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the quest of trying hard

A revival of the written word to document the ebbs and flows of running lately.

To give context, the best place to start is a quick overview of the year so far.

6 months in a flash.


Jan - March: Inured/Recovery. No running.

Running resumed in the best way in early March, with a trip to Portugal and the first taste of sun on bare shoulders. The movement itself was gentle, testing the waters, building routine.

I returned from Portugal feeling healthy and began a training plan for UltraTrail Snowdonia.


For the next 10 weeks, I stuck to the plan and loved the miles. I worked from the ground up, to regain strength and a feel for the hills. Honestly, I was enjoying being out running so much and the sensation of a strong body was exactly what I needed.

The plan I was following, Holly & Pete's endurance ultra plan (highly recommend - It's a 16 week plan however, I was working to a race deadline, so 10 it was. You do what you can.


Which brings me to race weekend. We packed up then van and headed off to North Wales.


I went into the weekend full of confidence, very unlike me. Imposter syndrome gets me and flying under the radar is definitely a protective quality, scared of failure or simply the inability to 'back myself' on the hard things. UTS was different. My friends, family, colleagues, fellow runners all knew that I was racing this weekend. I'd put myself 'out there…'


This year, I wanted to become more competitive with myself. Not something that comes naturally to me, happy enough to bimble along and take it as it comes. Finding joy in other areas - the views, the synergy, the sweat. The truth is that I've always ran in this way, and another word for it is lazy. I don't mean that negatively, laziness in your hobby is completely acceptable. I'm not really driven by time or placing, but I have this niggling feeling lately that I'm limiting my own potential by not trying hard. 


The race didn't go to plan. Despite my legs feeling strong and my lungs capable. Despite enjoying the 35km I covered. I DNF'd. Excuses are plenty. It was incredibly hot, 25 degrees in usually wet Wales, not a cloud in the sky and blistering exposure on every climb. I'd planned out a fuelling strategy based on a winter of cold weather running, & like a true ultra amateur (which I very much am), I forgot to take in electrolytes.

By aid station 2, I'd sweat out enough salt to service all the chips of the west coast. I felt sick, was sick, and just couldn’t make sensible decisions. I dithered around the aid station, desperately trying (& failing) to find all things I needed. I spent nearly 20 mins here, which was not planned. Suddenly, the cut off was announced, 15 mins to leave the station. This jolted me a little out of my delirious state, I went off to be sick again, feeling extremely dehydrated. I returned to my pack and asked those around me if they were going back out? A mumbling of no's, people dropped like flies all over the tent. This was the 'try hard' moment I'd been after - I was going out. Get on with it, Celina.


Off I went, around the llyn and up the start of the next hill. We were into a little forest section which was so humid, no air. I couldn't breathe, the sickness came again and I dropped. I cried my way back to the aid station, met Micky, and cried a lot more.


As soon as I dropped, it felt like a mistake. I'm not sure it was a mistake, the mistakes were made elsewhere, but it felt shit. I won't go on about the rest of the day, but basically, it was one full of tears.

DNF's are disappointing. They just hurt.


Fast forward to now then. I had a little (lot) sulk and then appraised the experience logically, taking all those valuable learnings to try and not make the same mistakes twice. I guess this is how you improve as a runner.


My first run post UTS was one of the most blissfully, lovely outings I've ever had. No amount of disappointment can deter my love of running. That's something important, but I kind of knew that anyway. I also did some adventure running on holiday in the Sardinian mountains, and now we're here.


Monday marked the start of 'base mileage', to find some flow again.

In about a month, I'm getting back on the plan, this time for the full 16 weeks, ahead of my next big race at the end of the year. Sometimes my head swims a bit with the negative thoughts. Will I ever be competitive? Am I the DNF girl? Why do I think I'm capable of running technical ultras? Each time they pop up, I find answers to keep them at bay.


Like the rise and fall of the hills; running - and life - is not linear.

It doesn't mean you can't try.



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