Below is a beautifully written “Robin Hood 100 mile” race report kindly shared by Kelsey . This is a fantastic resource for anyone who is considering running a big ultramarathon/ their first 100 or even an experienced ultrarunner who is looking to get some fresh ideas on how to be successful. Kelsey’s approach is sensational. She is basically enjoying every second of it and that part is effortlessly natural. The more comfortable you are in long races the better you will keep your running form and your mojo. This doesn’t come by accident. Kelsey’s relationships with her crew are a huge part of the success of her race. She wants them to be enjoying the experience (you don’t always see that from runners). Kelsey is clearly a naturally talented runner but she also learns things about herself during the race and she is not afraid to adjust them (her gel vs food strategy is one of these). We are certain that you are going to love this race report. We are incredibly proud coaches and we are doubly inspired by Kelsey in terms of how she influences us and our running. The future is bright x
KELSEY PRICE _ ROBIN HOOD 100 MILE - RACE REPORT - SEPTEMBER 2020 “Reaching that Magical Equilibrium” Robin Hood 100, where to start! A very special day full of wonderful people, positive vibes and true surprises. My Dad and friend Kane took me to the start, we were intrigued about how it would all work given social distancing operations – particularly the staggered start. I set off at 7.16, with a guy called Ash who I shared the first few miles with. He was familiar with the course having ran it a few years ago and we chatted away, making the miles fly by. I had it my head that I wanted to run the first half without any walking and then just see what happens after that. This meant that I was running the slight up-hills which everybody around me seemed to be walking up (it was also rather rutty) – I really did question myself around whether this was the right or wrong thing to do, nobody wants to be seen as setting off too fast in a 100 miler! But if I am honest, I slightly feared that once I started walking I would divert back to it when approaching any slight incline. I had actually switched my watch off from any sort of pace updates, I planned to run completely on “what felt good” and for now, the running the felt good.
I must admit though, it took me a good 20 miles to mentally relax into the race. I remember thinking the canal path was fairly grassy and I was in that “ahh there is so much further to go” mind frame. Also, I generally don’t find early morning running easy, with most of my training runs being at least past 9am once my legs have woken up. It wasn’t until I reached the first of the double forest loop (a 30 mile loop) that I fully tuned into the race. I had recce’d this section and it really was a beautiful loop, exactly the terrain I had been training on and thank goodness my legs had kicked in! As I wanted to run until mile 50, this meant that I had to run the first 30 mile loop (miles 20-50). It was in this section that there were lots of runners around and was where I gained a lot of places. I also got the joy of around 10k or so running with my friend Anna (who by the way had an amazing run with second Lady!). I stuck my earphones in for the sections where I was running on my own – first time ever doing that in a race and definitely won’t be the last! My Dad and Kane were there every 6ish miles and would quickly change my water bottles and give me food. On the note of food, I had decided after having a gel 45 minutes into the race that I wouldn’t have another, and it was from then that the all-you-can-eat buffet started. I remember thinking “it is actually so simple, all I have to do is eat, drink and run until I can’t run any more”... my poor crew, they had the hard part! I had established just before the race that pacers could join from mile 52. So I decided in the race that I would push the “non-stop running” from the goal of mile 50 to mile 52. I think I was on about mile 48 when I first checked my miles against the time and panicked a little – I even called my Dad to ask “Do you think I am going too fast? Please tell me to slow down if so”. I felt good considering I think all my miles were below 10min/mile, but it was pure apprehension that at this pace it may be inevitable that the wheels fall off. His reply “just keep doing exactly what you are doing” - so I just kept running. As my friend Alice joined me from mile 52, my race perspective completely shifted from a more introverted and focused headspace to a “time to chill out, chat and run when I can but walk if need to” mind frame. I had three different girlfriends (Alice, Meg and Katt) running with me from mile 52 to 80 and I wanted to make it worth their while, I was determined to make sure we were in full butterfly zone and really used it as special time to catch up with them all. They were all absolutely amazing and I can’t thank them enough (Megs brownies went down an absolute treat!). So many giggles were had and we were so engrossed in conversation that this part of the run is a slight blur! Oh, apart from a major face plant at mile 78 leaving me with what I now realise is a pulled quad – it is amazing how much adrenaline can mask pain in an event! From mile 80 it was dark, it was Kane’s turn for pacing (mile 80 to 93) and although the canal path wasn’t my favourite part, it was the home stretch so I was glad to be back on it. This was probably the toughest part mentally for me, you know the type where you are not talking too much and repeating weird motivational chants in your own head (please say I am not the only person who does this…). The so close yet SO FAR feeling. Kane was brilliant, I have ran with him lots and he completely understood the point I was at. Seeing my Dad and Katt every 5 miles or was more valuable than ever at this point of the race where it was total darkness, without anybody else in sight. I was still in full buffet mode and gratefully receiving all snacks (grapes, walnuts and vegan sausage rolls!). It was my Dads pacing shift for the last 7 miles. I found a new lease of energy and although I had to dig deep, I knew I could run 7 miles. There were deep chats and high emotions, I remember saying “At least I can leave here today knowing I gave it absolutely everything” with tears rolling down my face.
Once off the canal path and onto the last few miles, the ground was quite rutty and I remember there being some little inclines which I tried to run but found myself tripping over – walking seemed more sensible to avoid another faceplant. Looking at my watch and seeing the finish flag on the GPS map gave me a massive boost to get to the finish (it is funny how in a race like this, anything sub-9 min/mile feels like a full-blown sprint by the end!). Seeing Katt, Kane and the lovely HOBO Team with massive grins as I turned into the finish was the best. We stayed and chatted to Ronnie and the team for a while (whilst I scoffed all three of the goodie bag bakes) and despite being somewhat knackered, I was buzzing from the good energy in the air which was a product of every person there. Who knew a low-key event in the middle of a pandemic produce such a big atmosphere.
I wanted to get sub 20 hours, a goal which I was too nervous to share with anybody in case they thought I was being over-ambitious or somewhat unrealistic. With 17 hours and 37 minutes, dreams honestly came true. Apart from invaluable time with family, the best thing to come out of lockdown was a massive lack of life distraction which facilitated a new dedication to running. Previously life was busier, there were way more excuses for missing a session, post-work drinks often were more appealing and in reality, who wants to run home from work with all your work-clothes on your back!? My training block prior to RH coincided with the more-simple working-from-home life and was carefully engineered by the wonderful Daznbone… it didn’t involve anything too scary, just consistency. I think I particularly got a lot out of training tempo miles which were towards the end of a run. Faster training miles were something which I used to work myself up over and avoid at all costs, but I found myself excited for them in this training block! I did my (first-ever!) back to back training days, which involved 21 miles with my friend Meg followed by a 32-mile recce of the RH loop the next day. I felt so connected with the course and went into a full inner zen, free spirit mode. I think this really helped with the race as not only did it give me confidence with the route, I also managed to replicate that exact same mind frame.
Most importantly though, you can do all the training you want for these things but I believe ultrarunning is an art which involves reaching the perfect equilibrium in order to have a good race. There is a whole lot that can go wrong – nutrition, kit issues, chaffing, falls, weather, hydration, crew issues, navigation… the list goes on. I feel blessed that in the RH100 I managed to reach my perfect equilibrium, for one truly beautiful race. I was so lucky to have such a wonderful, selfless crew. My friends are nothing but good vibes and my Dad knows my running better than I do myself, managing to keep everything flowing magically like clockwork.
Thank you Daznbone, Katt, Kane, Alice, Meg, Dad, Ronnie and the Team for such an amazing event – much running love xxx