The last first

After I started running in June 2015, my first attempts at race distances arrived pretty quickly, as I think they do for most people:

  • First 5k: Great North 5k, September 2015
  • First 10k: Sunderland 10k, May 2016
  • First half marathon: Great North Run, September 2016
  • First marathon: London Marathon, April 2019

I’ve done a few other random race distances too: 10 mile, 5.8 mile, 25k. But it’s the standard distances that feel properly like ‘firsts’, and tomorrow I have another:

  • First ultra: Tyne Bridges to Boundaries Ultra, March 2024

An ultra isn’t a standard distance, of course. This one is advertised as 32 miles (51.5 km), but it could measure a bit more or less than that depending on GPS and whether I get lost. (I shouldn’t get lost. It’s meant to be very beginner-friendly.)

But it does feel like the last ‘first’. Maybe I’ll be mad enough to do longer ultras in the future (there are certainly a few on my bucket list), but I don’t think I’ll have this feeling again.

Anyway, thinking about all of this is helping to distract from the fact that I’ve spent the whole week swinging back and forth between ‘terrified’ and ‘sort of excited’. I know it’ll be a tough challenge, but it’s a generous cutoff (10 hours; I expect some people will walk the whole thing) and I ran a strong 20-miler last week so I don’t have any worries about finishing, barring disaster. As tends to be the case with races these days, I’m far more worried about the logistics than the run itself. I just want to get going so I can stop overthinking things!

I’ll also be quite glad to get back to my regularly scheduled marathon training once the ultra is done. Just over four weeks to Manchester (my A race for this spring) and feeling strong.

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