DOUGIE Selman won the Don Ritchie Trophy as the top Scot at this month’s Anglo Celtic Plate 100k championships and laid down a new Corstorphine club record in the process.
He finished a fabulous fifth at the Home Countries International event – narrowly missing out on fourth place following a lung-bursting sprint finish after 6hrs 47mins 48secs on the road.
Here, we get Dougie’s lowdown on the race, including the mental and physical challenges, nutrition, recovery and spotting a familiar CAAC face cheering him on in Craigavon, Northern Ireland.
Q. Firstly, huge congratulations on the race and result. Was the race better or worse than expected?
A. As expected, it was a big challenge but I’m really glad I did it. In terms of my actual result, I would say it went better than I feared but not quite as well as I had hoped. On reflection, I probably need to be quite happy with it as it was quite a big jump for me and there were a lot of lessons to learn. I’m definitely keen to do another one though and to see if I can run a wee bit faster.
Q. You said in the build-up that you were interested in what the psychology of the race would be like. How was it and how did your mind and body cope with it all?
A. There’s definitely a big mental part to the race. It is such a long way that you can’t really be switched on and racing for the full thing, so you need to try and find ways to zone in and out when you need to. I think I did that fairly well, though it becomes much harder the further into the race you get and once things start to get uncomfortable.
Q. How well did your training and preparation go? You mentioned previously concentrating around one or two big runs per week. What distances were you covering?
A. The training and preparation went as well as I could have hoped for. I was fairly fit coming into the block and then had a really solid eight or nine weeks leading in to the race, during which I trained a bit more specifically for the 100k. I was running about 110 miles per week, with a big portion of that tending to come at the weekend. I did a couple of 60km runs, a few decent paced 40km runs and a few back-to-back long runs on a Saturday or Sunday.
Q. In terms of fuelling up, was your pre-race intake different than usual? And how did you deal with it during the race?
A. I thought about the details of how much and what type of food I was fuelling up on a bit more than I have done previously, particularly in the last 24 hours. I don’t think thereis much difference between the principles behind pre-race fuelling for a 100k race or something a bit shorter though, so I’ll probably just do the same for future marathons. I had a pretty clear nutrition plan for the race itself, where I was taking on a mix of gels and carb drinks each lap, and was amazingly well supported by (Scottish Athletics team manager) Adrian Stott. It’s much easier to take on fuel at 100k pace than marathon pace so this all worked pretty well – though I will happily wait a while before having another gel again! There are probably a few things I would tweak in future, and I’ll maybe look into taking on caffeine or switching to something like flat Coke a bit earlier. I had that with two laps to go and instantly felt like it perked me up.
Q. Marathon runners often talk about hitting ‘the wall’ about 20 miles in. Where was the ‘wall’ in the 100k and how did you react? Did you have an inkling of when it might occur, or was this part of the unknown element to the race?
A. I wouldn’t say I hit ‘the wall’ at any point, but things started getting noticeably harder somewhere between 65k and 70k. It wasn’t a major capitulation, but four-minute kilometres became 4mins 5secs and then 4mins 10secs. It felt like a game of survival after that which was quite a big mental challenge because I still had two hours or so of running to go. I was just trying to focus on ticking off each kilometre at that point until two or three laps to go, where I felt like I could see the light at the end of the tunnel and started feeling a bit better again. The drop-off was a bit earlier than I was expecting and I think that’s maybe a result of me not being quite as well prepared for the lumps on the course as I could have been, meaning that my legs were feeling pretty battered quite early. There are probably also a few other things I can look into as well which might help me to delay that feeling a bit more in future races.
Q. Can you talk us through the sprint finish? How did it feel to have to kick after so long on the road?
A. I had started to feel a bit better with two or three laps to go and was actually feeling quite good – in relative terms – by the time the last lap came. I had closed a fairly big gap by halfway round it and was hoping I’d happily breeze into fourth. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen so I thought I’d wait for a sprint finish and use that 800m pedigree of mine – which, lo and behold, isn’t there any more! It was actually quite a fun last part of the race as I wasn’t really thinking about how tired I was at that point.
Q. How has your physical and mental recovery been?
A. The first few days were a bit of a struggle. Legs, back, arms and feet were all sore and everything from going up and down stairs to just sitting or lying down was quite uncomfortable. I also felt pretty exhausted generally and had a lot of sleep to catch up on – once I could finally lie still enough to actually do that! Thankfully the acute effects cleared up pretty quickly and I felt pretty normal by the following weekend.
Q. Finally, you had a CAAC cheerleader and Twitter correspondent on course in the form of Tom Ferrington. What did it mean to have that encouragement each lap?
A. I’ve known Tom for absolutely ages. I actually had no idea that he was going to be there, so I was pretty surprised to see him pop up on the first lap, phone in hand. The support was a huge help, particularly when I was trudging along feeling rubbish with two hours of running ahead of me as it did feel pretty bleak at that point. To have someone go out of their way to come and cheer you on at what is hardly a riveting spectator event meant a lot and definitely helped to keep me going. It’s great to have all the photos and running commentary to look back on, too.