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Stevie G said:
glorious long down to finish Have done this the other way round, up a steep hill early doors, but it's much more enjoyable this normal way round.
SC that is so
good that you are getting bigger numbers for your rapid track sessions.
Good effort on another 100k week, SG. Enjoyed the bit of facebook banter!
Great to see you, Jools.
Interesting analysis of the results as well.
Sounds very positive, Bus.
As for the van driver – you need to summon your inner Reg.
Long and self-indulgent report below. Do skip to the bottom
for a TL;DR, or get a coffee!
Having built back from last Autumn’s stress fracture, I initially
entered the half. However, after getting in a few longer buggy runs, I decided
to roll the dace and transfer up to the marathon. So a much shorter than usual
build, with only three 20M+ runs. The target was clear: renew membership to the
Taper week went well with some easy running, healthy eating
and a spot of visualisation. Standard lack of sleep the night before the race,
but nothing unusual on that front. I woke up feeling excited to be racing
again, and looking forward to seeing a few clubmates, as well as Jools. The weather was bright sun, 7 –
15C, and a 14mph wind from the NE (more of which later).
Parking dramas were avoided, and I seemed to time it nicely
to just miss the build up of toilet queues. Managed to find 15 minutes or so to
walk away from the concrete jungle of the car park, power station and
surrounding businesses, and find a quiet nature path out towards the estuary. A
good time to focus on my breathing, take it all in and think about what lay
ahead. Genuinely excited.
Great to see Jools
as I headed towards the start line. He had his club vest and number on, but
about three long layers beneath as well as gloves. Surely he wasn’t going to
race like this?! Lovely to catch up with him and wish each other well.
We had received our individual start times, with a 10s gap
between each runner. I arrived towards the start a few minutes early, expecting
to soak up the atmosphere and check things out. But when I got there, the
initial marshal said it was fine to start whenever you wanted. I probably
should have taken a moment to compose myself, check shoe laces, final pee etc,
but I blundered on to the final marshal. There was no timing mat, rather a
barcode scanner gun. He did this, and then said: ‘go on, clock is ticking’! I started
my watch what must have been a few seconds after the scanner and cracked on,
hoping this wouldn’t come back to haunt me.
It looked like a large tailwind for the initial 5M five out,
then obviously varied for the 3 x 5M loops, before a headwind on the return. Knowing
this, I settled into what felt a sensible effort, seeing a 6:30 – 6:40 on the
watch. Interestingly, there were no mile markers until the return leg – 21M onwards.
The scenery was lovely. Very peaceful and quiet country
lanes, barely a bump in the road to contend with. I overtook a few of the extra
early starters – those who had indicated they might be 5h+. I found myself
being overtaken every now and again as a sub-2:45 runner came past, having actually
set off at the allotted time. Whilst it is usually dispiriting to be overtaken
in a race, though this wasn’t the case as it kind of made sense. Nice to share
a few chats along the way as well. Race day magic is weird – no way it could
run 6:30s and chat in training! This said, I think I ran 95% entirely solo,
albeit with faster or slower runners usually in sight.
Took my first ever Maurten gel at mile 5. Obviously, this
was a bit of a risk, especially as numerous people had said how important it is
to try them first. Enjoyed the jelly-like consistency, and being able to
control the speed of consumption. The four gels I took went down well, with no obvious
distress from the two caffeine (100mg) ones. I try to do a little systems check every five
miles – thinking through each body part to see what might be hurting, aching,
feeling good etc. If nothing else, it offers a little target to aim for and a
distraction for half a mile or so.
It was at about 9M, so towards the end of the first loop, that
the headwind suddenly struck. You turned a corner (where a clubmate was giving
great support) and boom – smacked in the face with wind. This led to a tough
mile and a half until turning to start the next loop. At least it seemed as
though only a third of each lap had a tough wind to it. I quite enjoyed the
laps, looking forward to passing the same farm each time, knowing what was
around the corner, and dodgy footing etc.
I went through half way
on my watch in 1:27 and change. Going well! From mile 17M I could hear a
runner I had earlier passed, who had said he was deliberately running a negative
split, coming up from behind. His breathing was laboured, but I did all I could
to work with him and encourage him, sharing turns into the wind for a couple of
miles. At 52, breaking sub 3 was his lifetime goal. Given we were averaging
6:40s on my watch, I thought this should, just, be in the bag for him. Although
I thought it a little strange this his mile splits seemed to occur a long time
With the wind for the final section of the final loop, it
was a tough ask to then go into the 5M headwind on the return leg. This was
also the first official mile marker – 21. OMFG my watch was half a mile ahead
of itself! The maths I had been doing about the final 10k in 45 minutes etc,
was suddenly out the window. This was going to be tight!
I tried really hard to just focus on one mile at a time from
here. My GPS was saying about 6:55 for each mile, but manually lapping it with
the markers showed about 10s slower. So this represented a suitable speed
decline given the wind and heat. I started overtaking a few at this point.
Mostly those walking, having jacked it in. One guy even had his Alphas in his hands.
But also a couple who had slowed but were managing still to run.
It was going to be so close for the sub three. At 25M, we
turned for the final time, and fortunately got a break from the wind. Hot
enough to be actively seeking shade at this point, and also overtaking the
slower half runners, a little bit of weaving was required. My breathing was
laboured and it was getting bloody hard.
At 26M, my left knee suddenly seemed to stop working and it
became very hard to left the leg properly. A sub 7m/m limp required to the end!
Into the grounds of the power station, around a roundabout and a final straight
to the finish gantry. A glance down revealed I have twenty seconds for roughly
the final 60m. Bloody hell this was agony! Pulled some big gurns and some guttural
groans and powered through, stopping my watch on 2:59:57. Christ I hoped I hadn’t
ballsed this up!
Cracking t shirt and unique ceramic medal. I am usually
pretty anti medal, but this seems like a good one. Perhaps it is more special
given the circumstances, but definitely a keeper.
A lovely afternoon in the park and pub with the kids, before
getting the provisional results through that evening. 2:59:55 – thank god!
A really satisfying day. Lovely to race, see other people
and just put it all out there. On strava, it looks as though I went out too
hard and banked loads of time early on. Kind of true – but I actually think it
was a fairly even spread of effort given the tough headwind on the return.
Almost everyone I know seemed to find it a very tough day, with, sadly, most
falling off their targets. So to get the sub-three in these circumstances, with
added watch dramas, feels quite special. Ten minutes off a PB, but it is all
about your current stage of life and fitness. Tired and sore today, but feeling
really positive. Love running!