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After a dreadful night’s sleep I gave up trying and got up
at 4 a.m., never mind, time for extra coffee before setting out on my first
trip out of Devon since 2019.
Good driving weather and arrived on time. I’ve done the 20 mile race that Rogue Runs
organise from the same venue and for Covid safe racing this is really the
perfect venue, a decommissioned nuclear power station with acres of good free parking. Race number collection and toilets all
situated in the car park, all Covid safe without a mask in sight and all very
relaxed as plenty of space for everyone.
There was an air of excitement and I could hear runners saying how
nervous they were as they were doing their first race of the year. Lots of runners from Wales, as yet they are
not even back club training and haven’t been able to do any races since before
the first lockdown in 2020.
Quick chat with Big G then back to the car to get ready and
walked the 700 metres to the start, we were due to start 10 seconds apart, I
should have been 10th, but at 9:00 not all the runners were in place
so I ended up being 3rd to start.
The starter zapped our individual number bar codes and set us on our
way. On the way to the start I met a
girl called Emma and she said she was going to set out at 11 min/mile pace
which is what I also wanted. She
started first and I tried to keep her in view but she was running faster than
11 min/mile pace, so was I, but I didn’t want to go any faster. It was a little chilly at the start but the
sun was out and that made up for the fresh breeze. It warmed up quite nicely and apart from the
breeze being a little strong in places conditions were perfect for me.
The route was an out section, then 3 laps of around 5 miles
and then back to the race venue.
Lovely area to run, flat quiet roads, beautiful farms and cottages, a
few sections of the road surface were a little worn and had a fairly steep
camber so needed to be a bit cautious on some patches. Due to the time trial nature of the start
it made the race very social, most of the runners exchanged a brief greeting
when passing. The sub 3 runners lapped
me twice, others only once.
My lack of racing really showed today, it almost felt like a
first marathon and mentally I found it very hard to keep pushing on. Physically it was hard too as I haven’t done
long runs apart from one 16 miler in preparation and my last marathon was 7
months ago. I really had to dig deep
and push on. Not helped that my stomach
just wasn’t keen on taking any carbs so I had to limit my fuel to minimal
amounts that my stomach would tolerate.
My A target was a sub 5, B target a few minutes over 5 hours, C target
was not to get pulled off the course for a DNF, probably needed 5:30 to avoid a
I had a stitch for a few miles and had to ease up a little
and eventually it went away, I put that down to lack of training and fuelling
discomfort. When I got to 16 miles I
was doing a little walking, just short walk breaks, but managed to only slow my
mile pace by 10 to 20 seconds per mile until I got to 21 miles and then I
needed to have a few more walk breaks but by this time I had taken a caffeine
tablet and once that hit my brain I was focussed to get to the finish. At 23 miles I caught up with a runner from
Bristol, he was determined not to let me pass him so we had a chat but it was
tiring battling with him. At 24 miles I
told him that there was no need to race me to the finish as I’d started about
30 minutes before him, he gave up trying then and I ran on and left him. The last mile of a marathon is always a
struggle for me, it just seems such a long way and I still couldn’t see the
nuclear power station, which is huge.
Eventually it came into view and then what felt like a sprint to the
finish, thrilled to finish in 4:55:29 so target A achieved.
Nice dayglo yellow t-shirt and a beautiful medal, no tacky
Chinese bling but a beautiful pottery medal which was made in Chepstow.
Free coffee and snack at the finish, I had a choc chip
cookie, the big ones from supermarket bakery, they offered me a whole pack
which I declined, just as well as it was very sweet but good post-race food.
A lovely race with impeccable organisation.
Must do some training.