So the big day arrived and it was time to get running. A lot of thought and training had gone into this challenge, and now it was time to let the feet and legs do the talking!
One big area of consideration was pacing. I felt as though I was fit enough to be running a sub 4 marathon, but this was a completely different challenge. This was about running 7 marathons, one a day. So what pace to do a marathon, then another, and a another….
In my head, the plan was to aim for around 5 hours. By the time I lost a bit to GPS, 11 mins per mile would still see me under 5.
Day 1 got underway, and I started plodding out laps of Willen Lake. This was a lovely setting, and was to be the scene for the first 3 marathons.
There were around 30 runners each day, but intending to do all 7 days, there were 15 of us.
On Day 1 I did quite a few miles around 10 / 10:30 a mile. Late on, as would become a pattern for many days, would see some breaks, whilst I stopped to drink, eat, or put plasters on sore things! Finish time for Day 1 was 4:52:57.
Day 2 brought a visit from my old nemesis, that big yellow source of pain hanging in the sky! A chilly start, but as the hours wore on, the sun shone, and by the end I felt fairly rubbish. The time was 4:53:57, similar to day 1, but it wasn’t until later that evening I realised how much the sun had impacted me.
I felt rubbish that evening, and the next morning I found myself pushing my breakfast cereal around. I chatted to friends and other runners, and decided I needed to tone things down if I was going to get through this thing. So slow it down I did, and day 3 concluded in a time of 5:08:17, but I finished feeling happy again and felt like I was back on track.
Day 4 took us to our first of 4 marathons at Caldecott Lake. Again a nice setting, which I slightly favoured over Willen, a little quieter. I was managing to stick to my slightly slower pace, and brought Day 4 home in 5:01:15. Not all was rosy in the running garden though, as I was starting to get some niggles, in the shape of a pain low in my calf, and a bit of a thigh strain, both in my right leg.
Day 5 gave me some renewed energy as my running buddy Keith had made the awesome gesture of coming up from the Isle of Wight to run one of the marathons with me. Keith had run 2 marathons with me in 2021 when I’d run 3 in 3. I was a bit more guarded in my running, as I nursed the pains in my right leg. The thigh strain faded as we got going, but the calf remained uncomfortable. Finish time for Day 6 was 5:06:37. We had a great time though, with the normal high levels of piss taking and giggles, followed by delicious Fish and Chips in the pub 🙂
So only 2 days to go, and it was feeling like I might actually finish this crazy adventure. Day 6, saw me take it a bit easier, making sure I protected the calf injury. An interesting thing happened though. As I was running at a very controlled pace, the pain on the calf just kept building. When I got to the last couple of laps (out of 7), I picked up the pace a little, and it actually felt a bit better. A couple of stronger laps got me home in 5:10:12, my slowest time of the week, but hey, we had made it to day 7.
So, here’s the dilemma. It felt a bit better running faster, so what to do. Take it steady again and make sure we get Day 7 finished, or be a little bolder. I went for the latter!
I set out running my miles at just over 9 minutes a mile, much faster than we have done all week. Did it hurt, yes, but at least I knew I was going to finish quicker and the pain would stop!
The pain intensified, and a few times I felt like the calf was being cut open. But this was Day 7 of 7, I wasn’t going to stop. I slowed down a bit, but I pushed on and finished it in 4:14:`14. 40 minutes quicker than the other days and dropping my average time under 5 hours which I was very happy about. Finished Day 7 in 6th position out of 37 runners!
What a challenge it had been. 7 marathons in a row when I’d only done 3 in a row before. 186 miles in a week when the most I’d done before was about 80. It was a massive physical and mental challenge, but it felt massively rewarding to finish it with a flourish, and to see some donations come in for the NSPCC.