These last 2 marathons I’m treating a little less seriously if I’m honest. Was really pleased with the last marathon at Bedford, had trained really hard and clocked a decent PB. These 2, time to enjoy and get finished safely.
Next month, I’ll be going with friends and will probably do a little celebrating after, and am actually running it with my step brother.
For this trip up to Walton on Thames, I had a car full, with 5 friends joining me on a promise of a good laugh and an awesome medal. This was a Phoenix Running event, my fourth with them this year, although I hoped this one would bring better luck than my DNF at the Space Race in July. This one had exactly the same start location, but was longer laps in the other direction along the towpath by the Thames.
Although I was looking to enjoy this one, I wasn’t planning on running with anyone, so did think in my head that I’d start out at my normal sort of pace and if that took me close to 4 hours, then so be it.
So, race time, and a few things cropped up that made this run a little slower than I thought it might be, not that it was a big deal.
First up, it was a Phoenix event, which means an awesome snack table at Race HQ. From experience I know that on a Phoenix event, when the going gets tough, it’s very easy to hang around the aid station for a bit too long having a chat!
Second, normally these events are much smaller. I was surprised to find that 650 runners would be making their way down the towpath today, so it was quite congested at the start.
Third, the weeks of endless rain, meant that this usually compact towpath, in places had become a bit of a mudbath and once again I wished I owned some shoes with some tread!
Finally, I started the race with some real fun and games with the GPS on my watch. It is sad I know, but when I run well I am a slave to the time. I like to constantly monitor my pace versus how I’m feeling, set targets, have target paces for different sections of the run etc. When it went wrong right at the start, my brain wasn’t really interested in trying to hit paces. The GPS was so far out, that I told the running buddy I started with that I thought my watch had switched to metric. In fact it got worse than that and at one point my pace for the first mile was reading 1 minute 30 seconds, now that’s moving! Once the race was over, it appeared that after a few hundred metres, the GPS then moved my location about a mile north for a while.
All things considered, the run went well. It was a busy start, and we battled through the first mile or so trying to find a bit of clear ground to run in. The first few miles were in reality around 8:40 on average, and after a couple of miles, Zoe who had started out with me, decided that wasn’t a sensible pace and backed off a bit, leaving me to some solo running. On I plodded keeping the average just under 9s.
At 11am, so at about 1:30 into the run, it was time for the 2 minute silence. The marshalls had spread themselves out down the 3.3 mile course, and sounded their horns. 650 runners stopped in their tracks, wherever they stood, and for 2 minutes it felt like time stood still and we remembered. A few moments to remember those that made huge sacrifices, some the ultimate sacrifice, so that we might enjoy our freedom. Somehow, it almost feels silly, when you stand there and reflect on the truly heroic acts by all those men and women, at a moment when you are frittering away a Sunday running up and down a path. It was however, a very special moment, the highlight of today and one of the highlights of this whole year of running for me.
Running backwards and forwards, 4 laps, 8 lengths of the river path, is in someways quite boring. However, it has the big plus of seeing people run past, many times. I kept seeing my running buddies, so first up running supremo Bill from my club, he was flying. Next Mick, a good friend and a running lunatic, he has been on more of my marathons this year than anyone else, next month will be the 8th I believe. Next up is Zoe who I started out with on this run. Steve Hickman was next up, a true legend from our running club, about to complete marathon #162 for him. Then came Giorgio who was tackling today on minimal training, a 10 mile run I believe. Then came my friend Sarah, very special to see her out running, as she is the person who first got me to join a running club, so it’s really all her fault!
I kept seeing them on each lap, we shouted encouragement at each other, sometimes abuse, and it helped the miles tick by. Then after a couple of laps a surprise for everyone when another runner from the Isle of Wight, Jane Andrew, popped up to offer encouragement, then was lovely.
Then I was in for a real treat, thanks to some very fortunate timing. I had finished lap 3, grabbed a slurp on my Lucozade and was about to set off on my final lap, when none other than Bill Goozee, came streaking down the path to win the marathon!
After seeing Bill win, I trudged off to finish the final lap. The pace had dropped a bit, miles 23 onwards were all in the 10s. The legs had started to feel tired before halfway, I assume that was the impact of the sticky mud, so was happy to get through it. Finishing time was 4:10:08 once the 2 minute silence was knocked off. All things considered, I was pretty pleased with that. One ‘skill’ I have definitely learned this year, is how to just keep moving when things don’t feel so good, or when it feels like things are against you. In previous years these moments would definitely have turned into walking.
A good day out, with some great people.
11 down, 1 to go! Next stop Portsmouth Coastal on 22nd December.