Tuesday, April 28, 2015

3 marathons in 4 days part ii)

The Wonderland Caucus Race (or how I ended up running 3 marathons in 4 days)

"What IS a caucus-race? said Alice; not that she wanted much to know, but the Dodo had paused as if it thought that SOMEBODY ought to speak, and no one else seemed inclined to say anything."

"Why", said the Dodo, "the best way to explain it is to do it".
Yet another event from Traviss and Rachel who have me well and truly hooked on their events because they are all within driving distance, are great value for money with fab medals and goody bags and are very friendly and inclusive. I ran my first event of theirs in October last year and I described it as a Caucus race then a few days later they announced this race to coincide with 150 years since Alice's adventures in Wonderland was published!

At that stage I'd already entered the St. George's Day marathon which I wrote about in my last post and I'd got a place in the London marathon which was 4 days later. Clearly, any thought of doing another marathon inbetween would be madness wouldn't it and so I put it out of my mind for a while. But I kept just popping along to the website and thinking how perfect it sounded and then they published a photo of the medal and I just HAD to do it. I was powerless to resist (you'll understand why when you see this beauty at the end).

The evening before I needed to adorn my hat with a Wonderland theme so I had to remove all traces of the St. George's Day decoration and start again. I'd decided to attach one of my small bunnies to the top of my cap and then cover the Kent 50 logo with some blue and white crochet (Alice's dress is blue and she wore a white pinafore) then I decided I wanted some hearts to represent the Queen of Hearts but by then I was getting tired and so I just added one of my pink, pressed tin hearts to the back. Actually, I'm glad I did as the bunny has pink under-paws and inner ears so it matched beautifully. The camera was still buzzing happily and so I had to resort to photos taken with my computer!

I slept well the night before and was out of bed and raring to go at 4:15am. I wasn't sure how my legs would feel when I got up but they felt absolutely fine. I've only ever done a double once before and that was in Dover last year and I'd had a massage inbetween but I felt it had been a bit too rough as my legs really hurt on the 2nd day. This time I just massaged my legs gently when I had a bath and Mike gave me a good shoulder rub which I always need since I had a nasty car crash a few years ago. I remembered to eat some brekkie this time and I took my drink. The traffic was kind to me and I arrived at my destination in good time.

I took the camera came with me just in case I managed to shake it into submission but it didn't want to play at all so I left it in the car.  I'll do my best to describe some of what I saw but am very grateful to Julian Porter who kindly allowed me to use his beautiful photos.

The event was held at Samphire Hoe Country Park. To get to it you have to go through a tunnel, which you can see in a photo if you click on the link, and it's like entering wonderland. There's a 3 minute wait at traffic lights at each end of the tunnel as it's only wide enough for 1 vehicle and as I sat waiting I looked at the cliffs and thought that perhaps it would be hard to get a mobile phone signal once I passed through the tunnel and so I gave Mike a quick call to let him know I'd arrived. Thank goodness I did as all I got when I'd gone through was a message from a French transmitter telling me there was a limited signal, which actually meant none!

There were lots of people milling around when I arrived so I registered and got changed then went for a look around.  In the photos you'll see the white cliffs towering over one side, on the other is scrubland and then the sea. The first part of the route took us on tarmac/ grit paths alongside the cliffs, adjacent to the railway (it was nice to see trains going past occasionally). This part was not flat and there was one hill that drained the energy from a lot of people, especailly when it warmed up later in the day. I was fine going uphill but I'm always careful going downhill as I am a bit fearful (nasty fall as a child - I'll quite happily run up steps but hate going down them).

Then the route turned towards the sea, along the seawall. It was just a large expanse of concrete and I was glad I was wearing my HOKAs (aka my clown shoes!) as they have really made a difference to the arthritis in my feet as I don't feel a thing through them. When you reached the end of the concrete section you turned round and went back to the start.

As it was a Caucus race you could complete as many laps as you liked within the time limit of 6 hours. Some people completed one lap whilst others completed either marathon distance (well, actually 26.93 miles so a long marathon!) or further.

The weather varied from cool and bright to very warm and then the cloud came down and it went cold for my last 2 laps. I really enjoyed this race, mostly because of the camaraderie and I just love seeing people on each round and the encouragement you get. It's just so friendly!

What a fabulous Mad Hatter outfit! That's Julian on the right.

Just before the start. I'd stitched bunny quite firmly onto my cap but I was still a bit worried he might fall off.

Traviss making the usual announcements

You can see one of the many Cheshire Cats and a Queen of Hearts

I loved this lady's Mad Hatter outfit!

I must give a mention here to Joe Hawkins who ran the furthest (38.5 miles in 5:14:59) in this race, he also came first in the St. George's Day marathon the day before (3:11:49), ran a half marathon the day after and then went on to complete the London marathon in 2:56:05.
Respect to you Joe, excellent work!

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum
The German lady with her 2 lovely Dachshunds. I spoke to her beforehand and she told me that they love doing parkruns with her and that they would be doing 2 laps of the course which would have been about 7 miles. Very impressive for little legs!

The wonderful cake created by Heather from Hamilton's Cakes and Bakes. Isn't it magnificent! Sadly it was all gone by the time I'd finished.

I decided that I would not walk at all, even the uphills, as my legs felt fine but I just slowed my pace down and enjoyed the views. I finished the 26.93 marathon in 5:43:19 and felt absolutely fine. Now take a look at this beautiful medal; and you'll iunderstand why I had to do this:

My favourite marathon medal

I had a good journey home then it was a case of repeat what happened the night before - bath, eat, wine, chat, sleep except the next day I had a day off ahead of the London marathon.

Whilst I'd been out BBC Radio Kent had phoned to book an interview for Monday to hear how I'd got on with all the marathons and BBC Radio Sussex had wanted to speak to me that afternoon but I was still running.

On Saturday morning I leapt out of bed and suddenly realised that my legs felt fantastic. The only pain I had was in my right shoulder and Mike gave me a good massage to loosen it off. I couldn't believe my legs felt so good and I went for a short run just to loosen them off. I decided not to do anything too strenuous that day and so contented myself with baking a rosemary foccaccia and making some pasta sauce for our evening meal. 

In the midst of my bread-making the phone rang and it was BBC Radio Sussex asking if I could have a chat with Danny Pike in the next few minutes. I scraped the bread dough off my hands and had a lovely chat with him about what I'm doing and why. It was especially nice as he was one of the first people I chatted to when I embarked on my marathon fund-raising adventure for Alzheimer's Research UK 10 years ago and I've spoken with him many times since then. He kept emphasising the 3 marathons in 4 days and then politely asked if I minded telling people my age - of course not; I'm proud that I can still put one front of the other at the grand old age of nearly 58!!!!!

Mike and I had a lovely day and went to bed nice and early as we had to be up at silly-o'clock the next day for the London marathon. I did worry slightly that my legs were still feeling fine and wondered if they would still feel OK for London but you'll have to wait and see how I got on with my 3rd marathon in 4 days as I've got such a lot to write about……………….

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