Monday, October 12, 2015

All the 5's, 55!

Yep, marathon 55 of 60 completed yesterday at the Sussex marathon. It was held in and around Heathfield which is only about 16 miles away so I didn't need to set off at silly o'clock as usual which was a bonus. I parked in the town and then walked up to the start - Mike said the next few of photos are my most boring ever but this marathon mullarky isn't about glamour and this one started in the local Community Centre in a residential area!

View along the road at the start

Marshalls assembling
I headed inside to collect my number and timing chip which is attached to your ankle using a velcro strip which I find much easier than the ones you have to thread through your laces. People were starting to mill around:

Paul, sporting his lovely 100 marathon club hoody, alongside Maria, also a 100 clubber, who I met on the way in to collect my number

There were quite a few blue and yellow shirts yesterday including the 2 lovely ladies , Kate and Ellan, who received theirs a few weeks ago.

Then I spotted Paul and I was so glad I'd seen him as this was his flake, ie 99th, marathon. I'd bought a 3-pack of Flakes a few days earlier for the occasion but unfortunately I didn't hide them well enough and someone (ie Mike!) had found them and eaten them!

Paul's mum, dad and sister have been ever-present at his marathons and it was lovely to see them all again.  I wish I could be there to celebrate his 100th with him but I couldn't fit it in.

The thing about this marathon is it was advertised as "the hilliest road marathon in the UK". Now I love hills (although I prefer trails off-road) so I wasn't concerned about that. What did concern me however was that there was a strict cut-off time of 6 hours and you had to reach the halfway mark by 2:50 in order to be allowed to continue.

It was a 2-loop course with what was referred to as a killer hill which you had to complete at the end of each loop. As I didn't know exactly how tough it was going to be I decided that I would push hard in the first loop and run up all the hills, no matter how steep, with a target time of 2:30 for the first half. This, of course meant that I couldn't stop to take any photos en-route and really made me focus on my pace.

We set off at 9:30am and immediately started going downhill. As we went ever downwards all I could think was that what goes down always comes back up again and we had to do it twice - gulp!

The route was all on roads, some were quiet lanes but others were faster roads with no pavements and a lot of cars didn't slow down or move out a bit as they went past. I always thank drivers who move over or slow down with a wave as it's nice to acknowledge it.

There were some people doing a half marathon, ie just one loop, but as it was a small field I wasn't expecting to see many people en-route. It was indeed rather hilly but no worse than where I run around at home so I settled into my pace and just ran a bit slower whilst still pushing a bit up the hills. I made a mental note of a couple of things I must take a photo of on my last lap if time permitted but to be honest there wasn't much this time.

I reached 6 miles in 60 minutes which ordinarily I wouldn't do in a marathon but as I felt OK I just carried on reasoning that I'd probably slow down quite naturally soon. At about 7 miles I found I was overtaking people, some marathoners but mostly half-marathoners. I still felt fine and so I pushed on.

At 11 miles I saw the lead runner and some of the other speedier runners heading off on their second lap. As I approached the turnaround point I saw Paul, Kate and Ellan heading off and I joined them occasionally but couldn't keep up with them towards the end so they finished about 6 minutes ahead of me. I reached the halfway point in 2:20 and was absolutely delighted on such a hilly route!

On my next lap I knew that I had a good time buffer of 3:50 so could afford to walk up the steeper hills to conserve energy. Which is exactly what I did. I found some of the downhills tougher than the uphills as my quads were a bit sore.

There were only 2 things I really wanted to photograph (although I was sorely tempted by some amazing Pampas grasses but resisted):


Beautiful wrought iron gates guarded by dragons

As I reached the bottom of the last hill I started to jog up it slowly and just thought "what's the point?" as I was well within the time limit so I just walked it and then ran the last few hundred metres to see Paul and Kate leaving (they picked me up and gave me a lift back to the car park for which many thanks!).

My finish time was 5:14:37 and I was 4th person away from the 6 hour cut-off. The marshalls told me there were about 20 people behind me so a lot of them wouldn't have got an official time published. Lots of races are like that and it doesn't matter unless you need to get an official finish time to have your marathon count towards the 100 marathon club. 

Edited to add that Pam, one of my running chums, pointed out that I was first in my age category - see the '1' after my age group 55-64 (I didn't get a prize though, humph!):

53 36 Susie Hewer F 14 55-64 1 RoadRunners Club 5:14:37.45 

The medal is rather nice although I don't really like getting the same medal as for a half marathon plus I'm getting too used to Traviss's medals so thought it was teeny-weeny…...

….for size comparison!

Next up is the Beachy Head marathon in less than 2 weeks. My favourite trail marathon.

Finally, here's a photo from parkrun the day before for anyone who read my post before I received it. Please, please, please can anyone doing a parkrun during October donate as much as you can afford to help ARUK reach their target of £100,000. Thank you.

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