Monday, February 22, 2016

Marathon 67 and when being wrong is alright by me!

Good news alert - contrary to the prognosis of her surgeon, Denny has pulled through the really awful time she had last week, when we really did think we might lose her, and has now been removed from the 'critical list'. Although she still has a long way to go, and her time in hospital can only be measured in weeks/months rather than days, this is excellent news and I have breathed a huge sigh of relief. Thank you so much to everyone who sent her positive thoughts and prayers.

Now it's time for another race report for my 67th marathon. This was The Good, the Bad & The Ugly marathon celebrating 50 years since the release of the film of the same name and with a suitably themed medal (which you'll see later). Traviss had encouraged people to wear a cowboy hat and/or poncho but it was too windy for the hat and so I stuck with my usual cap and I even had to hold on to it several times as I felt the wind lift it up!

A splendid hat which was quickly replaced with a woolly cap once we got outside!

Greg rocked the Clint look…...

…whilst his lovely bride-to-be Janet came dressed as a saloon girl

It was Gary's 100th marathon so we all signed his race number

Gary was too busy pretending to do Tommy Cooper tricks to notice what I was doing!

I missed his 100 club presentation but caught up with him the car park where he struck a pose.

Well done Gary!

Traviss gave us a briefing outside the cafe then we headed up to the start.

Maryanne and Scotty were out all day supporting us - I took some photos of them inside but they didn't come out very well. Thanks for all the hugs Maryanne (I loved seeing Scotty taking the doggies for a walk too and Katie is really sweet). 

The park is being redeveloped to include a new Visitor Centre

The route was quite different from the trails we've used there before as it was being held on the cycle track which Traviss had hired for the day.  The reason I wanted to run this marathon was that I shall be running a 50 mile ultra there in April so I wanted to get a feel for the route and the surface. Also I wanted to experience the loops, which were very short at only 2 miles each, and the elevation of the site. I'd prefer longer loops for an ultra so this was as much a test of my mind as of my body/pace.

Traviss and Rachel were using a band system to count the laps we'd done and when we collected our race number we were given a carabiner (a clip) with 12 bands on. Each time we completed a lap we had to throw a band into a box and when they were all gone we had to pick up a flag and carry that for our last lap. I did struggle to get my bands off the clip each time which caused much hilarity for the marshalls as I was concentrating so hard trying to get each band off that I zigzagged all over the place!

As always, I'll start with the weather. It was WINDY and the forecast was for gusts up to 50mph. Deep joy, at least it wasn't raining this time I visited Betteshanger Country Park. The temperature was OK but the strong wind made me keep my lightweight jacket on for over 1/2 the marathon.

I'd heard that the track was fast and people who'd run another marathon there the day before had recorded good times so my plan was to go out as fast as felt comfortable (within reason of course!) until the halfway point and then do the remainder at my ultra pace.

I was running really strongly for several laps and then was joined by James who was taking things easier because he'd won the marathon the day before. Chatting always helps pass the miles. As usual there was lots of banter and fun with fellow runners and plenty of hugging too. Paul, aka Mr Ambassador, was busy walking around and high-fiving us and waving a flag.

The wind was really gusting on a couple of the exposed sections of each loop; sometimes from the side and sometimes we were running into it which really sapped your strength. I spent a lot of time with my buff (the purple thing round my neck which you can see in the photo above) pulled over my nose and mouth as the wind really affects my asthma and my breathing can become very laboured.

I reached the halfway point in 2:08 but did I slow down then? No, of course I didn't, I decided to push on a bit longer for a couple more laps and when I found I was in potential PB territory at 20 miles (3:25) I had another dilemma - slow down and be sensible or push on regardless bearing in mind I do not want to pick up an injury as I have 2 marathons next weekend!

Well, common sense prevailed and I tried out my ultra pace for the last 3 laps to finish in 4:56:12 (I did actually have a few minutes break at the aid station where Dee had saved me some of her amazing brownies with cream eggs in - oh my, it was wonderful. It was so wonderful that I knew I had to save half of it for Mike so I wrapped it up and kept it safe in my pocket for him (believe me, that took an awful lot of willpower and love!!!).

Another massive chunk of a medal for my collection!

After I'd finished Rachel asked me what I thought of the course as she knows my aim is the ultra there and I said I thought it was good and it's given me confidence for the task ahead so I'm really glad I did it.

I've jotted down my thoughts to help me focus:

- I think the surface is good as the tarmac has a degree of springiness to it so it's not too hard on your feet.

- It's a safe environment, there's no navigation and there's a super aid station every 2 miles manned by wonderful supportive people who will gladly hug sweaty runners when needed and administer cake/chocolate/biscuits/drinks as required.

- The laps are short. This is either good or bad depending on how you view it. Ideally I'd choose longer laps as starting with 25 bands (?) might make it seem rather daunting. Having said that, it's just the same as the Kent Roadrunner marathon where you get 20 bands just for a marathon and I haven't had any problems with that!

- The long drag of an incline, which seemed like a slight undulation after 26 miles, will probably feel like a HILL after 40 miles.

- The weather will play a part for sure. It could be windy as the site is exposed or it could be baking hot, either of which could have a bearing on my time (there is a 12 hour cut-off).

- I've been there so many times now that there isn't much left to see. Oh quit whingeing Susie, you always find something to interest you whether it's flora, fauna, patterns or people!

1 comment:

Lowcarb team member said...

Pleased to read about Denny ...but I will send some more good thoughts her way.

All the best Jan