Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Some Relativity and a Leap Year

Marathons 68 & 69 are now in the bag with 70 & 71 to follow early next week. 68 was a struggle right from the start but 69 was rather pleasant thank goodness. Both of these events were organised by Traviss and Rachel so even if the weather is horrible you know you'll get great support, lots of hugs and then a fab medal/goody bag. They had organised 4 different marathons/challenge events over a long weekend and some amazing people ran all 4 whilst I opted just for the last 2. I chuckled when I typed "just for the last 2" as when I'd finished someone asked me if I'd done all 4 events and when I replied in a similar vein Greg commented that only in our circle could you say you'd "only" done 2 marathons back to back !

Day 1, Marathon 68 - The Relativity Run (celebrating 100 years since Albert Einstein published his theory of general relativity)

This event was held near Margate which looks out towards the English Channel. It's a town Mike and I used to visit annually for about 5 years when we took part in what was known as 'the convertible convoy' which was organised by the London branch of The Lady Taverners. This basically involved about 150 owners of Saab convertible cars meeting up in central London and then taking a whole load of autistic children and their carers on a trip to Margate to visit Dreamland. We met some lovely youngsters and their carers and we were sad when this annual event ceased. That was about 18 years ago and in the intervening years the amusement park did not fare well at all -  there was a proposal to close the site and build housing and the famous wooden railway was virtually destroyed by fire. This triggered a campaign to save and rebuild the amusement park and it finally reopened in 2015 (although there still seem to be problems with funding and in-fighting!).

The weather forecast was for a biting cold wind coming from the East and given that we would be running along the North Kent coast it looked as if this was going to be a tough one. I knew it was bad when I arrived at the cark park and everyone was sitting in their cars and when I ventured out to collect my running number I nearly got blown over. Deep joy! I decided to take a few photos then scurried back to my car to warm up with a cup of coffee.

Looking towards Margate

Container ships on the horizon

The tide was heading out when I arrived and it revealed the nice sandy beach. Mike and I have spent many happy hours collecting shells there.

A study in grey!

The view to the West and the concrete section from hell!

A 'huddle' of runners (I think that's a good collective noun!) trying to shelter from the wind.

This was a special day for Andy who was running his 100th marathon on what was not the easiest days to be running along the Kent coast. Well done Andy and it was nice to see him out the next day wearing his new blue and yellow vest. There was a celebration in the evening where 3 of our little running family toasted their 100 club memberships so a massive well done to Andy, Philip and David for your brilliant achievement (with thanks to Trisha for the photos which I've pinched off FB).


Proud boys (left to right, David, Andy & Phil) with Heather who makes the most amazing cakes.

But there was also something extra special about Philip's celebration because he has gone and got himself a couple of Guinness World Records during his quest to reach 100 marathons - he took 450 days to go from 0 - 100 marathons (taking the crown away from Traviss who holds the current record of 688 days) plus he took 140 days to get from 50 - 100 marathons as opposed to the previous record of 171 days. Now those are 2 amazing records and it's no wonder he looks so proud!

But I'm getting ahead of myself as usual.

This was a 6 hour timed event so you could choose to run as many or as few laps as you liked. Each lap was about 6.7 miles along the coastal path towards the pier then back to touch a railing at the end of the concrete section of the sea wall. Some of us knew what to expect on the concrete section as it forms part of the Kent Coastal marathon which I've run a couple of times (my first Kent coastal marathon & my second when I took 28 minutes off my first time). When I read back my previous posts I made it sound like a very enjoyable experience but the weather was much kinder to us then.

As we set off into the wind I knew I might have a struggle on my hands as the cold, biting wind literally took my breath away so I spent 1/2 of each lap looking like this:


But even my lovely purple cowl couldn't stop the naughty wind getting into my lungs and wreaking its havoc and I could feel my chest getting tighter, my breath becoming shallower and the gunk forming until it felt as if I was breathing though treacle. Botheration and double botheration. By the halfway point I was seriously considering stopping but thankfully I gave myself a talking-to, dug a bit deeper and eventually found the it-doesn't-matter-what-time-you-finish-in place my brain needed to find at which point I stopped even trying to run into the wind and just walked those sections.

I knew I could make the cut-off of 6 hours by walking and so, having made my decision, it just took all the pressure off and I started to enjoy the experience much more - see how important your mindset is in distance running!

I ran alongside the lovely Karen for a while and at one turnaround we saw Graham down on the beach and he caught us together (thanks for some more great photos Graham and sorry to hear you were feeling poorly):

Once we'd turned around to head back into the wind I started taking some photos of anything that caught my eye.

The modern-looking building is the Turner Contemporary gallery which we keep meaning to visit but haven't managed yet.

The former offices of the Margate Pier and Harbour Company are now a visitor information centre. Above the entrance there's a neon sign which reads 'I never stopped loving you' which I assumed must have been by Tracy Emin who grew up in Margate. On further investigation I found I was correct in my assumption and it had been commissioned by the Turner Contemporary to time with its opening. It is described as a "neon artwork" (can you see me rolling my eyes at that!!!).

The sun came out for a while and the tide started coming in. On the far left you can see the other turnaround point at which we had to touch the statue of Mrs Booth seen below……….

……but I chose to run round it each time

Mrs Booth was the landlady with whom JMW Turner would stay whenever he visited Margate. Her house stood on the site now occupied by the Turner Contemporary gallery. I loved seeing her image looking out to sea and imagined Turner looking at the same glorious expansive skies.

Someone had put a pair of knickers in her hands!

Here's Ruth in her gorgeous teal-coloured leggings. I'm getting serious leggings envy at the moment with all the brightly coloured ones I keep seeing.

A view along the promenade with Maryanne rocking her pink leggings!

A better view of the clocktower

The lampposts along the prom were delightful with 2 dolphins at their base

I found this statue rather moving. It is of a lifeboatman permanently looking out to sea and commemorates all those who have lost their lives at sea whilst trying to save others. The massive tower block behind jarred somewhat.

I felt rather sad for Margate as it seemed so very run down in parts. This was a surprise to me as I'd heard about so many different rejeneration projects that I expected it to have been transformed but it hadn't and in fact it seemed even more run down than I remembered. What happened to the regeneration that was promised by Mary Portas in her high profile TV programme?

There were several buildings along the seafront which had been restored to their former glory yet they stood amidst crumbling modern concrete buildings covered in grafitti. Underneath the arches of another building was what looked like a pile of old mattresses and blankets but was actually a group of so-called 'rough sleepers'. So sad.

I was having a bit of a clothing malfunction day as well and at one point I must have dropped a wristband when taking off a glove (we got a band each time we completed a lap and they are counted at the finish) but thankfully Andy found it and handed it in - although my GPS device would have shown that I did do all the laps.

On my last lap I enjoyed watching the tide coming back in but not so much the spray that caught me a few times!

There was lots of hugging en-route and plenty of banter too which really helped keep me going. I was worried to see James walking having been powering ahead to begin with but he'd picked up an injury and poor Brian was still suffering with a very sore shoulder (although he still managed to churn out 4 marathons in 4 days!).

Although it was a 'challenge' event I never intended to go over marathon distance and I was mighty glad to finish in 5:48:03. The official results show the course as being 26.80 miles but my GPS watch showed 27 miles so I got extra value for my money. Oh and I also got the usual amazing goody bag full of yummy things plus this fabulous medal:

What a wonderful medal

I'd been blessed with an uneventful journey to Margate but sadly my journey home took ages due to roadworks. It didn't matter though as Mike had kindly fed the horses and I'd already prepared our evening meal and so all I had to do was clean myself up and relax ready to get up at silly o'clock the next day.

Day 2 - the Leap Year Challenge

The day hadn't actually dawned when I got up and there certainly weren't any larks up and about but I did see a beautiful Barn Owl hunting along our field margins and the good thing was it felt much milder and there wasn't as much wind.

This time I was heading off to the very pretty Pegwell Bay near Ramsgate which is just along the coast from the day before and I first visited the same time last year. I wasn't sure what the traffic would be like on a normal working day so I'd left extra time for my journey but it was fine and I arrived with plenty of time to spare.

Although it wasn't as breezy it was still a bit chilly first thing but after a few hours the sun even popped out for a while.

I only took a few photos first thing as nothing new and really interesting caught my eye on this occasion.

The only other photo (sorry Leo!) I took was this as the smoke, rising intermittently, caught my eye - it looked as if it was making clouds. 

My legs felt fine straight away and I was overjoyed to find that my breathing was back to normal even though my flow reading was a bit on the low side. My plan was to use this event as a pacing exercise for my 50 miler so I wanted to run the first half at about 12 minute miling or thereabouts overall. This meant that I had to push a bit harder going up the slope but that wasn't an issue as it was only a gentle slope.

You had to complete 8 laps for marathon distance and I reached the halfway point in 2:30 which is pretty darned close to perfect pacing. Then I wanted to slow down to around 13 minute miling but without walking, to see how that felt. It felt fine. Yippeee!

There were some great performances from everyone, some of whom had already run 3 marathons/or even ultras already and there was much chatter and banter as always. Louise had a sore knee so she and Fiona opted for a run/walk strategy interspersed with some singing and I chuckled when I saw the results and realised they had gone beyond marathon distance - lovely nutters! Then there was Gary who wasn't sure whether to go ultra and ended up running the furthest on the day with 36 miles but the best result of all was for Gemma who completed marathon distance.

I was delighted that everything was working out so well and it really gave me a confidence boost. Anna snapped me just before I passed the Viking longboat (you can see a photo of it in the link at the start) and I really was feeling fine - look at that lovely blue sky.

As always I was pernickety about my bands and on this day Trisha, seen behind Paul's dad, declared it should be a pink day so I amassed a lovely collection of various shades of deep pink!

Look at the concentration on my face! Thanks to Tony Jarvis photography for the photo.

As I started my last lap I realised I hadn't seen Maryanne for a while and wondered if she was in front or behind so I glanced back and there she walking along not far behind so I waited until she caught up so we could do the remaining bit together. Now Maryanne's walking pace is on the cusp of my slow running/power walking pace so I opted for fast walking to stretch out my legs and it worked a treat.

Maryanne knows the area well as she lives quite nearby and so she told me lots of things of local interest that I'd wondered about. I now know that the massive greenhouses with glowing lights I saw on my way back from Margate are Thanet Earth growing tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. The signs for 'Planet Thanet' relate to the whole area. The concrete road we ran along as part of our loop was built orginally for an old hoverport, abandoned long ago. The big towerblock near Ramsgate we could see at the top of the slope was the same one we can see in the distance when we're at the Betteshanger Country Park which is further along the coast (I'll take a photo of that next time I'm at Betteshanger because I was also interested to see the white cliffs of Ramsgate last time I was there as I never knew there were chalk cliffs on that part of the coast). Thanks Maryanne, I love learning more about new areas.

We did a little .5 mile run towards the finish as we wanted to finish under 5.5 hours and managed it in 5:27:43. The walking really had loosened off my legs nicely.

Traviss was sporting this rather snug looking jacket which he obligingly let me try on. Oh my, that's one snuggly coat and I can see why ultra runners would love them, especially for taking a power nap inbetween stages. Thanks again to Tony Jarvis for the photos.

I love this froggy medal!

Now I've got a few days rest until the next 2, one of which I haven't run for several years and is somewhat challenging as it's on the South Downs and will undoubtedly be muddy. I'm not complaining though as I've been pining for a few trail marathons which I've missed this last 12 months.

I'd better take some photos of my craft stuff soon as my posts have all been about marathons lately!

1 comment:

Old Runningfox. said...

Apart from all the mad runners there weren't many folk about on either day Susie, which says a lot about the weather. Well done on yet another amazing double. Friends said I was mad for running the Yorkshire 3 Peaks a week after the London Marathon. Dunno what they'd say about you doing back to back marathons?