Sunday, August 7, 2016

2 Fat Ladies - Marathon 88

For anyone who doesn't get the '2 fat ladies' in the title, it's a reference to a Bingo call and isn't meant to be sizeist (sp?) in any way.

The weather forecast was for SUN on Saturday so I was well prepared with sun lotion Factor 60 and plenty of fluids when I headed off to Walton-on-Thames for a riparian run. This was my second event from Rik of Phoenix Running, the first being the Phone Home Run back in June when it poured with rain for most of the time.

I left home a bit later than last time and had a reasonable journey although the traffic on the M25, aka the car park, was heavy. I parked by the Leisure Centre and reached for my phone to let Mike know I'd arrived in one piece but oh-oh, no phone. I'd had a very stressful hospital visit the day before and mustn't have been concentrating when I'd laid everything out as usual the night before. Botheration (or something along those lines)! I nipped into Reception and asked if there was a pay-phone I could use but the nice man at the counter let me use the office phone, bless him and I knew there was a pay-phone on my route home so it wasn't a complete disaster.

As I headed off to collect my number I took a couple of snaps and then wandered off to look at the river before the start.

A brace of Race directors! On the left we have Rik of Phoenix Running and on the right we have Dave Foxy Bayley of Enigma Running

I liked my number as although I won't be 60 until next year I am still in the midst of my 60th birthday challenge!

There were lots of people I knew milling around so there were plenty of people to chat with.


Bionic Karen aka the Crazy Squirrel. It was wonderful to see her back at an event as she's had a long lay-off with broken bones and all sorts of problems.

Nuala and Paul

It was already rather warm at 8:30am and there wasn't a cloud in the sky

After my little wander I headed back and waited for the pre-race briefing from Rik:

He announced details of the route, toilet/aid station facilities etc and that we were celebrating someones 100th marathon

Then he was presented with his own special vest and medal from the Irish 100 Marathon Club (which is a different entity from the UK version).

After that we all headed down to the towpath and the race began. This time we were going in the opposite direction from the Phone Home Run and the laps were longer - we just had to complete 4 laps for marathon distance. This meant I got to see lots of different things and as it was such a beautiful day the river was especially busy.

We ran along the towpath towards Hampton Court as as we approached the turnaround point for the first time I suddenly realised that I haven't written about the Garden Society's visit to Hampton Court Palace a few weeks ago. What reminded me was the arched brick bridge you can see in the background of the next photo as the coach dropped us off near there and we walked over it. I've made a mental note to dig out my photos as it was absolutely glorious there and then there's still Village in Bloom to document and crafting bits and bobs.........


As the weather was so warm my game plane was to run the first half at a quicker pace than usual and then slow right down for the second half. I didn't take any photos until the last lap but kept making a mental note of what I wanted to snap.

We had to share the towpath with others including bicycles, walkers, runners, families out for a walk and so you had to pay attention and listen out for cyclists approaching from behind. Most of them either rang their bell or called out to let us know they were coming through. Conditions underfoot were perfect although rather dusty and my shoes, socks, feet and legs were covered in dust by the time I'd finished. The towpath was a mix of surfaces including tarmac and concrete but mostly it was mixed trail of either soil with tree roots or gravel with loose clinker on top.

Although I did a couple of trips (you know the ones when you haven't lifted your feet enough and you stumble forwards and either manage to regain control or fall flat on your face!), I managed to stay upright this time.

As always there was lots of banter with fellow runners to help pass the miles. There was also banter with both pedestrians and river-users. I had some fun with the traffic on the river, waving to some and  I even raced a large barge from where they'd come through the lock to the registration where our numbers were recorded (it was only a couple of hundred metres but I held my own!). Bystanders asked what we were doing and offered encouragement and I was even offered a glass of champagne by a man on a rather nice looking cruiser when he tied up near a pub alongside me!

I'll let the photos from my last lap tell the rest of the story:

Waiting to go through the lock

The lock gates starting to open

Big boats and little boats

Rather glamorous looking boats!

Some of the route was lined with trees and the dappled shade they cast was very welcome. In my last 2 laps I ran all the sunny bits and walked the shady bits to relish the coolness they offered. I had to keep taking my sunglasses off as my eyesight can't cope with sudden changes in light and I needed to be able to see those pesky tree roots.

I was fascinated by these amazing floating houses in so many different styles:



This one looked as if it was straight out of a Mark Twain novel!

Quite apart from the larger leisure boats there were plenty of dingys, rowing boats, skiffs and people doing stand-up paddle-boarding which looked good fun.

Davo did a great job of manning the aid station at the turnaround point (thanks Davo).

I thought I'd probably be finishing in around 6 hours so was pleasantly surprised to finish in 5:37:51 which was OK considering how hot it was. I didn't hang around afterward as I knew my journey home would be tedious and I wasn't wrong as it took an hour longer than usual to get home!

So that's marathon 88 completed with 3 more at the end of this week. I've now chosen which marathons will be my 99th and 100th but I'm not going to announce the dates on here just yet in case I jinx myself (although lots of people know already!).

It's still rather surreal actually.

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