Monday, September 25, 2017

Marathon 123 & a 10k

Yep, marathon (or rather 'ultra') number 123 was completed this week at the Tolkien Challenge down at beautiful Samphire Hoe.

First though I sneaked in a 10k race a few days beforehand. It was the first running of the Rother Valley 10k, organised by the Northiam Bonfire Boyes, one of the many bonfire societies in our area, and the route went along many of the lanes on which I train all the time so I just had to do it even though I haven't run a 10k for several years (I don't think I have any fast twitch muscles left having done mostly marathons for so long!).

It was also exciting as it started at the railway station in Northiam and finished at beautiful Bodiam Castle which has appeared on my blog many times before. It was very well organised as they had involved the Rother Valley Railway which meant runners and supporters could park in the grounds of Bodiam Castle then catch a steam train train to the start and then supporters could watch the start then catch the train back to Bodiam to wait for their runner. There was also plenty of parking at the start. The other good thing was that people got to explore the castle and grounds if they liked so there was lots to see and do for everyone. Great idea.

What made it extra special for me was that Mike was able to walk down to the castle to watch me finish and we made a date to have coffee and cake in the National Trust's tearooms afterwards which is always a treat.

I did though have a dilemma about getting to the start; should I run there (which might mean I was tired before the race) or take the car and park at the start and then have to go and collect it later. As I wasn't expecting to get a fast time I decided to just run the 4.75 miles there which gave me a nice warm-up beforehand without the faff of collecting the car later.  I basically ran all but 1 mile of the route in reverse to get there which turned the morning into a shortish training run - 4.75 miles there, 6.1 miles raced, 1.25 miles walked home so it was a nice gentle leg-stretcher. As I ran there I kept passing the marshalls setting up water stations and they were most amused that I was running there then racing.

I didn't take the camera with me so Mike could take photos so here are some he took on his walk down:

As expected, there were plenty of club runners there so I knew there would be some speedy times, especially from the Hastings Runners as they are well used to the sort of hills on the route. I positioned myself in the middle of the runners and I fully expected to be passed by some speedy runners but that didn't happen.

I had no idea what time I would do so I deliberately didn't look at my watch at all during the race. After we crossed the start line we headed straight up a long hill and I found I was passing people right from the very start which was a surprise. Then we turned up a slightly steeper hill towards Great Dixter and some people started walking and so I passed them too. This continued throughout the whole race and I'm guessing that the people I passed weren't used to running on hills as not one person went past me (and that's very unusual!!!).

As I ran through our village there were a couple of locals out supporting which was nice (thanks Maggie and Mira) and the marshalls were all friendly and encouraging. Running into the castle grounds felt lovely as it's a route I use frequently and I spotted Mike from afar which made it extra special.


As I was snaffling a banana there was something exciting going on at the finish line!

"Will you marry me?"

Thankfully she said "YES"!

My finish time? 1:02 and 4th out of 10 in my age category. My 10k pb is 52 minutes but this was a much tougher route so I was very pleased with that thank you very much! Then it was time for coffee and cake to fuel the walk home. I can't show a photo of my medal as I seem to have put it down somewhere at home and can't find it. Doh!

Tolkientastic (marathon 123)

Next up was the Tolkien Challenge and I'd decided I was going to do an extra lap to turn it into an ultra marathon. I tried desperately not to stop and take too many photos but I couldn't resist snapping some of the beautiful cloud formations in the morning:

Although it was overcast and rather hazy we could see the coastline of France quite clearly

There weren't many people out walking in the morning so we didn't have to weave in and out of them which made a nice change. Plus there weren't as many fishermen down on the seawall. Although it was overcast it was rather warm and to begin with there was a very welcome breeze along the seawall. That changed halfway through though as the wind got stronger and stronger which is more like what we're used to experiencing there.

A small herd of cows took a break from eating to watch us for a while

It proved a bit boring for this lady though!

There's not much to say about my run except that I paced myself quite well and the extra lap didn't wear me out. I actually passed marathon distance in a course pb of 5:25 which was a bonus and ended up doing 30 miles in 6:17:19 which was useful 'time on feet' (all part of my cunning plan for my next challenge). 

Another fab Tolkien medal from Traviss

It glows in the dark!

Next up is the Sussex marathon in a couple of weeks. I had to pull out of this one last year as Mike was poorly so I've got unfinished business there. Onwards and upwards - hopefully I'll be able to catch up with a few more posts (Batemans is on my mind and I don't want to forget it so need to do that soon......).

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