Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Marathon 47 of 60 - it's all about da bling (and cake!)

I apologise in advance for what will be a rather self-indulgent post about battling gremlins. So I think the best thing to do is to show the afore-mentioned bling so you can just skip the rest of it if you like:

How fabulous is that! To get an idea of the size,  it's 13cm top to bottom and 14cm across the CAKEATHON and weighs it at a whopping 338g. 

Right, here we go with the gory details.

First there's the cake element. This was another wonderfully creative idea for an event by Travis and Rachel, runners and race organisers extraordinare. They noticed that it was 100 years since the formation of the Women's Institute and as the WI is renowned for cake-making they decided to stage an event which included cake. They set a date for the event in August but as soon as they released a photo of the medal (with pink icing on the cakes) all the remaining places sold out within a matter of hours with a waiting list a mile long!

It had been on my to do list but I hadn't got round to entering so was disappointed to have missed out. No need to worry though as the enterprising pair then sneaked in another version, which you see above, on the May Bank Holiday and I booked myself a place pdq. Even Mike said that I just had to do it to add that beauty to my collection even though I'd already got 2 marathons soon after! 

The beauty of the event is that it's a timed event, with laps of 3.44 miles, rather than one based on distance so you could complete as many or as few laps as you liked within the 6 hour time limit and still claim that magnificent medal. I think that's a wonderful idea as it encourages new runners to see how far they can go and I had a lovely chat with one lady who wondered if she could get past the half marathon distance and see from the results that she did. At the other end of the scale there were many runners who went on to complete 9, 10 or 11 laps within the time limit.

As with all Travis and Rachel's events there was a lovely camaraderie amongst the runners and walkers.

Now about the cake. There's always cake at these events but this time they asked people to bring their own creations along. My cakes never look special but do taste good so I opted for a good old banana cake using a Nigella recipe. As I made it I pouted suggestively at the imaginary TV cameras and afterwards licked the spoon trying to look sultry. Tilly the cat was not impressed!

I added my label and hoped that people would enjoy it

The event was held at Fowlmead Country Park which I first visited last year for the Fowlmead Challenge, my 37th marathon. How fitting that this was my 47th marathon - you know how I love numbers (7 months later). It's a 1.5 hour drive each way and so I'd left bright and early but here's the thing, I was not in the zone at all. I dawdled around getting ready, lingered over silly things and when I came to say goodbye to Mike I was feeling a bit teary for no apparent reason. That really set the trend for the whole day.

I had a good journey, parked up, met lots of lovely people I've come to known well over the last few years but I felt somehow disconnected and was very inward-looking. Hmm, shake yourself out of it please Susie I thought. So I took a few photos at the start to try and snap out of it:

I forgot to mention that Rachel, on the left, and Travis had recently announced their engagement. I'd got them a card but forgot to take it with me - doh!

The start area was in a different place from last year and I was pleased that the route had changed slightly and didn't pass through the quagmire on the slag heap as it did before (who will ever trust Travis again when he says "you won't need trail shoes"?!!!). This time you really didn't need trail shoes.

The next 3 photos were taken by the start and apart from the cake stand are the only ones I took all day. I think that gives an indication of my state of mind especially as I saw so many wonderful things on each lap.

Andrew did a splendid job of manning the cake stand. After my first lap I had the end piece of my cake to try and shake off my gloom. The next time I looked 3/4 of it had gone and Andrew made me chuckle by saying mine was 'trending'. I asked him to save a piece for me to take home for Mike which he did - thanks Andrew.
I won't give a blow by blow account of my internal battle but I'll share a few bits for fellow runners who will undoubtedly identify with it.

First I have to mention the weather. Here's what the weather-forecast was for the Bank Holiday weekend together with what actually happened in brackets: Saturday, hot, best day for a BBQ with sunshine all day (cold, windy in the morning, heavy rain in the afternoon). Sunday, overcast with heavy showers (cloudy first thing but cleared to baking hot sun for the rest of the day). Monday, dull with the likelihood of showers (If only! It was hot when I left home at 6am and just got hotter throughout the day as evidenced by my sunburn and very unattractive sock, shorts and bra lines!).

When we set off I was feeling fine physically and soon settled into a decent pace. I wasn't aiming for a time as I've got another marathon on Saturday so just wanted to enjoy the day. My mind, however had a different plan. I knew it was going to be difficult one when I heard someone ring the bell after their first lap and thought 'well, I don't HAVE to do the full marathon distance if I don't want to'. This set in motion a battle of wits I haven't engaged in for some time. 

I'll share a small portion of my internal dialogue so you can see what I mean: 

Gremlins: "It doesn't mater if you don't do the marathon distance as you've got contingency in place". 
Me: "Yes it does, 'cos people have sponsored me for this event".

Gremlins, "No-one cares if you do it or not".
Me: "I care!"

Gremlins: "You're overheating.  Just stop and go home". This was actually true as I was starting to feel a bit grotty.
Me: "No, I'm doing this to push myself to the limit so that people understand how important it is to invest in dementia research".

Gremlins: "You really are slowing down now. Just give it up and go home".
Me: No answer, just got a bit teary.

I think that's quite enough of that nonsense thank you very much, suffice to say that I kept smiling throughout and chatted with lots of fellow runners which really helped me keep going. I doubt that anyone would have guessed quite how much I struggled yesterday and I'm really glad I kept going as I'd never have forgiven myself if I'd pulled out. I saw so many beautiful things en-route and although I'm cross with myself for not stopping to take photos I know that if I had then I'd have struggled to get going again.

I finished my 8th lap, marathon distance, in 5:25:09 and Travis presented me with my huge medal complete with special badges and the usual wonderful goody bag. I love the badge at the top which is for completing over 200 miles in their events.

I can safely say that was my hardest marathon in ages and just shows that no matter how many marathons you run they don't get any easier. I'm hoping that the Kent Roadrunner marathon on Saturday isn't as tough!

When I arrived home I got a big hug from Mike which made everything better. He declared that it was my best medal yet and it now has pride of place in my collection.

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