Tuesday, December 6, 2016

52 marathons in 52 weeks

I couldn't think up a snappy title for this post. It could also have been entitled 6 marathons in 12 days,  5 marathons in 9 days, 2 double marathons in 6 days, 100 marathons and beyond, 12 double marathons in 11 months, marathons 104 - 110. It's all really just playing around with numbers.

Because I knew this was going to be a really tough 12 days for me I decided to just take each day at a time, run however I felt on the day and try not to stop and take too many photos but still enjoy the scenery. I've put them in chronological order with not too many words as frankly they can all be summed up by this one sentence - "I ran another marathon today"!

Timelord on the Thames

This entry came about because of a chance encounter with Tom Baker, my favourite Doctor Who, whilst collecting my horse feed in a village nearby several months ago. He was hobbling along with walking sticks and we exchanged comments about arthritis, as you do! Then Rik announced this event, I told him about our encounter and another running chum very kindly offered me her place as a donation to my fund-raising (I donated the cost of her place to ARUK).

So that's why I left home at a very silly and unsociable hour on a weekday morning for a journey around the car park that is the M25. Well thank goodness I did leave with plenty of time to spare as there was a train strike that morning so lots of people had to use their cars to get to work and what should have been a 1.5 hour journey took nearly 3 hours and I didn't have much time to spare before the start.

Lots of people had dressed up for the occasion:

The route, which I've run before, was along the river at Walton-on-Thames and the weather was kind to us which was a blessing. Conditions underfoot weren't too bad either with just a few muddy puddles to navigate.

There were lots of people I knew there and I hooked up with Bryan for the last 2 laps.

I didn't set a target time and we finished in 5:38:06 (having caught up with our news) and Dee snapped us just after our celebratory hug.

Isn't this a fab medal. 

Even better, when you open the little doors, look who's inside wearing his trademark stripey scarf!

I had 2 days off before the next two marathons.

Saxon Shore Day 1 (Deal)

The next set of 5 marathons formed part of one of Traviss and Rachel's events consisting of 10 marathons in 10 days at different venues around the Kent Coast. Those taking part had already run one marathon the day before.

I've been to Deal several times before and I quite enjoy the route, especially when it isn't too windy or cold. On this occasion though it was both slightly windy and quite cold to boot, hence my trusty balaclava came in very handy. I decided not to take any photos unless there was something really special to snap (there are plenty here to give a feel for the route).

The sky looked amazing when we set off and it was a roiling sea with waves crashing against the breakers.

I like these out and back routes as you get to chat with lots of people en-route and there's plenty of high-fiving and hugs when needed. I felt fine and settled into my target pace quite easily.

The tarmac paths we ran along were much kinder than the concrete and shingle of the route we encountered the next day! I set myself a target time of 5:15 and I finished in 5:12:38 so was very happy with that.

Saxon shore Day 2 (Deal)

Same place, slightly different route with longer laps, which I usually prefer but not on this occasion, oh no! Although part of it was on tarmac and concrete, another section was on shingle which was a real trip-hazard. Several people stumbled on it and I made the decision to power-walk those sections and I'm really glad I did.

This was the turnaround point for day 1 but for day 2 we went up the steps into unknown territory

Catching up with Emine and Theresa

Oh-oh, the sky went dark and the storm clouds gathered as I approached the last 3 miles.

Oh look, a double rainbow (you can just about make it out through the torrential rain that ensued)

I got well and truly soaked through to the skin and had to peel off my clothing in the car. Good job I'd taken some nice dry clothes just in case.

I set a target time of 5:30 and I finished in 5:27:39.

Another 2 day break before the next 2 marathons.

St. Andrew's Day Challenge (Margate)

Off to Margate for this one, thankfully in much less windy conditions than last time I was there. However, this time there were severe weather warnings in place with heavy frost forecast which of course meant I had to leave home even earlier as our little lanes don't get gritted like the main roads so I had to be extra careful until I reached the major roads. Thankfully the main roads had been gritted so were OK.

Soon as I'd phoned Mike to let him know I'd arrived safely I was out of the car and taking in the views because WOW, it was so beautiful. I knew then that I wouldn't be able to resist some photo taking so gave myself a target time of 5:45 to allow for some sea-gazing.

Millsy taking Andy for a walk

When we set off the beach looked white with a thick layer of frost. Some bits, where the sun didn't reach, remained frozen throughout the day.

Not sure whose photo I've used here but it's better than mine so thanks to either Graham or Martin !

We've run this route before and I absolutely adore the expansive views of the sea and sky here. I really understand why JMW Turner spent so much time here trying to capture them. Each time I venture here I take far too many photos of the sea - it's the pattern of the waves and the ever-changing colours of the sea and sky. Just stunning. 

Then there are the sea birds and it's these little beauties, the Turnstones, that always stop me in my tracks and make me watch them. It's the way they scuttle that I love.

As it was St. Andrew's Day I wore my tartan flat cap and some matching tights under my leggings.

The iconic shell representation of Mrs Booth, Turner's landlady.

I really enjoyed the whole day and finished in 5:37:56.

The Advent Challenge (Ramsgate)

The next day we were at a new venue in Ramsgate and I really enjoyed this route too. It was cold again but the views were lovely and there were lots of very friendly people out and about walking with or without dogs in tow.

I got there nice and early and managed to park right by the start.

Graham multi-tasking on car park duties before running and taking photos

Base camp

That's one heck of a selfie-stick Graham!

I knew right from the start that I was going to take lots of photos as it just felt like one of those days and so I gave myself another 5:45 target finish time and just enjoyed the whole experience.

I researched this sculpture of hands and what looked like molecules and discovered that it was funded by Pfizer in 2000 to mark the opening of the National Cycle Network in Thanet.

There were several elderly men enjoying their model boats on the boating lake.

Our route was rather convoluted but with interesting views on each turn. After a few hundred metres along the main road we turned to go down onto the lower level towards Ramsgate Docks. This involved going through a stone archway and down a short sharp slope which we then had to run or walk up on the way back.

Concentrating quite hard as the surface on this section was a bit uneven

As it was such a lovely bright day there were lots of people out. I lost count of the number of people who asked what we were doing and if everyone was doing it for ARUK. I had nice chats with 3 lovely people, 2 of whom gave me donations for my fund-raising which really made my day. I spent a few minutes chatting with one lady whose husband is in the late stages of dementia and I hope chatting with me helped her to know that there people out there who understand and care about what she's going through.

Then there were the dog-walkers. Big dogs, small dogs, yappy dogs, friendly dogs but this little quartet caught my eye for obvious reasons; just look at their lovely knitted coats.

This little moppet was being taught tricks and the lady spent ages down there putting her through her paces.

There was a turnaround point marked on the ground and then we headed back up the sharp incline through the rocks to the higher level and then along towards the town centre where we got some great views of the docks.

People kept asking me if I was responsible for this yarn-bombing of a lamppost which made me chuckle. I did ask permission to do that on Tower Bridge for the London marathon one year but got a resounding "NO!" in response (pity as it would have been great fun).

There was a downhill section here and another turnaround point before we headed back up to
the checkpoint and started the whole process again. I actually didn't mind that hill as it's just like my regular running route at home so I jogged gently up it each time. It's the short, sharp inclines I dislike as I can't get my breath properly.

I loved all these original balconies on the terrace of houses.

I finished in 5:41:50 and felt surprisingly good. I had another 2 day break before the last one of my series which was also the last one for all the wonderful people who completed all 9 thus far. Believe me, anyone who'd made it that far wasn't going to give up at the final hurdle!

Dymchurch Marathon

Now this is one of those 'Marmite' routes - you either love it or hate it. I love most of the seaside routes and I have a soft spot for poor old Dymchurch as I love the light. Admittedly I don't like the concrete after about 5 hours but that's just part of the deal.

The weather forecast was quite good except for the usual wind for one half of each lap.

The lovely Dee on photographic and aid station duties as always whilst Philip runs around at an ever-increasing velocity! He actually wasn't the only person to speed up over the 10 marathons.

That's Martin in the yellow. He's the Lord Mayor of Folkestone which is just along the coast from Dymchurch and he's often seen at these events.

Arriving with my banana cake in hand

At the race briefing Traviss made some very special announcements about the 27 wonderful and inspiring people who would be completing their 10th marathon in 10 days there. Some of them I know very well, others I've got to know better during the week.

All of them are amazing.

But one young man, Adam Holland, went that little bit further and got himself the Guinness World Record for the fastest time to complete 10 marathons in 10 days, snatching the title away from Rik, of Pheonix Running (who was very gracious about it). I first met Adam when I did my first ever double marathon in Dover a few years ago and he made running a marathon look like a short trot around the park. Congratulations Adam, you are brilliant. You can read all about him here.

Excellent photo-bombing from Kirsty there!

The route we took was slightly different from the norm and went out one way for 1.7 miles from the start, then turn-around and head back to the start and go out the other way until you can't go any further, turn around and head back to the start. We had to repeat this 3  times (or was it 4? I can't remember now!).

The downside was that in one direction we were running into the wind and it was a bit fierce. I was rather asthmatic on the day and so ran with my balaclava over my face most of the time, only peeping out to take a few photos or to exchange words/hugs with fellow runners.

Oh my, those colours!

I was surprised to find that my legs felt fine throughout and so I set a target finish time of 5:15, crossing the line in 5:08:11. 

Unfortunately, Dee managed to catch me with a very strange facial expression so I thought I'd share it as it makes a change from my usual grin!

That is not a good look Susie!!!

That's a bit better and the medal's purple too (my favourite colour)

I think it's time for a show of bling from those last 5 marathons along the Kent coast:


A fabulous medal for St. Andrew's Day - I love Nessy!

This is such a lovely medal as it has a dial on the back which you turn to see a different picture each day in the little window at the top, just like an Advent calendar. We also got a chocolate Advent calendar rather than the usual goody bag which was a nice touch. I gave mine to the lady in the horse feed shop as she's really helpful.

My favourite colour for the Dymchurch medal

So that's it. Marathon 110 completed which marks my 52nd marathon in 52 weeks and another challenge completed with still 6 months to go until my 60th birthday. I have no idea what to do next..............