Wednesday, 19 September 2012

On the comeback trail....

....Farnham Pilgrims Marathon.

(Oh and no that isn`t me)

This one had been planned for a year, only because it meant breaking a 4 year streak of running in the Great North Run. This event was local, reportedly a tough off road organised by the local Rotary Club with lots of well supported water / feed stations. I was also looking forward to it as I early in the year I marshalled a race which was along the North Downs Way some of which we would cover in our route.

My race plan - was an estimated time of 4:45 to 5:15 hrs. I did wonder how I would get on from 20 miles onwards plus I did hear that the course had a harder back nine. I will say my choice of races this year has been good - mainly off-road & hilly stuff. My nutrition plan was simple - a gel every 5 miles, I was also using my hand held water bottle.

One of the main advantages (& disadvantages) of this one was that the start was only 15 mins away....this did meant I got there later than planned (09:15 for a 09:30 am kick off) & was a bit rushed. I saw a couple of folks I know - Tony (Cove Jogger), John (Ex Cove Jogger - who was aiming for another sub 4). I chatted to Ruth before & during the start. I also missed a few people I wanted to say hello to but I wasn`t going to go sprinting after them :-) Shortly before the start we all assembled & had the race briefing - basically we had to follow the Orange Spray - I did have my concerns beforehand about getting in some (unwanted) bonus miles on this but I didn`t need to worry as the marking of the course was one of the best I`ve seen - I would be really surprised if anyone got lost.

As we headed out of the start / finish field turned left and down - I was thinking hang about we need to go up here when we finish - gulp. The first couple of miles ticked away as I was chatting to Ruth, we saw Superman (100 Marathon Runner) helping Blind Paul along, which was amazing to see. I hope they got on alright with the uneven ground. Now I did set the garmin on virtual partner for 5.00 hrs pace - I had noticed I was a little quick but nothing to worry about. One thing I do like about running longer, slower runs is that the miles just seem to tick over.

We headed through Seale, along to Puttenham Golf Course - I did ask a golfer who was practising if he wanted to swop for 10 mins - he said no thanks. Down past these really nice cottages, down under the Guildford / Hog`s back road - I`ve never noticed those crosses before. The course was varied, we crossed a canal - just as two canal boats were trying to ram each other. I was mainly running by myself which was good - each time I tagged unto a group they stopped at one of the many, many feed stations along the way - the tables were nibbles were well stocked with different drinks, biscuits & sweets - all very nice but because I was using my own gels & carried water I just carried on. The views were simply magnificent, even spotted some buffalo & lamas, the cottages & houses were stunning - in Shalford there was a lovely sounding cottage - Lemon Bridge Cottage (didn`t see any lemons though) - 11:55 Miles just over 2 hours

At about mile 11, just before the sand, I caught up with a local legend Mike from Sandhurst - for the next few miles we leap frogged each other (well not actually leap frogged cos that would be silly in a marathon, half yes, full no). Special mention goes to the very vocal marshal up towards St Catherine`s Chapel - brilliant effort for us to get up the hill. Have not been up there for years. It also meant we were close to being halfway .

At about 15 miles Mike had caught me up again - must of been when I was tweeting (damn touch screen phones). We had to go up & around a Roman ruin - which caused some fun.

Almost three hours to the minute I was at the 16.2 mile point - so only 10 to go. Easy to break down - 2 x 5`s or 3 & a bit parkruns, I went for the parkruns. At about the 18 miles point we had joined up the outward course
- past the tea room. I recognised this point as this was `my marshalling point` on the Pilgrims Ultra in the snow in January - I hadn`t recognised it on the way out. Up under the Hogs back, towards Puttenham, past the cottages again & I saw a couple of old tractors - which was nice,

At about 20 miles I had my last gel - I did offer it to some very lazy & rather large cows - they were massive (I was here at 3 hrs 47 mins), At this point I hadn`t seen anyone for ages but kept following the orange dots & seeing the marshals. Mentally the views & scenery kept me going & busy - physically, despite the lumpy course I was doing OK, tight hamstring but was only expected really but I was still moving forward. At 21 / 22 miles was almost the nicest part of the course - it was a wooded area with small lakes, flat with a hint of downhill. Here I overtook an Aldershot , Farnham & District (adf) runner Matthew Brown - this does not happen too often when I`m running. Now to be fair I did say this to him & he replied back that he was really a 800 metre runner - so I guess this marathon was like a LEJOG attempt for him - respect . I was glad we didn`t have a sprint finish !!!

Just before 25 miles was a bit tough as we to head over a field almost in a straight line for a good half mile stretch, a couple of runners overtook, then headed back under tress - I bet in the January snow these North Downs looked good. For me the worse bit was running up the hill towards the end, past the car park, pasted the pub - seeing all the runners who had finished.

I got to the top & through into the Start / Finish field & through the finish. My comeback marathon completed - I wasn`t feeling all that bad, tired, tight legs but all in all not that bad - I think I got my nutrition & drinking about right. I collected my goody bag - T-shirt, Medal, Calendars, etc - fantastic value. I made my way back to the start - saw Tony`s car still there (or as I think it was a very similar car) so I got changed, freshen up & made my way back to the Start / Finish HQ. Either Tony was in the pub or I missed him but he wasn`t there. I had a cup of tea, had a look at the Great North results that had come through. I saw Ruth finish which was good & in time headed back to the car & home. Very handy being 15 minutes away.

Totally enjoyable event, tough but so enjoyable.

Oh the race was won by Holly Rush in an impressive time of 03:07:03. How good is running where you have a 2:37 lady burning up the trail & a 800 metre runner in the same race.

Results - Full & Half

My thoughts on the way home was if I can do 26.2 miles I know I can do 30 miles. Now if I can do 30 miles then I think I can do.......................................

(Score on the doors - 10 Marathons completed v 8 Ultras)

Next up - after a couple of easy weeks it`s OMG October starting off with the Julian Farrell 10Km on the 7th October & need to think about next year`s plans.

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