One of the biggest weekends in my 24hr training plan & oddly one I was looking forward to - my first back to back marathon days - Sunday being the Neolithic Marathon & on Bank Holiday Monday the Milton Keynes Marathon….
The weekend started - as it normally does with a parkrun. Due to Frimley Lodge park being taken over for the weekend it meant a rare `away day` run - a few of us from Frimley went over to Crane Park parkrun. A good, flat 2 lap course set in a nice park in Twickenham / Richmond. As is my way I do like to put in a fast time on new course so I was pleased with a good time esp. after Friday night`s social event.
Results - LINK
The next day was the Neolithic Marathon. An event that catered for Marathon runners & Half Marathons runners & walkers also being able to choose the two different distances. When I entered I had booked the bus pass - which meant basically arriving at Stonehenge & taking me to the start at Avebury. I was booked on the 1st bus which meant a very early start to the day. I left my place just after 6 am, stopped for what now is a pre-race must - a large black coffee with enough sugar in it to hold the spoon upright !! We board the bus and I have to say the dogs which were on board were the most well behave dogs I`ve think I`ve seen - and that did include the dog licking his own refection in the window !! Anyway we get to the start - a place I`ve not been before - very nice - it has its own Stones. The time did soon disappear & the village became packed with runners - the walkers could go at any time. On the bus I saw running legend Rory Coleman & the very fast Jen - amazing endurance runners the pair of them - nether less to say I didn`t see Jen during the race at all - I did for the first 11 miles `play leap frog` with Rory.
My plan was to take it easy - no heroic at all - I had no real true gauge how I would feel in tomorrow`s run so it was a case walk where possible (& no I didn`t bring my cheating sticks). As it happens the 1st half of the course is where the hills are esp. the one up to mile 4 & the stepper hill at 11.5M. I just used these to walk up & tweet from. I had run the half marathon in 2010 so when we came across that start line (i.e. the last 13.1M) the course was a bit familiar. Almost as soon as we started (10.30am) the sun had broken through the clouds & so by half way it had got very warm - luckily I had brought my hand held water bottles & I was testing out my new sun cap (the `French Foreign Legion` style hat). I do have to say the 2nd half of the race is the most scenic - wide open stony trails with brilliant views across the plains - it was so nice to run along. By this stage I did take the approach of running / walking strategy esp. on the inclines & I had now dropped a NUNN tablet in my water (this did make a nice change to plain water & the taste of gels which I was taking one every 5 miles & I made sure I was drinking a bit more than normal).
Towards the end - around mile 20 - I thought it would be nice to get a sub 4:30 but I could see I wasn`t just quick enough - no way was I going to smash the final few miles to get that target so I settled for a time of my PB plus no more than an hour (so 4:39:26).
As it happened I did out sprint a couple of runners and finished with a time of 4:33:24.
Once I finished I almost dashed to the car to freshen up, get on my recovery tights & grab some money as I wanted as much food & drink as possible - I don`t think I`ve eaten so much after a race. It did go down very nicely.
The next morning I awoke really early - 4.30am or something - more coffee :-) My legs were not that bad - yes I could tell they had just done a long run but surprising good - I slept in my recovery tights - it is a good job I have 4 pairs of these !!!
I got to the race (Stadium) & dropped my bag off - I straight away I bumped into Foxy & he asked what the plan was….it was another 4:30 ain (basically it`s 10 minute milling so very easy on the brain). He said I needed Rosemary the 4:30 pacer - perfect. I made my way to the start line - packed with 3,000or so runners. I saw Chris & it was nice to catch up with a bit with him. We did start the race together but after about a mile he pushed on - not surprising. At least he got a PB.
Just before the second mile I joined the back of the 4:30 bus - Rosemary was leading the way. I saw Plodding Hippo (Ruth) and wished her Happy Birthday - who does a marathon on their birthday ;-) I do have to say running with a really good pacer definitely took the pressure off - it`s like riding on the back of a tandem bike - putting in the same effort but not worrying about steering, braking - so easy. We were chatting, grabbing water from the many stations and feeding them into the runners in the middle of the pack. Cheering when we hit another mile bang on pace (see the splits below). She did a brilliant job. We did halfway in 2:14:xx.
At around mile 18 the course got a bit narrow so I pushed on in front of the pack - thinking if I did slow down then I could re-join the pack. As it happens I felt good - but making sure I didn`t over cook it & making sure I stuck to my gel & drink plan. The last thing I wanted was cramp or pick up an injury. By mile 23 I took my first walking break - it was strange that the steeper inclines came towards the back end of course inc a 1/4 of mile incline at mile 24 - which felt a lot longer. I walked up this one.
As we entered the last mile I thought it would be good to pick the pace up - I did actually feel strong. We went over the footbridge and along the foot path where we could see the Stadium looming down on us - great. I could even see the gantry so I picked the pace up even more… …..this however was a bit of a mistake……
This `finishing` gantry was not the finishing gantry but in fact was a gantry to indicate the entrance of the stadium…opps. I still had to run down into the stadium AND along the whole length of the pitch AND across the width of the pitch AND back up the far side of the pitch AND half way across the remaining width to the actual finishing gantry - What a Muppet - I was knackered !!!
I have to say the Milton Keynes marathon is a fantastic event.
I stopped the Garmin - really pleased with the time - 04:22:48 (a combined time of 8:56:19)
Splits - 9:26, 9:53, 10:06, 10:03, 10:00, 10:05, 10:10, 10:07, 10:18, 10:12, 10:06, 10:09, 10:02, 10:17, 10:11, 10:08, 10:22, 10:10, 9:56, 10:08, 9:36, 9:33, 10:38, 9:37, 10:57, 8:30, 1:55 (0.25@ 7:39)Garmin -
What I learnt here is that anything is possible if you are open to it - Don`t say no I can`t before you even attempedt it – BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.
By The Way - it was double the fun :-) Now what comes after two……….
Next up - after a bit of unplanned restful weeks one of my favourite events - the Hook 10 .
Eeeekkk I`m running out of races before my Endure 24 one - only in 3 weeks or so now…
Charity Page - LINK