The Spooky Halloween Challenge & Pumpkin Marathon
As part of my training for LEJOG next spring, I wanted to make sure I was comfortable in running for 50 miles+ in a day. These marathons came up, and I thought “perfect!”, a simple course with the emphasis on running steady and consistently.
I’d weighed it up pretty quickly, exactly how to play this one; the course wasn’t completely flat, it had a couple a couple of vague hills within the 1km laps. It didn’t take a genius to work out that if I played it right, and worked on 9 minute miles, I could finish both of them in around 4 hours (hopefully) relatively comfortably… Good plan Daniel; you’ve really excelled yourself once again in both sensibility, and maths.
This might be a good time to bring up that these were fancy dress marathons. There were some amazing costumes; people running around as witches, vampires, zombies and Michael Jackson (don’t ask) as well as those not in costume, probably in an effort to run quickly or something… I ran as Superman, such was my ego this day.
Now, if any of you are wondering if running in a cape is in any way a hindrance to running? I can tell you happily and for free, that it is not. In fact, it’s awesome! I ran free as the wind for 13 miles; I didn’t even notice the hills in the course and got loads of fantastic support/heckles. It was at around this point that I realised that I had inadvertently been running near 7 minute miles and was up near the front. Woops.
Now, given this information, still in a comfort zone; the sensible person would ease off a bit and conserve some energy for the afternoon’s marathon. I am not a sensible person. I’m Superman.
Using the power of the sun (and the occasional 9bar), I flew to prosperity in a quicker than intended time of 3:29.
Right! Time to get recovering! Using all my experience and skills, I began an epic sit down. (I couldn’t really think of anything else)…
During the break, I spoke to a number of amazing runners. It doesn’t matter how good, and how experienced you think you are; you go to these events and find people better than you. I’d be more bitter about this, if they weren’t all such brilliant guys. I feel utterly inspired by everyone I spoke to, and fuelled with ideas for future races for myself.
4pm, and time for marathon 2 of 2. The course was the same, so there were no issues there; but now it was dark. The course was decorated pleasantly with pumpkins, glow sticks and the likes for a pleasant atmosphere. I’ve never done a race quite like this one before.
I ran the first 10 miles or so at a reasonable pace, before the excessive effort from the earlier race hit me literally like a tonne of kryptonite.
All of a sudden those hills I wasn’t noticing earlier were becoming abundantly clear. In a race like this one, which was 31 laps long, you try very hard to not look too frequently how many you have to go, but you can’t help it and it becomes exponentially more depressing every time.
The laps were dropping slowly and one by one (as 2 at a time I quickly calculated was impossible… Sigh). To make matters worse, a repetitive strain had developed nicely over my left ankle; so just in case the lethargy wasn’t enough, let’s add some pain into the mix.
The support I got from the spectators, marshals and other volunteers was nothing short of brilliant and I’m not sure I’d have made it to the end if it wasn’t for all of them. Made it I did though, in an agonising time of 4 and 3 quarter hours. So what have I learnt from this?
A multitude of things; I learnt not to let pride dictate your pace when faced with 52 miles in 1 day (even if you are Superman). Nutritionally, I learnt that the sponsors 9bar are amazing for these sort of days, I highly recommend! I learnt that GPS is not always to be taken as gospel, particularly when trees have any say in it, additionally, capes make you run faster, FACT and above all else I have learnt that there are some awesome runners out there and I’m fully inspired to try harder and catch up to a little more next year.
Nursing a poorly ankle still today, but will be back out running the Peak District trails in a couple of days.