On Wednesday 23rd November 2016 I took on another 6 hour timed event organised by Phoenix Running, with an aim to complete another marathon. With my last event being on Saturday 19th November, this was my closest back to back marathon attempt (previously I’ve ran a couple a week apart).
On Saturday I ran well, not pushing to hard, maintaining a steady pace to leave energy for the next marathon, and I completed my Saturday marathon in 3:36. I managed to come second in the marathon distance out of a field of 120, something I was very happy with. Today the aim was to do a similar pace, and complete between 3:30 and 4 hours. There had been a lot of rain over the week, with flooding in areas near by. This meant the Thames path we were using had a few particularly muddy spots which would only get worse. I was able to see this on the way to the event as the walk from the station uses the event route. On the whole the ground wasn’t affected too badly. It was a very cold morning, but there was a clear sky with a bright and beautiful sunny morning. I wore a long sleeved top which I don’t usually do, but glad I did as it was very chilly, even after we got moving.
As always registration was nice and easy, and the RD was joined by some of his mates to help, who happen to be RD for some other similar events (Enigma/COD).
A hazard of being an Addicott is there is always a good chance I’m going to end up as No1, and today was such an occasion… it’s met with the usual jeers “no pressure”, “oh you must be fast”,”target on your back”… etc but as always this event starts with a great atmosphere. There is a real mix of people, from the hardcore marathon/ultra runners either in the 100mc or actively seeking it, to the medal whores here to do one or two laps and pick up an amazing medal. It’s so nice being able to run alongside such a diverse field, something you don’t get to do on a standard race.
We made our way to the start line and there were a dozen or so in fancy dress. We lined up, and we were off…
Once again I made an early lead, and led the first half a mile. I did this with an average 6:50 pace, I did this not with the intention of maintaining this pace, but to see who we had in the field and take a look at who would stay with me. At half a mile I slowed down a little to just over 7 min miles, still faster than my target pace but wanted to use this as a good varied training run. At this point one guy over took me and carried on going, throughout the race he pulled away further and further. I’m glad I did not try keeping up with him as he must have maintained a sub 3 pace throughout, much quicker than I was aiming for today.
Unlike Saturday there were not as many on my tail, so once this guy overtook me there was not really anyone else contending. One guy overtook me during the first lap, but I had heard him talking before the event about doing a half marathon, so knew he was going faster as he had a different target. And either way he started to slow, and I overtook him again before the 4th where he finished.
There were a lovely bunch of people there, and a lot of familiar faces. It was great to get a smile and hello (or come on number 1) every time we passed one another. There was only one guy who didn’t say hello, which was the leader. It’s a shame, but I think he was just in the zone. Every lap I stopped to take a cup of water and grab a handful of sweets from the pick and mix after collecting my band.
The muddy spots were messy, but I stopped caring after the first lap and just ran through, my brooks glycerin14 offered good grip and a trail shoe wouldn’t have been necessary. I maintained a good pace, under the 8 min/mile I wanted as a max speed, even with the stops at the check points. I felt really comfortable, which I was surprised with. Not only had I ran a fast marathon just 4 days before, I have had a busy month with the ballbuster the week before (which I would argue is harder than a standard marathon), I ran a half marathon at 1:30 the week before that, and the week before I ran an international marathon at 3:19. All of these events I met my targets, which have all been modest taking into consideration what I had to come.
My legs are tired and I questioned how hard this event would be, so when I got to half way and still comfortably running sub 8 min/miles I was pleasantly surprised.
I started to slow at this point, as I didn’t think I had it in me for a sub 3:30, and I knew I had work in the morning and didn’t want to be unable to move. There were less people on the paths today and most were very nice and supportive, although one charming woman said to her daughter “it’s not my problem, it’s theirs” as her dog darted in front of us, almost taking me out at the same time. I did not give her the satisfaction by saying anything. Some other dogs got in the way, this happens on a public path, but most of the other owners weren’t as “charming” as this woman.
As I was approaching the end of lap 6 I had overtaken a significant part of the remaining field. Most of those still running were going for the marathon or longer, regardless of their time. I worked out the closest person behind me was about 7 minutes behind, but the leader was getting close to lapping everyone, and I thought by the end of lap 6 he would have lapped everyone except for me. My aim at this point was to keep going fast enough to ensure he could not do that. That was the benefit of this course, with an out and back lapped route I would see him every 10-15 minutes to work out what pace I needed. Then something strange happened, I didn’t see him. I saw the guy behind me, and I was sure he would have over taken him by now, then I saw a few more… surely he hadn’t stopped after 20 miles? I asked at the check point, and it turns out he did, and he said it was always his intention. Clearly he is not 100mc hunting, more sub 3 hunting and this was certainly a good training run for him (it explains why he was going so fast and I’m glad I didn’t try keeping up with him).
Just like that I was the front runner, and by this point the guy in second place was a good 8 minutes away. I slowed down a little as I thought there was no chance he could catch me at this point. Then I started to work out my time and realised that with 9 min miles I could not only win, but also better my time from Saturday, a PB for me on this course. So I had a new target, I took it comfortably for the remaining couple of laps, enjoying the continuous shouts from fellow runners of “come on number 1”. I had never expected to come first, after the Saturday I had hoped for top 5 (depending on who turned up in the day), but I had spent the whole race telling people I may be number 1, but no way I would finish first. I had come second place on Saturday, and on the Wednesday I came one better, I won. It turns out that 117 turned up on the day, 6 went on to complete an ultra, 46 finished the marathon distance, and I was the fasted marathon runner with a time of 3:34:04, 2 minutes quicker than 4 days earlier.
I felt surprisingly good after this race and still had more in the tank (always a good way to finish in my opinion). One of the huge benefits when finishing this race is not the freddo frogs and sweets, but the fact you finish next to a pub, which is great for rehydration!!
I was pleased to get another 10 points for fitness rewards, but less pleased when my watch beeped at me whilst sat in the pub telling me to move (does it not know I just ran a marathon??)
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