Another Phoenix running event, but this time at a new venue. I had already entered Top Gun, which I ran two days ago, when they announced their brand new location; Nonsuch Park. As this is my local parkrun it made sense that I would enter it, so another busy weekend for me. This was my 8th run with Phoenix running, 25th marathon and 29th qualifying event for 100 mc (including 3x100k and an Ironman). I’ve ran 63.5 miles this week, most of which has been over the last 3 days.
I started off early, because Rik (race director) asked if I would lead the front of the first lap. The usual route in Walton on Thames is an out and back lap along the river, it’s impossible to get lost. This route was a 5.3k loop, with some twists and turns. As I am familiar with the park, and usually am somewhere near the front, I guess it made sense that I would lead for the first lap. So first of all we completed one lap, marking the route, and allowing me to have a sense of the route to come.
Then it was time for me to get my PJs on. I was planning on running with no top to make it more authentic, but this is against UKA rules. We had the usual race briefing telling everyone the rules. 5.3k laps, do as many as you like in the 6 hours, and once you are done ring the bell and your done. You can do one lap, 4 is an official half marathon and 8 is a marathon. I always go for the full marathon and use it as a training run.
It turned into a really hot day, and my legs were noticeably tired from a marathon 2 days ago, and then doing the #Urbantri17 6k run twice yesterday. I knew I wasn’t going to be fast, but still hoped for a sub 4. I set off at the front and ensured I stayed out in front. I tried to ensure I was far enough in front to maintain a lead, but not too far that I would lose people. Keith Luxton pulled away from the rest of the field and joined me for the last mile or so of the first lap. He looked strong which is incredible as he ran a 16 hour 100 miles last week. When people think I run a lot, you should look around at the people who turn up to these races, it’s phenomenal. I comfortably got everyone around the first lap and then let Keith carry on and eased off slightly. I wasn’t going to be able to maintain that pace for much longer so preferred to pull back.
I still maintained top 2 for the second lap running with the lead woman. I was finding it very hard, and was struggling with my trousers. When we got to the end of the lap I stopped to take off the trousers, you will be pleased to know I had my shorts on underneath. I immediately felt the benefit of the cooling of my legs. A few people overtook me here and I started to slow. As I’ve said, my legs felt tired, I felt ok myself, but just lacked energy today. Training in tired legs is great for longer distances I am training for, but it is not worth pushing too much, as I want to enjoy it and not ruin the rest of my week by being to exhausted.
At half way I was at 1:48, so not doing to badly, but I knew this wasn’t going to last. The course was so beautiful and a welcome change from the back and forth of the normal route. It was a little lumpy, making it a more challenging course, but the mixed trail made it enjoyable. Some don’t like the out and back so this would suit better, I found it quieter and frankly like the out and back as you see everyone on the route often.
It was nice having my wife and kids waiting for me at the end of lap 5. I stopped for about 10 minutes for hugs, and I got the kids a cup of sweets each. Moments like these are special and this is a big bonus when you aren’t fixated on a time.
In my 6th lap I got lapped for the first time, by Keith. He was flying going really strong and led from start to finish. This was the point I was struggling most and continued to slow more often. I probably could have sped up, but really did not have the motivation or energy. I was just willing it to be over and saw it taking longer and longer.
It was never a question of whether I would finish, but I knew this wouldn’t be about the time now, it was just going to be a battle to the finish. I have to be honest, I wasn’t enjoying it at this point. And the final two laps were a combination of walking, shuffling, and eating lots of sweets and crisps. I decided to pick it up for the last few miles and I did have a bit of pace left, I just didn’t want it enough. I was happy enough with a sub 4:30 still.
Once again the medal was absolutely fantastic, and huge. With a choice of a blue or pink bed, so I went for the blue. Although I struggled it is great training for RTTS, and I think I will rest up most of this week with a half next weekend.
At the end I waited for a bit for the family and their reaction when they saw me was great. I have well and truly done enough for max points at Fitness Rewards this week, and will enjoy my rewards next week.