A Friday morning, what better time to run a marathon. I got a Facebook time hop in the morning that reminded me that two years ago I was running my 9th marathon. Back then I had been running a marathon as a main event for the year, and think the most I had run in a year was three. Since then I have started pacing marathons, something I love doing. I also stumbled across Phoenix running events, which are friendly low key events that you can run anything from 5k (1 lap) up to 6 hours of running. I always run 8 laps which is an official marathon distance. I take part in these as a gentle training run. I never used to find time for a long training run, but I find that these are great motivators to get out, and once started I will always do the marathon.
A few stats for you. This was my 31st Marathon. I had thought this would have been my 10th with Phoenix Running, but I added a last minute marathon a few weeks ago, meaning this was my 11th. I had these bronze wings waiting for me as a gift for completing 10 Phoenix events. Although this was my 31st marathon I have done 37 qualifying events for 100 marathon club (including ultra and Ironman).
The race started at 09:30, but I had a 06:00 start, as Rik asked if I could help mark the course. Rik picked me up, and by 06:30 we were walking the 5k route in the pitch black. The stars were so clear, away from the bright lights. We had some interesting moments with the early dog walkers. By the time we had completed the lap it had become misty and the sun had risen. It was a beautiful morning, we put the tent up and then people started to arrive, I had already done 8k steps.
There were lots of familiar faces, and it was good catching up with some before that start. We then had some announcements, for three who had ran 100 marathons in 100 weeks, and Jacqueline and Camilla who were setting a Guiness World Record for the first mother and daughter to run 100 marathons together.
The course is a lap, so not as straightforward as the out and back the Thames path usually offers. Rik had asked for me to lead the first lap. This is never a drama, as I can ran as fast as needed to ensure I’m at the front for the first lap, but knew that I would not be sustaining the Pace. I set off at around 7:30 min miles and ensured I wasn’t too far ahead. I had hoped to ease back and run with Ronan for a few laps, but another guy started to push the pace with me. I pushed to ensure I was running alongside him, and giving him the heads up when we were approaching a turn. This meant I went a little faster than I would have, and pulled away from Ronan. When we got to the end of lap one I stopped to grab some sweets and water. I wanted to ease back a little so let the front runners pull ahead. I knew straight away this wasn’t going to be a fast one for me.
I eased up and just took the event in my stride, I had originally planned to run between 3:30 and 4 hours, but that wasn’t to be today. On the second lap I was still in the top 5 and at one point I watched the lead lady carry on running past the turn point. I shouted at her but she had her headphones in, and couldn’t hear me. So I sprinted off past the turn to catch her up and tap her on the shoulder to bring her back on course. I’m not sure if it was here, or later on the trail, but I picked up a bit of a niggle in my right knee. It’s nothing too serious, but I didn’t want to push myself, as it was painful.
The course is probably about a third pavement, a third trail and a third on grass. Some of the grass was slippery and muddy and this aggravated my knee. At about 18 miles I was still feeling ok, but had slowed a little.
When I got to about 20-21 I walked for a little bit and at this stage had decided I would just be getting through, there was no point in turning my niggle into an injury. As I slowed some familiar faces overtook me, but it didn’t really bother me, still a lovely morning to run. In the end I finished in 7th position for the marathon in a time of 04:14:44. Not a sub 4, but a good little training run.
Of all the courses Phoenix Running have to offer this must be one of the most beautiful. It’s not the easiest, but this is mainly because of the grass sections which are slippery. If I hadn’t worn the smoothest of running trainers it might have been a little easier. I finished smiling with the 11th chunk of metal from Rik, and another successful training run. As the theme of the run goes… I’ll be back…
Only a few weeks left to vote for the Running Awards. My little blog has been nominated and I would love to get to the shortlist. For this to happen I need your votes please. It really doesn’t take long, and it’s one vote per person. Just click HERE go to blog and vote for “pick up the Pace paul”.