Sunday, 22 May 2011

And then there was one... event left to blog about, and that's not till September.  But that means that another one has been ticked off - the marathon, which is a big, big relief, as it's the one that I would have predicted at the outset was going to be the most difficult.

The basic facts are these:  yesterday I ran the White Peak Marathon, organised by Matlock Athletics Club.  It runs from Fenny Bentley near Ashbourne up the Tissington Trail and then down the High Peak Trail to Cromford Meadows near Matlock.  I finished the course in 3 hours 50 mins, 76th out of 198 finishers.  (The fastest runner did it in 2 hrs 58, the slowest in 5 hrs 25.  That gives you some idea that it's a pretty slow course, primarily because a) almost none of it is flat, as the first 18 miles are very progressively uphill, and then there's three massive descents after 21 miles, and b) it was windy yesterday.  I think it probably explains too why I was 5 mins outside of my target time of 3 hrs 45).
The other fact is this, and excuse the shouting:  IT HURT! 

In more detail: quite unusually for a marathon I think, runners were required to register at Race HQ, and were then bussed to the race start some distance away.  Whether or not that was the reason for the comparatively late start of 11 am I don't know, but it certainly meant more reasonable getting-up and departure times than I'm used to on event days.  After the obligatory porridge I was very kindly driven across to Matlock by Andy, my nominated supporter of the day, and ideal candidate for the role with six marathons under his belt.  Even an hour's worth of prog rock (Genesis live album c. 1977, couldn't tell you the title) couldn't spoil the fantastic countryside and sunshine on the way across. In fact, truth to tell, it enhanced it.  Oh God.

Registration was a cursory affair, warm up even more so, coach was stuffy and cramped, portaloos were as portaloos are.  Delightful.  After some megaphone instructions that were totally inaudible to all but the front two rows, we were under way at 11.03 (v important to note in case the timekeepers tried to claim an 11-on-the-dot start).  The first 10 miles or so passed pretty much in a haze; there were plenty of runners around me, the countryside was reasonably engaging, and nothing much was hurting.

The recently-acquired inner right knee random pain started shortly after 10 miles, so a couple of Voltarol pills were popped.  Apart from the slightly bizarre experience of having to go up a trail for half a mile after a turn-off point to come directly back down it again to make up the full distance (how Mendip Rouleur would have hated that), it was then all quiet again till about 16 miles, when both knees began to make their presence felt.  Another couple of Voltarols in blatant disregard for the dosage instructions (as there might have been...ahem....another couple popped on the coach too), and the discomfort was manageable.

It was noticeable that all chat between those running together, and who had apparently been having some full-on debates about life, the universe and everything, stopped abruptly at 18 miles.  It seems that even for seasoned runners, that's about the mark when you have to retreat into yourself and just focus on blanking out the discomfort.  My sterling supporter was there to greet me just after the water stop at 19 miles, and a very welcome sight that was too, though whether his pictures of me at that point will be as welcome to their viewers is debateable.  I was beginning to cramp at this point, and frankly had no idea how I was going to get through the next 7 miles.

And do you know what?  I still don't.  The knees were going crazy, my quads were sore as hell, and my toes, calves and shins would take it in turn to cramp up momentarily.  I had to walk a couple of times, but somehow the head coaxed the legs into running again.  The downhill sections at miles 21, 22 and 24 were sheer torture.  I honestly think I'd rather have been going uphill at that point.  Anyway, the last mile and a half were along a canal towpath, and then, really abruptly, turned back into Cromford Meadows for a final downhill 50 yards, to hit the fabuluous finish line, complete with cowbells and whistles, Andy, and my sister Claire who'd turned up to see me finish.  Thanks to both of them - it's really great to have people to chunter on to when you cross the line.

I actually didn't feel too bad after I finished.  I didn't sit down, had a bit of walk, and supped from my White Peak Marathon commemorative mug, awarded in lieu of a medal.  Useful and attractive (IMHO).  Ticks all the William Morris boxes, though that opinion doesn't appear to be shared by the good lady wife.  I fear it might meet with an "accident" before the month is out.

And now?  Well, I've been on some running websites today, and apparently the day after a marathon it's common to be depressed, stiff and have food cravings.  Two out of three then.  I suspect the depression's holding off till tomorrow morning, but right now fish 'n' chips would go down a treat.  Got to put up with roast chicken and trimmings instead.  :-(  And as for the stiffness, oh yes.  No sniggering at the back - it's in my legs.  Thighs and knees mainly.  Ho hum, it's the price you pay I guess.

To summarise the event, I'd confirm what the runners' forums say, viz. this is a runners' marathon (ie great scenery, not too many cheering crowds, no-one dressed as Elvis or a funky chicken), it's really well organised, and it's a pretty tough course.   Personally, I'm just delighted to be able to say "I've run a marathon", and though, of course, it's way too early to be making predictions for the future, my head's where it was last Sunday - running is fun, and I'd like to keep doing it, but marathon's aren't fun, and I don't feel as though I've been bitten by that particular bug.  But you know, when the aches and pains have worn off, who's to say that little voice won't start up...."you could do 3 hrs 30, couldn't you?"......

But come what may, that's for the future.  Six weeks today I depart these shores to go and watch the Tour de France, and over the week we'll be riding the best part of 200 miles to the stage starts and finishes, so it's time to get in shape for that.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Tweets by @skinsalive