Yes I know I was doing four in four days but this had some spare places so I booked it up late Saturday night and managed to get the last space.
The race medal is all about the film The Breakfast Club from 1985 but that bore no relation to the race or anything really. It’s a cool medal though.
Now as it was the day after Valentine’s Day I hadn’t prepared any post run sweet potato and beetroot that day as my wife and I went out for a meal so I was not as prepared as I should or could have been. Also I had to leave at 6:30am so got up at 5:30, way earlier than the days before.
The time duly arrived and after the usual Greek yoghurt breakfast I set off at 6:25am. Now the journey was to Walton on Thames about 70 miles away and it said 1 hour 57 on my iPhone Google map.
Traffic was atrocious on the M25 (major UK motorway) so much so I turned off and found a “quicker” route and managed to get there in 2 hours and 8 minutes. I really don’t like driving for that long but arrived all safe and sound.
Picked up my bib (105), introduced myself to the RD Rik as we’d conversed via email but never met and then said hello to some of the people I knew including three people who’d been running with me most of the last 4 days! Nutters.
Went to sit in my car after an embarrassing ten mins queuing in the loo making small talk outside the cubicle and the “I’m not really having a number two right after you ” look.
In the car I drank this
9:15 arrived and race brief happened and we learned that over 40% of us were Phoenix race virgins so that’s encouraging. One person on their first marathon which brought a round of applause. It was a 3 min walk to the start so we trundled off and started- slowly.
You can see from my face (white cap) that my legs were not feeling great. In fact they were feeling as if they had been smashed into by a large truck. I knew it was going to be a long day…
The course was simple, 1.6 miles on the Thames Path, turnaround and come back to the base camp. Eight times for a marathon. The hardest bit was a little pedestrian bridge with about 20ft of elevation, oh and there were a few muddy puddles.
I set off with a decent pace hoping to stay nice and steady at around 9:30 pace for a 4:15- 4:30 finish.
This target I did achieve but not with any sort of pride more a “grind it out and hope for the best” run today. My legs felt like hollow stumps of lead, no spring, no bounce – just “thud thud thud.”The first lap took me 30 mins and I knew that was my best lap. The only thing to do was get my head down, avoid the puddles of mud, ignore the pedestrian bridge and get it done.
So I did.
I amused myself by having a sort of thud-fest with a bloke who I beat yesterday on the last lap, he was determined to not get beat again today, all the way to the final lap but he started walking on lap five and you know it’s trouble then, for him, and opportunity for me. Now I had nothing left in me for a fight but neither did he so I stuck to whatever my fastest pace was at the moment and never gave in, hoping I had more than he did and I was right. He’s a nice bloke though and I only beat him because he started walking and I need to be half dead or on mile 75 before I walk.
It started raining on the last lap too so that made it all the more fun.
Right at the final turnaround point I had not looked behind me in case my two overtaken stragglers had mustered up some energy to get closer to me but when I turned they were at least 30 seconds to a minute away and I felt a little safer.
Not too safe, so I gathered all my energy for a final effort for the 1.6 mile journey home. I felt like I was running like the wind but in actual fact I was just under a 10 minute mile. Goes a lot to say about perceived effort and actual effort! My final push was when I looked at my watch and saw I had two minutes to sneak in a sub 4:30 (I was grasping at straws now) so I powered forward relentlessly and managed to pick off one last person right about 100m from the finish and got a 4:29:36 finish.
Back at the car I had no more sweet potato and beetroot, I had a 140g pork and stilton pie which lasted about 5 seconds as I pulled out of the car park on my way home.
I got home via the supermarket and made myself a massive turmeric and chilli stilton pizza then went to bed at 8:30pm!
In a day or so I’ll finish this tale of five marathons in five days as it’s not over yet as I lie on the sofa full of more pizza and chocolate and no energy for a whole day.
The things we learn! Until then I’ve got this weekend off running though I’m working and then two road marathons on 25th and 26th Feb.
Keep running out there.