Thursday, 31 May 2012

A year gone & a lovely *sunny* weekend in the Lakes...

I had an absolutely brilliant weekend in the Lake District.  Was it weird being back and not running on all the other days and just doing the ‘one lap’ of the lake? Yep, most definitely. It was really fun supporting and cheering on this year’s class of 10in10’ers, however. Supporting others at races when I’m not actually running myself isn’t something that I get to do an awful lot of. And I guess I kind of like that, because I really enjoy the running and so I’m not normally around a race unless I’m running. It was really fun to drive around (if not a bit nauseating…gosh, that marathon course is hilly) and support the runners and cheer them on past Check Points and probably annoy them hehe.

It was strange to see them give it their all and so focused and know that a year ago exactly I had been right where they now were. Yet I swear sometimes it feels like I never really did it, that someone must have waved a magic wand and abracadabra’d me around that lake ten days in a row. I would love to give this challenge another go someday, when I’m richer and faster. It really does get into your soul and a part of you truly does remain there. So, Saturday for me  was a lovely day to be back and a proud day to see so many brilliant runners  that I know  complete  the final tough bit on route to completing this incredible challenge. Day ten, well, that’s just a lap of honour ;-)

Sunday started as an absolutely beautiful and sunny day and remained so. It is truly magical to see such gleaming sunshine in the heart of the Lakes. Last year’s Day 10 and marathon day was plagued by torrential downpours and freezing cold wind. This year was picturesque and there seemed to be many more marathon runners out in force in the glorious weather. This was a great sight to behold, because every long distance runner should get a chance to experience this race. It is so well organised and the scenic backdrop is breathtaking and even more inspiring in the sunlight.

As we pulled up to the marathon and parked the car we were greeted by the race director of the Farnham Pilgrim Marathon which takes place along the North Downs Way. This was actually really spooky as he told us that he wasn’t about the practicalities of really handing out flyers for a marathons 300 miles way from where is actually was. So I told him I had done it last year and that awful lots of runners will travel great distances to do a good race and that indeed, his was up there. Then, I had a look at a flyer and weirdly there was a picture of me in it! It was such a weird conscience. So, I had my photo taken with him :)

After seeing the 10 in 10 runners off at 9.30am and getting a bit emotional as I again thought back to last year, we had an hour to chill out before the main marathon. I love the fact that this race is started by a band of drummers leading you down to the start. It always makes me giggle as it sounds like some sort of ceremonial death march. Or like war in beckoning.  It has an air of impending doom and excitement about it simultaneously. Well, I guess those hills aren’t always easy, so that’s the doom bit right there. However it wouldn’t be the lake without a few hills thrown in there.

I was really intrigued as to how this marathon would feel and what emotions it might bring out in me. I had been emotional on the Saturday and my mind had been occupied almost the entire previous 9 days that this year’s TIT’s were out there. It’s strange what multiple marathon running can do to you. You find yourself saying to people ‘I’m only doing the one this time’. When did doing the one marathon in a weekend become ‘ONLY’ the one? But you quickly forget the pain of the previous big challenge and in comparison, doing the one marathon sounds minuscule in comparison. However as soon as I was approached ‘Devils Gallop’ at approx mile 7/8 I remembered why this course can be tricky and I wondered how on earth I had managed to drag myself around it ten times in as many days.

Surprisingly I was running pretty well for me.  I reached ‘Penis Tree’ road and had a giggle whilst I told other runners about how this road always makes me laugh. I must have looked like a nutter. I must have looked even more of a nutter at around mile 16/17 when approaching ‘Nappy Mountain’, where I walked for a bit and felt quite tearful talking to a fellow runner who had recognised me from last year’s 10in10. It all brought back so many memories and I felt quite reflective. Actually, the bit I really don’t like which Is Newby Bridge – for some odd reason – came and went quite quickly. Okay, the busy road bit after Newby Bridge took a little longer to go and that bit is always a little tricky, but it wasn’t as bad as I have felt it to be there in the past.

Weather-wise it was beautifully sunny day and really quite warm. I was a little too toasty in places and was a little too much like a ready salted crisp. Then, at some points as we neared the lake again the air began to cool with a slight breeze. There wasn’t a hugely noticeable breeze but it was enough to cool the sweat on my skin and give me goose bumps that left me feeling a bit disorientated. 

I fuelled myself with gels and Sports (jelly) Beans during the run and I felt this worked well and was convenient. Normally, I don’t love to take gels as they can be sickly, but they worked just fine on Sunday and they were SIS ones – the least sickly ones, so they’re always pretty much okay for me to get down.
After a largely great run interspersed with some moments of sheer mental torture from memories of this route, I crossed the finish line in high spirits and comfortably under 5hours. I was really happy with this when I think of the emotions involved, the heat, the hills, the walking bits, the toothache…. I crossed the line and had a big cry. It was happy ‘glad to be back’, ‘proud of all the new TIT’s’ and emotional cry. I knew I’d have those moments, but overall it was a good run. It was so lovely to see all these amazing people join the 10in10 club and share in their day. I had a beer and cheered as they had their presentation. 

Instead of the beer following the race I maybe (definitely) should have eaten something immediately afterwards. I was hungry, but there was just so much going on that I just wanted to stay and chat to everyone. I wish I’d have eaten. Upon leaving this car park the road sign directed us left out of the driveway and back onto the marathons route up to Newby Bridge…the first 12ish miles of the course. This is blummin’ hilly to drive in the car and I should know that after having run the route that very day. Anyway, I suddenly felt very sick and to cut a long story short I had to stop the car where I got out and was really quite sick by the side of the road. Fortunately I didn’t have much to bring up, but then again if I had eaten then I maybe wouldn’t have been sick? I think the heat most definitely contributed to this puking episode. I have felt sick before after a marathon, but I have never actually been physically sick. I did feel better afterwards and proceeded to stuff my face with some much needed food on route back home.

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