Running for Beer, Treforest Gump, Shades, Dips and CarolR
How could we get under our time from 2004? We could spend less time at the feed stations. We could also walk less. We were surprised at how much we had walked last time and were determined not to repeat the experience. So firstly we had to become stronger, but also we would set off more slowly than last year.
The plans went well, and Trinity even won her age category at one of our warm-up races, the Halstead Marathon. But in the week preceding the event, taper madness set in and doubts surfaced. We had planned to run at about 10-minute miling, but I suddenly felt that wouldn’t give us time to walk the really steep bits and get within six hours. At almost the last moment we amended our optimum pace to 9:45 per mile. Our target was to beat our 2004 time. Anything else would be custard on the treacle sponge.
Race day dawned, and it was a perfect day for running. We gathered in the centre of Princetown village, all trying to keep warm but pleased to see old friends again. Soon it was almost 9.30 and as we lined up on the crossroads, the klaxon sounded and we were off, nervously, for 32 miles of Discovery.
The pace, of course, seemed easy, and there was plenty of chatter during the early miles. The 125 or so starters soon thinned out, and by the time we reached the first major climb, at about the 10K point, we had spread out even more.
Trin and I ran the first two 10Ks in around an hour each, and then the third one took longer. This was fine because two significant hills are part of this particular stretch. The challenge was to pick the pace back up again in the fourth 10K.
And that’s exactly what we did. We found we could accelerate a little. We also found that overall we felt good about the race, about ourselves, and about being alive. It was beginning to look as if our rudimentary training plan, and schedule, might be working.
As we approached 25 miles I was feeling great, but somehow knew it couldn’t last. We were walking up some of the steepest hills, but nothing like as many as we had in 2004. When we reached the top it was taking me a little bit longer each time to get going again, and almost imperceptibly, Trin pulled away from me.
Robtherunner, Lexi Tate
The marathon point was another huge landmark. My split time was 4:29. I didn’t have a clue how long it had taken me the previous year but I knew it was slower than that. And although I was slowing I still felt good. I got a second wind and as we turned onto the main road towards Postbridge, I was able to pick the pace up, and caught up with Trin, who was waiting for me at the drinks station.
Then disaster struck. I bent down to pick up a sponge and although I didn’t realise it at the time, that’s when the rot set in. The dreaded cramp started and would continue to torment me through the final five miles.
After Trin and I exchanged a few words about how we only had five miles to go and we had ages yet before we’d be over the previous year’s time, Trin started running again. I tried, but very soon I had cramp in both calfs and both thighs. I was in agony, but I pressed on.
All the while Trin was pulling away from me. I had a little bit of a fight for a place with MetroGnome but he was too strong for me and he too pulled away.
Then I began to feel the cold, and was grateful for the thermal shirt that I’d been carrying with me. I even put on my gloves for five minutes whilst I heated up again. At around 29 miles I had a third wind and seemed to be catching up with Trin once again.
In the last couple of miles there is still some climbing to do, and I soon slowed. My mind was working three ways: part of me was dreading moving because the cramp was coming and going. Part of me was thrilled knowing that I was going to whup my time from 2004, and nothing short of a thunderbolt was going to stop me. And another part of me was willing Trin forward to the finish, pleased that she hadn’t waited for me and hoping she would realise her potential on the day.