Monday, January 11, 2016

Number 1

Yesterday was my first marathon of the year, or rather ultra-marathon (this is a term used for long distance runs longer than the standard 26.2 miles). It was another Saxon, Vikings and Normans event and was held at Fowlmead country park which I've visited many times now.

The weather had been vile all week with strong winds and lots of rain causing flooding all over the place so I was prepared to get rather wet!

Ironically, the day before had been reasonably fine for those running on Saturday with only a bit of rain towards mid afternoon. However, the rain continued throughout the night and when I got up at silly o'clock on Sunday I knew I should leave extra time for my journey so I gave myself an extra hour for travelling and thank goodness I did as here's what I encountered - a fallen tree blocking one of the small lanes which resulted in a 3 mile detour, torrential rain and some flooding on the M20 but thankfully not too much traffic around (I'd already altered my route as I knew that some of the lanes I usually use had been closed due to flooding), a diversion due to flooding which sent me into an area I didn't know very well which resulted in me encountering the aftermath of an accident and being sent even further off route.

By this stage I was somewhat unsure how to get back to where I needed to be so tried phoning Traviss (the Race Director) for assistance but his phone went to voicemail so I phoned home to hear a friendly voice!  Mike soothed my nerves successfully and after studying my map I soon found the best route and arrived just as Traviss was doing the pre-race briefing. My usual journey of 1.5 hours had taken 2.5 hours.

Then of course I had to register and collect my race number and get my kit together. I hate being late for anything and I got into a bit of a panic trying, and failing, to get my contact lenses in so had to give myself a talking to! Once I'd realised there was no rush as it's a 'challenge' event (run any distance you like within a set time limit) I calmed down and just set off on my own with no runners in sight. I soon felt better when I caught up with some of the back-of-pack runners and then it was just a case of getting on with the job in hand.

I've never had a number 1 before! Perfect 'cos it was my first ultra marathon of the year and my 61st marathon

I can't go any further without mentioning the weather; it was VILE to begin with. There was a strong wind, everywhere was sodden, the gravel path had huge puddles in places and the grass had turned to mud where people had gone around the edges of the puddles and turned it into a quagmire. At first it didn't rain for a while, then it did, then the wind abated (which was a relief), then the rain stopped for a while, then the wind came back even colder than before, then it rained. I think that's quite an accurate summary of the day!

As a result I just concentrated on getting round and didn't stop to take any photos so I'll have to address that on my next visit in a few weeks.

The trail was pretty claggy and as we were running through puddles it was inevitable that water and some of the gravel got into my shoes. At one stage I stopped to take my right shoe and sock off as I could feel something digging into my foot. I banged my shoe on the ground and some bits came out but it wasn't until I'd finished that I found one piece had embedded itself into the inner sole and had dug a groove into my poor foot.

There were lots of people I knew there so there was plenty of chatter and hugs on the way round. I'd decided I was going to do 1 more lap after the marathon distance to take me to 30.5 miles and I was lucky to have the company of James for the last 2 laps which really helped the miles pass quickly. We finished in 6:35:10 and I felt fine.

Another medal for my collection - note the 'ultra' badge

I was also presented with this lovely wall plaque for having completed 500 miles at SVN events. Traviss and Rachel really know how to look after us!

The sky had started to turn black as I got back to my car and I just managed to clean myself up a bit (thank goodness for wet wipes!) before the heavens opened and the rain came down. I had the foresight to pack a change of clothing and it was lovely to peel off my wet kit and snuggle into nice dry clothes.

My journey home was not as long but the conditions were vile and I was very glad to arrive home safely to be greeted by Mike. He had been an absolute star and had fed the horses and Tilly so I didn't have to worry about them. It was wonderful to soak in a lovely warm bath and scrub the rest of the muck off my feet:

This was as clean as I could get them using wet wipes!

The state of my poor shoes before cleaning - as the park is on the site of an old coalmine there is lots of coaldust in the mud, hence the black mud!

So that's marathon number 61 done and dusted. The next one is this coming weekend and promises to be a bit of a mudfest!

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