On the day though, the mud at Shorne Woods, that caused me to bail out after 3 laps earlier this year, was kinder to us. It was still there as the weather had been vile for several days beforehand but was nothing like as bad as before. I had, however, taken the precaution of packing my walking poles which turned out to be a wise decision as they helped me stay upright throughout.
During my journey there it rained but by the time I'd prepared myself and walked to the start the sun was peeping out and stayed with us for most of the day, except for a few short and very light showers.
The start time of 9:30am was later than I prefer as I'm an early morning runner but the good news was that Traviss had extended to cut-off time to 8 hours as several people were very nearly timed-out at the last event. This was very good news for me as I knew it was going to be muddy and it meant I could walk any of the scarily slippery bits (2 of which caused me to fall last time).
|There were lots of familiar faces in the crowd at the briefing (the 3 people in that photo were all at recent events with me)|
Mike had given me strict instructions to "be sensible" and pull out of it was dangerous and I risked picking up an injury at this stage in my marathoning plan. He said later that he worried all the time even though I'd tried to re-assure him by saying that I would not continue if I was worried about conditions underfoot. Poor love; it's hard being support crew!
Each loop was just under 3 miles and so I had to complete 9 laps for marathon distance. I gave myself a target of 7 hours or thereabouts so I had no need to rush and risk a fall. I chatted with lots of people en-route and was joined by James for most of my last lap (although he was heading out for his 13th lap as I left!).
Most of my photos were taken on my final lap and hopefully give a feel for the conditions:
|A lovely dry path heading downhill but don't be fooled as it lead to.....|
|...the slippery slope!|
|Nowhere near as bad as last time though|
|Ironically I've just realised that I didn't take a photos of the really slippery sections where I fell over last time and lots of people struggled this time!|
|There were lots of skidmarks and I found my poles invaluable!|
|The bright yellow flowers are Hawkbit and they really shone in the grey light|
|This slight slope downwards was OK as it was gravelling rather than muddy|
|This aged Sweet Chestnut tree seemed to be clinging on to life with just one side in leaf|
|Such a beautiful, gnarled trunk|
|More nice dry gravel trail|
|The fairy/elf ring with woodland creatures|
|The bottom of Cardiac Hill (great name but not quite as bad as its name suggests!).|
|Up we go then......|
|It's one of those climbs that's OK to start with but becomes more and more mountainous in relation to the number of laps you've done!|
|This sculpture was designed as a reminder of the site's history - many prehistoric artefacts, inlcuding flint tools, have been found there and it has been designated a Site of Scientific Interest|
|This was the easiest bit of the route to run on as it was nice flat grass for a couple of 100 metres!|
|My favourite tree of the day - a magnificent Sweet Chestnut|
|I fell in love with its multi-stemmed trunk|
|I loved the shape of the coppiced trees in this section. The dappled light they created was just beautiful.|
At the finish I was presented with my beautiful medal and I had a jolly good chat with Traviss and Rachel about when and where my 100th marathon would be. I really wanted it to be at one of their events but I'd seen that someone else had earmarked the one I wanted as their own celebration. However, Traviss has subsequently had a word with the person concerned and it's been decided that we will celebrate together which is very generous of him. I'm not going to announce the details yet as I don't want to jinx it so you'll have to wait and see.......
As I headed back to my car I phoned Mike and he was very relieved to hear I was still in one piece! I then had an attack of the munchies and delved into my goody bag to find a bag of crisps which I set about demolishing as I walked along. After a few minutes I realised I was just following the man in front of me without paying any attention where I was.
Then the man turned and asked me if we were going in the right direction and I had no idea! Between us we managed to find our way back to the car park but en-route we discovered this interesting sculpture entitled "Spider Tickles Worm" by local artist and sculptor Steve Portchmouth. It was made from bits and pieces of machinery found on the site which used to be a clay pit and quarry.
I've got a very busy week ahead as the judging for Village in Bloom takes place and there's such a lot to do beforehand. Sadly, all the wildflowers we planted, including lots of poppies to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, have been strimmed and completely destroyed and a local resident took it upon himself to strim the verge opposite his house and has cut down all the wildflowers there which were looking fabulous yesterday. Hey ho, plan C it is then (no, I've no idea what plan C is yet!!!).
Next weekend sees me take on one of the toughest marathons around these parts, the North Downs marathon which people tell me is much harder than Beachy Head. Gulp!
ps, I nearly forgot an article in the latest issue of Women's Running magazine which my friend spotted and posted on my Facebook page - it was entitled 'Britain's Sunniest Runners' and was penned by the lovely Lisa Jackson who wrote 'Your Pace or Mine?'. She has often commented that I'm always smiling and was interested in how I stay focussed and motivated but mostly about how a positive mental attitude really helps keep me going.