As I write this at 7pm, I’m hurting! Left quad and thigh feels shot to bits, looking forward to a recovery day tomorrow. Great preparatory Marathon race, quite low key. Just an hour down the motorway and after an early start and a very poor diet yesterday (cheeseburger and chips at the Villa for an epic Cup win over the Baggies, with added crowd invasion), it was an assembly at a Park and Ride near Gloucester for a serious race-briefing and gathering of 400 or so souls for this annual 20 miler.
Rule number 1: Check your watch. Not me – mine had died before I even started, so I was feted to run to feel, rather than to pace, which can always be dangerous. I wasn’t planning to go out any faster than 8 minute miling, but I also forgot rule number 2; You’ll always be going out faster than you think! A whole swoop of runners passed me in the first few miles through attractive suburban Industrial estate landscape, and I was feeling rather smug thinking I may pass a number of them again later with my super slow pacing! Didn’t quite work that way though as Races seem to defy time and space equations, and I was already a few minutes up after just a few miles, as we headed out on to one of three loops of just over 5 miles, in much more attractive rural surroundings.
It was a good morning for running; damp and drizzly and a little wind, but nothing too concerning. Without watch and headphones (the iPod Nazi’s were out in full affect – instant banning apparently) it did give a chance for race reflections, and at one point all you could hear was the sound of local birdsong. Ah, the joys of running. The field also spaced out naturally and the teal vest attraction, Bournville having the noteriety that it has, led to striking up a conversation with a female runner, Katie, who won the women’s full JW Ultra last year, and was using the race as a second 20 mile run this weekend! I ended up running the next 15 or so miles with her at about 7.45 pace (I’m guessing as I actually don’t know!), and the miles flew by, as did the couple of mini-inclines on each particular circuit. I think that’s one of the best things about running; unless it’s eyeballs out and total focus, you never know who you may be running with. Anyway, she gamely left me in her wake with a couple of miles to go and I completed the final loop and headed back to the finish and race HQ. Rather than speed I was looking for continuity, and although it was starting to hurt at about 18 miles, there seemed a few other much worse off, which is always psychologically lifting. Pleased to see the finish line, almost instantaneously brought back up the goodie bag fizzy Lucozade and then wondered how I was going to fit into my Xtra Small technical T-Shirt. Ho Hum, life’s too short ….
I would definitely recommend this for any marathoners looking to do a 20 miler in race conditions (I was the lone BVHer today I think), but it has brought home the fact that 20 miles (in itself) is a bloody long way, and the body is still rebellious. Strangely it’s ‘not’ the Gloucester 20 it used to be. I did this as my first ever 20 miler back in 2007, and it’s a completely different course. The old one was more aligned with Frampton, for those who know the July 10km route.
Marathon training on track though, another good consistent 45 miler (or thereabouts week), and pleased to have got this completed. Just have to wait for the time now – I think it was about 2.35, so not in PB territory but hopefully not too fast that I’ll feel beaten up for the next week or so ….
If anyone is interested to see how Marathon training can take over your life, and kill your social one stone dead, here’s a 20 week Blog I’m keeping on the ‘Road to London’: http://mikescotneyvlm.blogspot.co.uk