London Night Marathon 11pm Friday 6th September 2013
Dunstable Marathon 10am Sunday 8th September 2013
What’s all this about then? Why two marathons in a weekend? What’s the point of all this stupid distance running lark? That last one was from my wonderful husband.
Well. I’ll tell you. I’ve been following a rather odd training plan. During the week – Monday to Thursday – short distance, get those legs moving as fast as you can, running limited to 10-20 minutes in total with lots of core training – planks/situps/hip strengthening and so on. At the weekend I have a planned distance to run over 3 days – Friday, Saturday and Sunday. For example – Planned distance = 20 miles. Saturday I run 10 miles. Sunday I run 10 miles. Or to make it confusing I run 20 miles on Sunday and that’s it for the weekend. Since January 2013 I’ve been increasing from 10 miles in total for the weekend to 50 miles with a break every 6 weeks or so. It’s not an official training plan. It’s not even guaranteed to make anyone faster but I’ve seen my endurance go from around 20 miles to around 30 miles and I still have enough left to keep on going. I’ve not met the wall yet but I’m sure I will someday. Until then, I’m trying to maintain my weekend distance of 50 miles or so. I’m hoping this training will be enough to get me running an ultra rather than walking an ultra.
Now you know why I ran two marathons. Why run through London at night? Firstly, it wasn’t my idea. Honestly, it wasn’t. I wanted to experience night running because some ultras go through the night. Yes they do! I had experienced failure during the Lakeland 50 at 2am and I had that doubt in my head that maybe it was the walking through the night that had clobbered my hopes of finishing the Lakeland 50. Running at night is obviously difficult as you’re going to be battling fatigue as a result of your internal clock as well as fatigue from physical activity. I knew I could do the distance, I had successfully run 26.2 miles 6 times since May this year.
What’s the point of all this stupid distance running lark? Since getting back into running in 2009 I’ve had high points and low points but I’ve always had goals. Some easy, some stupidly difficult. All of those goals have been on improving my personal fitness so I don’t have to depend on medication to keep away the pain in my back or hip or head. I run to feel alive. I run to feel exhilarated. I run for the adventure and entertainment of sometimes getting lost. I run to keep up with my kids. I run to keep my body and mind moving forward. Lastly – I run to keep my body looking good for my husband. Better than any makeup or expensive clothes can buy, lol!
It’s not easy fitting in all the training and running with a family and if it wasn’t for my lovely husband I’m sure I wouldn’t be running around London or Dunstable having a hoot of a time at all. To running widows out there – we thank you.
London Night Marathon – Was it tough? Yes. Was it fun? Hell yes! Rod and I got to Euston station at around 10:30pm and waited around for another three people to turn up. One guy was travelling from Birmingham just to run around London at night. Big respect! We set of after 11pm and it was a perfect night for it. Cool but not cold. To begin with I felt like I was running with bodyguards. I can recommend these guys, they were a lot of fun to run with. The landmarks I remember were – the palace, London eye, millennium bridge, tower bridge, tower of London, marble arch, Leicester square, china town and I think London museum, the shard, the gerkin and probably loads more. Lots of drunk shouty people. I’m truly sorry for the 5 mile hunt for MacDonald for a toilet break. Where’s a MacDonald’s in London when you need one? We said goodbye to two of our group as they headed of for the office or the train home.
It lots of fun. Until mile 23 and then the body clock kicked in. You should be sleeping. Just sit down and close your eyes. You’re lovely and warm from running, no need to run anymore. My ability to keep pushing myself and keep going had completely deserted me. I was being betrayed by my own body. It was like I was trapped in a soundproof box and no matter how much I shouted and screamed at myself to keep going my body was just not listening. A very strange feeling. Rod kept me going, I’m definitely sure I would have stopped if Rod didn’t keep me going. Keep going another mile. It’s not long. Don’t think about stopping. Keep going. All the things I would normally be able to chant to myself. I did slow down, I nearly stopped a few times because I felt drunk. But I kept moving. I kept moving until my gps watch told me I’d reached 26.2 miles. Then I stopped. We congratulated ourselves and then I started feeling better. What the hell is that all about? It was 4:30am and only when I knew I didn’t have to run anymore did I start to feel like I was waking up! Ugh! Now I know what to expect. My body will do just about anything to slow me down during the night hours. For anyone out there expecting the run or walk through the night. Try to do a training run through the night. The only time limit – stay up through the night! I feel far more prepared for my next attempt at Lakeland 50. Okay the terrain is nowhere near as tough as the lake district but I know my body will try anything to stop me. Well it’s not going to happen. I’m going to beat this night running thing. My body will keep on going because it is strong enough and I have to believe that no matter what. So there!!
Dunstable Marathon – I wasn’t expecting a fast time on this one. I wasn’t expecting to be bouncing and full of energy on the start line. I certainly wasn’t expecting to be quite happily running along without a care in the world – other than looking after a couple of first time marathoners from Leighton Fun Runners. I felt good. I felt strong and everything was working wonderfully. I’m amazed I remembered the route from all my hard work last year of running through the instructions and going out and reccying the route bit by bit. I had all my fuel prepared and my plan for each check point was simple – grab a drink of water. Grab some cake if it’s something I like and then move, move, move, move. Keep moving and don’t stop. We all reached the Ashridge Monument in good time. A quick toilet break at the café and we were all jogging along again. I had no need to check the map or the instructions as I knew where I was going. The Leighton Fun Runners following happy in the knowledge that they had someone who knew where they were going. By the time we all reached the Berkhamsted Golf Club we had collected a Dunstable Road Runner – what I didn’t know at that point was that Sarah from Dunstable Road Runners was the sweeper for the marathon course. We spotted a couple runners in trouble, we had a laugh and a joke about the possibility of cows chasing us, some of our group scoffed some local plums at one of the check points and most of all we kept moving and having a chat and moving and more chatting. The time was wizzing by and we were all enjoying ourselves. It was a lovely run out in the hills of Dunstable and Whipsnade. When we finally got to the last two miles our group stretched out to those who were still able to run and those who just couldn’t run any faster. We all got back to the finish to find that two fun runners and a couple other runners had got majorly lost. By the time they made it back to the finish line they had clocked up 34 miles. For one of the Leighton Fun Runners – Dee Naughton – it was her first marathon/ultra. Wow!
What lessons did I learn that weekend? Well. Running through the night is mentally more challenging than the physical side of running so forward planning and some poor victim to keep me going is required until I gain enough mental will power to overcome the evil thing between my ears. Running another marathon on marathon weary legs was much easier than I thought but then again I wasn’t really going fast at all. It was still a hilarious day out in Dunstable that I thoroughly enjoyed.