Yesterday I ran my third marathon of the year so far (and ever), the Robin Hood Marathon around the streets of Nottingham. It also marked the end of the ninth month of my challenge and left me facing the final quarter of the year with just over 200km left to run. The race also confirmed my long held belief that I have the looks that appeal to both genders.
My preparation before each marathon this year seems to be getting steadily worse. First there was a dodgy airbed in London, then illness in Norfolk, before a week of lots of unwelcome stress, very little sleep and terrible eating this time around. I had ‘tapered’ as much as I could going in, but when I often use running as my mode of transport to work and with the two races last weekend I was not as ‘fresh’ as ideally I’d hoped to be. This shouldn’t have been a problem though, as with another two marathons lined up within a month I was very much planning on taking it steady.
I had set myself a rough target of around 4 hours, but without looking at a pace chart beforehand I knew I would be very much ‘winging’ it. I had 8 minute miles in my head as the pace to start off at, but expected I would probably be dropping the pace off significantly sooner or later. I wouldn’t have to wait long, almost instantly my legs felt very heavy and I knew I would have a long race ahead of me. Over the course of the first 5 or 6 miles some old running injuries began to tease a resurgence, first my hips began to play up for a few miles before then a sharp pain at the top of my knee plagued me for another. Thankfully I was able to ‘run’ these off, but for a brief period of time I thought the race was in jeopardy, having previously spent almost a year out being unable to run with undiagnosed hip issues.
Thankfully I would soon have something to take my mind off the pain as a fellow runner felt the need to tell me that I looked “hot from behind” and that he had essentially mistaken me for a woman. Had it been the first time it had ever happened it might have been funny, but truthfully I think I’ve probably been hit on by more guys than women. People often seem to look past my hairy legs and broad frame and just see a leggy blonde. Needless to say I soon picked up the pace to put some distance between myself and my new found admirer.
Earlier in the year I had the opportunity to run another lap at the Shakespeare Half Marathon and run the full 26.2 miles, ultimately being only a week after the London Marathon my body made the decision for me and I stopped half way as originally planned. In hindsight I probably could have continued as when the cut off point came shortly after 11 miles on Sunday I felt much worse than I did back in April. Had I simply been out on a training run I would have thought about calling the run short, but instead I carried on hoping to find my second wind.
Mentally the Half/Full Marathon split at 11 miles was horrible as I had to keep reminding myself that those two miles to reach the halfway point weren’t the 14th and 15th miles. Between the Robin Hood Half Marathon and Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest last year, then the Notts 10 Mile Road Race this year, I had at some point ran the majority of this route, which came in handy later on in the race. Whilst I didn’t quite ‘hit the wall’ I could feel myself getting slower with each mile, until around the 20th mile when my pace began to drop a fair bit again. At this point it became a case of counting down each mile. Others around me at this point had taken the tactic of alternating between running and walking, frustrating to keep getting overtaken by.
On longer runs I always have an ongoing battle between taking in enough drink and gels and trying not to throw up. Yesterday’s race was possibly the most successful I had ever been with balancing the two, but I was still massively dehydrated and knew I should have taken an extra gel. I’m sure the Chinese I had the night before didn’t help either, but that has become somewhat of a family pre-race tradition.
The last mile of the race seemed to go on forever. As you crossed the bridge you could see the finish line but then had to run at least half a mile in the wrong direction alongside the river before a quick 180 and back towards the finish. With just a few hundred metres to go I spotted my family in the crowd and after making a quick request for an ice cream carried on to the finish line, before crossing just a few minutes over my 4 hour target.
This morning I felt surprisingly mobile. My hips are sore, there is the usual aches and pains, a nice conjoined blister on my big toe and some chaffing in a rather unspeakable area, but I still expected to be a little worse off. A few horrific sessions on the foam roller, a couple of protein shakes and some stretching and I’ll be ready and raring to go again by the weekend. Maybe.
Fairly sure a chafed gooch goes down as my most painful running ‘injury’ ever. :(
— Shane Nicholl (@shanenicholl) September 29, 2013
I realised on the train to Nottingham that I had missed the cut off point for registration for the Mablethorpe Marathon, meaning that the two marathons I run next month would have to be the Spires & Steeples and Yorkshire Marathon instead. It gives me a weeks rest and means I will be running 3 marathons in 4 weeks instead of potentially 4 in 4. Annoying, but it would have potentially been very risky at this stage to push that hard beyond my comfort zone.
After some quick calculations earlier today I worked out that after running a 10K, the two marathons and the Great South Run, by the end of next month I will have reached 900km with two months to go. Running multiple races in a day and three in a weekend has meant that I am ahead of schedule at this stage and wouldn’t need to run the 6 marathons to reach my target. I still will though, I’m hoping to keep up momentum and see how high a target I can reach at the end of the year. It will be interesting to see how close I can come to the 1000km total without counting the solo runs. My secondary, unofficial target this year of running 52 races is looking slightly out of reach at this stage. So far I have ran 38 races in 39 weeks, but those few cancelled races earlier in the year could prove to be costly.
As always, please visit http://www.justgiving.com/shanes1000km and donate what you can and please share news of what I am doing with others.
Distance: 42.45km | 26.38 miles
Official Time: 04:03:38
Average Pace: 05:43 min/km | 9:13 min/mi
Playlist: Deaf Havana
Goody Bag: Medal, Bottle of Water, Lucozade, Banana, Mars Bar, Lucozade Recovery Bar & Eat Natural Bar
View my run: