Just over a week ago I brought my year of running to an end with my 6th marathon of the year and 15 months of planning had finally been brought into fruition as I bookended the year as I had planned with the Liverbird New Year’s Eve Marathon. Before that I had the small matter of reaching my secondary target of 2013, running 52 races in a calendar year.
1043.2 – 1051.28KM: Lincoln District Runners’ Charity Christmas Cross Country
Like with many of the 20+ races I ran in Lincolnshire in 2013, the ‘Lincoln District Runners’ Charity Christmas Cross Country’ was yet another race that had been on my doorstep for years but I had been ignorant of. It also won the record of having the longest race name of the year, one it will hold for quite a while, as well as being quite unique with it’s race entry being the donation of toys or selection boxes to a local children’s charity.
After a brisk 2 mile walk from my front door to the start of the race I was greeted by the sight of several bin bags full of chocolate. Avoiding the temptation to grab one and run off, I handed over my donation and then received my 52nd race number of the year in return. A few minutes later and it was time to line up at the start of the race, for the first of 5, mile long laps around Lincoln’s South Common.
With each lap the race course got tougher as the terrain began to be chewed up underfoot. The two short, but steep climbs started of as slightly challenging, by the end of the race as the mud turned very slippery under foot and forced me to walking pace in an attempt to keep my balance. Once at the top the course would turn to trail as we ran along the top of common before two stile crossings in quick succession and then back down towards the start and another lap. On the first lap I watched on in envy as other competitors feeling particularly more energetic than me leaped both stiles. I followed suit for the remainder of the laps for the first stile, but wasn’t willing to push my luck too much and so always climbed over the second. Before too long I found myself crossing the finish line to my 52nd race of the year to little fan fare, then continued on running back home for a nice warm shower and a cup of tea.
Distance: 7.08 km | 5.02 miles
Official Time: N/A
Average Pace: 05:38 min/km | 09:04 min/mi
Goody Bag: N/A
View my run:
1051.28 – 1093.48KM: Liverbird New Year’s Eve Marathon
At the beginning of the year when I began to think about how I could end my 1000km Challenge there were few options available. The one that stood out was the Liverbird New Years Eve Marathon, as not only would it allow me to run the required 6th marathon of the year, but it would also bookend the year perfectly and the Cleethorpes New Years Day 10k. Roll on 12 months and there I was on the River Mersey about to run my last 26.2 miles of the year.
It’s safe to say I wasn’t particularly feeling up for the marathon. As the rain was lashing down on the car windscreen on the way to the race I jovially, but also semi seriously, questioned why I was still doing it. I had completed the 1000KM Challenge over a month ago and just the other week I ran my 52nd race of the year, so there was little riding on my attendance. My main reason for signing up, even when I knew I would already reach my target before hand, was the matter of the ‘6th’ marathon. Throughout the year I had always maintained that I would be running 6, even now that I wouldn’t need to and even if I was probably the only person that would care if I didn’t.
It wasn’t the best frame of mind to be in only minutes before running a marathon, but with my number pinned on and less than 10 minutes to go until the start I did what I could to focus on the upcoming race. With a few minutes to go the rain stopped and as the clouds dispersed, my ability to blame the weather went with them.
The course was a fairly simple affair, with four 3 and a bit miles out and back laps along the river. After touching the wall at the end of the first half of a lap, we turned back in the direction of the start, ran around the red cowboy hat and then back again another three times. Early on I felt deceptively fresh and I began to be concerned as to whether I could simply roll out of bed with little preparation and run a marathon. It would be a good skill to have but one I would no doubt exploit down the line. Fortunately this would soon prove to not be the case and my pace would slowly, but surely begin to drop off. The multi lapped out and back course would prove to be a challenge mentally as much as it was physically. Whilst it could be used to your advantage by knowing exactly how far was left to run, the same reasons could be used in a negative light. Add to that the sight of the faster runners ‘lapping’ you and seeing them at the finish line whilst I still had another 7 miles to go, psychologically it would be my toughest race yet.
My pace dropped significantly for the last lap and a bit and I found myself running the toughest end to a marathon of my year. The last 8 miles would take me well over 90 minutes, around 15 minutes slower than the opening 8 miles. There’s hitting the wall and then there is the battle I found myself in for the last part of the race, at times it felt like I was barely moving and it became a case of ticking each mile off, one by one, until the finish line came into sight. For once I had nothing left in reserve to muster any thing resembling a sprint finish, even seeing Jenny waiting for me on the finish line barely raised a smile. Eventually I stumbled over the line, grabbed a bottle of water and slumped onto the nearest bench. After one long year, the 1000KM Challenge was now finally over. One year, 53 races and 1093.475km later and it’s all over.
At the time I blamed it on lack of training, general tiredness and a little bit of indulging over Christmas. It wasn’t until a few days afterwards that it dawned on me that I gave blood on Sunday, less than 36 hours before running the Marathon. As it turns out I’m not superhuman and I lack Wolverine’s healing abilities. In hindsight it was a bit of a reckless thing to do, as it could take at least 6 weeks to fully recover and something I will certainly learn from. Yet, as tough as the race was, the weather was kind to us, certainly in comparison to the following day’s marathon. So I guess in hindsight, it could always have been worse…
This post has been one of the toughest of the past year to write, for the past week I have spent every evening sat in front of my laptop waiting for these words to write themselves. As the challenge was drawing to a close, each post felt more difficult to get down and it felt like I was loosing enthusiasm for running. At the beginning of the year I never felt like I needed motivation to get out on the road, but as the year wore on I found the ‘Challenge’ as a great kick up the arse on weekends when I’d rather stay in bed. Now it’s over, along with general fatigue I’ve found myself stuck in a rut.
If you haven’t already done so then I ask you to take a look at my ‘2013 in Review: The Facts Figures’ infographic, for a look at numbers behind my past year of running. If you’re feeling generous and have made a New Years Resolution to be a better person, my JustGiving page is still open, so please visit http://justgiving.com/shanes1000km.
Distance: 42.17 km | 26.2 miles
Official Time: N/A
Average Pace: 06:05 min/km | 09:50 min/mi
Playlist: Iced Earth
Goody Bag: Medal
View my run: