Marathon 71 – not the best!

Marathon 71. Enigma Running were holding their annual Quadzilla event, 4 marathons over 4 days, all around Caldecotte Lake in Milton Keynes. I’ve done the full event twice before, but this year elected just to run the final day. In previous years there’s been snow and floods and the best of what the British winter can throw at you. This year was comparatively good and just a strong wind to contend with. In the week running up to race I’d felt well rested having not run since Wednesday morning and looking at the times from day 1-3 and the start list I was feeling like a 3 marathon warm up may have taken the edge of most runners and I’d place well, maybe even equal or better my second place record.
I turned up at the lake feeling hungry which wasn’t a good start. I’d elected not to have my usual McD breakfast and had some home made pancakes with the kids instead, it didn’t seem to work. I was equally delighted and annoyed to see fellow club runner Chris turn up as a last minute decision to get some training miles in. He’s of a level that a ‘gentle training run’ for him is faster than I manage on a good day going all out, so I knew I wouldn’t be placing as highly as I’d hoped. Another surprise was a regular sub-3hr runner doing his 100th marathon to join the 100MC. So another place lower….
I lead the race for nearly 50 metres, making the most of fellow club members spectating egging me on to (briefly) beat Chris. I then settled down in third place at a steady 7:50mile average whilst Chris and the 99 runner went past. Held my place well for 4 of the 7 laps but then lost a place to Paul Allen, a member of the 100MC and leading the Quadzilla event overall, so happy to settle to 4th place. As the miles wore on my pace slipped and the wind wasn’t helping. If you’re a little on the heavyset side the wind really has something to push against and I was struggling to push back. Coming in to start my final lap my legs were refusing to turn over and whilst taking a brief walk to down a drink I was overtaken by Alex Penny, also doing all four days, dropping a further place. I vowed not to Alex out of my sight and picked up pace again but within a short while it was clear he was off. I kept the pace as fast as I could manage but was well beyond going sub 3:30, and sub 3:45 was looking doubtful. Losing enthusiasm I slowed to a walk on the rear of the South lake and had a word with myself. The previous two marathons in January had been 3:32 and I didn’t want to be too far adrift of this and mess up my average for the year, so motivated myself as best I could, changed music on the iPod and pushed on, despite my legs having seemingly gone home early without me. With about half a mile to go I was passed by the Portugese legend Tiago Dionisio and some others also doing the full 4 days, and finally dragged myself over the line in 3:40 and 7th place. Tried to remind myself that it wasn’t that long ago it would have been a PB and even if by some miracle I’d have hung on to Alex for the final lap I’d have finished 3:31 and still missed the sub 3:30 goal.
Lessons learnt – don’t mess up the pre-race breakfast, don’t be a fat bar steward in strong winds. 


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