More by accident than design the two weeks prior to the penultimate marathon were spent with family and friends at a villa in Pulia, Italy. An Italian Tune Up for your car is ruthlessly caning your car on the way to the MOT to try and burn off the crud and scrape the emissions test. My Italian tune up was more indulging in some vital ‘P’s; Peroni, Prosecco, prosciutto, pasta and pizza.
The searing temps meant runs were kept relatively short and the remote location, whilst ideal for a restful break made runs very repetitive and prone to getting lost (“was it left after the 5th or 6th Olive farm?”). The farmers preference for guard dogs and disdain for adequate fencing meant on more than one occasion my steady long run was cut short by some unplanned max efforts as I sought safety or just to outrun hounds in 35degC heat. The first week I managed to scrape 35 miles, the second was more like 12.
The heat had imposed a proper taper so I resolved to approach the 99th marathon well rested and adequately hydrated (more Peroni and Prosecco).
The flight back home was delayed and was nearly 1am when we rolled into bed at home, setting my alarm for six hours hence to allow time to get up and find some trainers and gear to wear, all tasks I’d neglected prior to the holiday.
Number 99 was either going to be amazing or awful.
Sunday morning arrived and I bid farewell to family, hello to the McDonalds staff for a pre-race ritual and turned up ready for another seven and a bit laps of Caldecotte lake.
Plan was to ignore watch and run to feel. This kept me in first place for over a lap before losing a spot, and then a couple of laps later I lost a further place as the temps climbed. It wasn’t as bad as Italy but more than predicted. I’d forgotten a hat (bad planning) and my sunglasses collapsed somewhere around mile 16, either by the sheer G-force imposed by my early pace or because they squashed in the suitcase on the flight back.
By 18 miles I was struggling to keep sub8 so knew it was just a hold on and bare it for third place and 3:28.