Saturday 8th June: SDW Marathon
South Downs Marathon is beautiful – I definitely recommend. Although, maybe not two weeks after GUCR. It was only ever a recovery run for me, but still, those hills were pretty tricky in places.
I’d never done this marathon before, although I have done the Downland Challenge, which is approx. 30 miles over parts of the SDW, so I knew the area was very scenic. This was also a great opportunity to see a lot of the ‘usual suspects’ who I hadn’t seen for a while. Everyone seemed to be there. And I was able to introduce all my crazy runner friends to George, which was nice :o) It’s always great to have a catch-up at events and of course, lots of piccies for the photo album were snapped.
So, before I knew it, we were off. Even from the very beginning, my legs felt a bit stiff, but they did eventually loosen up for the most part. It was a scorching hot day, very warm and the sun was beating down already. I just took it easy and continued to take it pretty easy.
I had decided to wear my trail shoes and I was pretty pleased with this decision. Even though there were road sections and the ground was dry and hard, and therefore perfectly runnable in road shoes, there were niggly stones that I know would have shredded my feet had I been in road shoes. Even as I recount this marathon almost a month after I actually did it (I’ve gone very slow on the blog front, as I’ve been a busy Lizzy), my feet are still showing signs of recovering from ultra-ness. My feet are peeling and I find this sometimes happens to me even months after a big ultra. Therefore, two weeks after GUCR, my feet were still pretty tenderised. Thus, trail shoes were an excellent idea for SDW marathon. The sole is obviously much thicker and I didn’t feel the ruts or niggly stones under my feet. Me and niggly sharp stones do not get on.
The first few miles of this marathon were a little bit crowded down narrow paths. This was a little tricky, as one guy attempted to undertake me on a corner, in the middle of a woods. He nearly went flying (silly man) and I was a little annoyed and got clipped and stumbled, but managed not to fall. I’m not sure why some people feel the need to overtake others in stupid places. How much time are they really going to save themselves if they end up causing themselves, or someone else unnecessary injury? Once the field had spread out, this sort of thing ceased to be a problem.
A couple of hours in and the sun was now really hot. My stomach wasn’t feeling too great, but I was okay. However, I wish I had followed George’s idea of filling a Camelbak up with coke (even though I don’t own a Camelbak...oh well, somehow I wish I had carried some coke). I was really craving something fizzy and ‘energy-giving’. I was making sure I was drinking plenty of water and getting some electrolytes back in, but there comes a certain point where you need a little more than water and salt capsules/ electrolyte stuff. I started to feel a little sickly. But again, I was ultimately okay. I just had to ride the feeling out with some much needed walking. I also ate some salted mixed nuts & some choc-chip Hammer Nutrition energy bar.
Before I knew it, we were into the last few miles and I just could not wait to get to that finish line and get a nice cold fizzy drink. It’s really strange however; I struggled to ‘sprint’ into the finish, and yet I always normally manage to give it something at the end, I even ‘sprinted’ the end of GUCR...but on this, I was pretty stiff near the end. I think I finished in 6 hours exactly. Pretty slow, but it was indeed a recovery marathon. And I got my Dr Pepper at the end :o) I was aiming for below 6hours, but I was dawdling quite a bit. There were also some hills where I felt completely zapped of all energy...I literally felt like I was on a treadmill going nowhere, not moving forwards, but trying to.
Goody bags were pretty full of various random things on this event, which I really miss on all the smaller trail events I run and liked. Highlights included a teeny can of alcohol-free recovery beer. I wish it had been alcoholic, but it was pretty tasty. We also got some rather strange hard-boiled coffee sweeties. Exciting. And we got a nice medal and a t-shirt.
Overall, I would definitely recommend the SDW marathon to anyone, in future. Really good, friendly organisation. And lots of scenic surroundings and pretty hills :o)