Marathon training – 4 weeks to go (and another race recap!)

Four weeks?? FOUR? I’m not quite sure where the last twelve weeks have gone and it seems like not long since I signed up for this marathon, when in fact I think it was August (super early bird cheapskate entry prices). And now here we are; I’ve completed a half marathon as part of my training and last week dragged poor Paul out of bed at an extraordinarily early hour on a Sunday to drive to the very start of the Camel Trail. I had signed up for The Super Serious Run as the 17.4 miles of flat (heavenly) trails fit perfectly in my training plan, and a bit of competition never does you any harm.

The Big Run is organised on behalf of the National Lobster Hatchery, a marine charity that does exactly what it says…and is based in Padstow, at the other end of the Camel Trail. There is a little run (5.5m), a big run (11m), and the super serious run. So obviously, being a super serious person and a super serious runner, I signed up straight away. We started at the Snail’s Pace cafe at Wenfordbridge and I was impressed with the amount of people there, I think around 100 started which meant a good atmosphere but also a queue for the solitary portaloo. Paul waved us off and drove to the finishing line to await my glorious finish.

I’d never been to the Camel Trail before so most of this run was spent admiring the scenery (daffodils! lambs! rivers!) and the novelty of running a completely flat race; I’ve run 3 half marathons in Cornwall now and all of them have been horrendously hilly. As this race isn’t part of the racing schedule for the running clubs, there was a nice mix of non-club and independant runners. I even managed to have a chat with a few people along the way, including a lady who was training for a 100km! The ‘crowd’ support, for what there was, was absolutely lovely. It was mother’s day and a beautifully crisp Sunday morning, so lots of cyclists, dog walkers, other joggers and the like out enjoying the day, and almost all of them gave a smile or a well done or a high 5. I was even told I looked ‘strong’ by 2 different people! The water stations were quite erratic. We were expecting them at 4 and 8 miles, but the first one was at just after 3, then another at 6.5 (where the marshall said ‘you’re at 8 miles now, well done!’…), then nothing til Wadebridge town centre at 12 miles, and another at 15, just 2 miles from the end! I felt a bit unprepared for these and would have appreciated them being more communicated at the start and more signposted along the way.

In terms of the actual run, I FLEW the first 13 miles to the point where I would only have been 2 minutes off a PB had this been a half. All of my miles were under 11 minutes which was my goal and made me so happy, considering my recent long run paces. Unfortunately after this point my legs/hips/knees/entire lower body started to sieze up and I slowed to more like a 12:30 minute mile. The last stretch from Wadebridge to Padstow was incredibly painful and a real slog, especially as the terrain switched from trail and compacted earth to tarmac. At the final water station I stopped for a stretch, drink and jelly beans before limping away, through the last couple of miles and over the finish line.

We thankfully had the use of the scout hut to get changed so I was straight in there and got changed into my comfies whilst downing a chocolate protein shake, litre of electrolytes, half a banana, ibuprofen…Long runs leave me absolutely wiped and in all the nausea and pain I missed out on the most important part – the free pint from Sharpes Brewery!! Gutted. At least there was a medal, so I have a lasting memory.

After a walk around the harbour, a pot of tea, and a steak pie and chips I felt pretty much back to normal and super proud of my longest ever run. However, after another 12 miler this Sunday the niggle in my knee has now developed into full-on runner’s knee (completely self-diagnosed but also completely self-inflicted due to a serious lack of stretching and cross training, oh dear) and I’m hobbling around the office as though I’ve got a peg leg…

I’m now meant to be in peak week with a 22-24 mile run scheduled for the weekend, but at this moment (12pm on Tuesday) it’s not looking too likely. I’m in a quandary as to whether to rest the remainder of this week and push for the long run, or move the peak run to the week after and have a shorter taper. I just don’t know! Oh this running lark, it’s much more complicated than it seems…

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