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Saturday, 21 June 2014

Race Report South Downs Marathon

Marathon #51 was a bit of a worry from the start. I have not run more than 10 miles in the last 2 months and have been getting in junk miles. However I entered this with the trepidation of a lamb to the slaughter and you might well want to douse my quads in mint sauce this evening!

Up at 4.45am this morning with a couple of bacon and egg butties and off down to not far from Portsmouth. Arriving at the finish at 7am, I boarded a coach to the start. From 7.45am until 9.30am I sat, stretched, ate, watched the relays go off and pondered in quite contemplation with Chichester and the sea on the horizon. 2 mins before the start I bumped into Helen. My favourite runner to run with ever was looking good off the back of the SDW100. This day was all about her as this was marathon #100. I take my new cap off to you my good running buddy!

I ran with Helen from the gun to the top of the first hill. Anyone who has done this knows that there is a 750ft grind over 4 miles. We chit-chatted but near to the top, Helen was clearly in form. I ushered her onwards recounting the 30 miles I had ran in the last 4 weeks! I was in no state to be competitive but just happy to bimble along in the middle of the pack rather than search out a top-30. Helen was only about 100m ahead for the next 3-4 miles or so. At CP1 I remembered that water was pretty much the only fayre at CPs. After 6 miles we were up on the South Downs Way and running into a god breeze. I really enjoyed the next miles up to the halfway point at Cocking Down. I was in probably a runners high, breeze in my face, sun beaming down and flitting around puddles in the trees, occasionally chatting to runners. Cocking came and I paid close attention to the point where I clipped a rock and face planted on the SDW100 last year. Judging by the gradient, I was lucky to have a visit to A&E and only a bruised arm, black eye and bleeding retina!

Mile 13 to 18 was about digging in. A caffeinated  gel held me together but I was starting to realise that I didn't have enough miles in my legs. The hills were brutal. I had to walk some of them. Whizzing up to Harting Downs and a chance to take on my last gel and some water, I realised that after a positive start, this was just about the finish. Uphill allegiances were forged and then lost on the downhills as I overtook runners. The clock was ticking and in the last few miles struck up a conversation with Sam who was running his first ever marathon. What a marathon to choose!

Coming into the finish was great. I forgot how good a big finish was! Helen wand Peter were at the finish waiting for me. Helen finished just 10 mins in front of my 4 hours 30 and Peter in 3.50. After a boiling hot beer we got back on the way with some chit-chat in the car.

Only 5 marathons/ultras done this year. This was #51. Done! How good to return to my beautiful new daughter and amazing wife after such a good day.

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