Monday, 25 June 2012

Sixteen Weeks

Sixteen weeks from today it'll all be over. I'll probably be hobbling around Kona, Hawaii with the previous 48hrs buzzing through me head, working out where I lost time, what I could/should have done better. Hopefully I'll be walking round with a satisfied glow that says I've finally got it right and put in a time I know I'm capable of. Until then it's time to knuckle down to some training and what better way to start my final 16 weeks of training than with the North Devon Marathon.
As is always the case I was hardly prepared to compete on this nice little off road trot out along North Devon's scenic (and damn hilly) coastline. With my only averaging 3hrs running a week this year (as normal) pacing would be a huge issue, just as it is in Ironman. I even went out for 50 hilly miles with local bike monster Mark Lees the day before, just to loosen the quads up of course ;-)
Knowing the course, especially how tough the 2nd half is I took it nice and steady running well within myself for the first (much easier) half in the hope that I'd see a few early pace setters come back to me when the proper climbs kicked in. Although the first half is easier than the second it's still tough and I wasn't afraid to walk when I felt a climb justified it, I didn't want my Heart Rate hitting any dizzy heights when there was so far to go.

The race started at 10am and from the gun people went charging off as if it was a 10k. I ran the first half mile chatting with running machine and eventual winner John Ward well outside of the top 20 before I eased off even more and let him do what he does best, rip the trails up.
Outside of the first mile I don't think anybody passed me all day and I was soon picking up a few places as the early excitable starters realised they were in for a long day. Around 10miles I started getting that annoying toilet urge, the scourge of many a long run. I managed to hold everything together until 12 miles when I popped into the conveniently located toilets and wasted a couple of minutes only to discover it was just BLOODY WIND! Still it wasn't an issue, this was about getting it done not chasing a time and when I saw Shelly at the half way point back in Woolacombe I was surprised to hear her shout that I was in 15th place.
The second half of the course is pure evil, especially if you have tired legs already. As the course snakes around the coastline there are several lots of zigzag steps (both up and down) where it's too steep to just go straight up or down. Then there is Lee Bay! The biggest climb on the course which hits you hard at the 18mile mark. I passed two people going up this climb, both of them finished over 30mins behind me. That's what happens when you go BOOM at the North Devon Marathon!
I passed another couple of folks once Lee Bay was out of the way and climbing the Tarka Trail for home there was one runner ahead who'd obviously worked through his rough patch and was getting no closer. I was picking the pace up at this point thinking that a surprise sub 3:30 was on the cards and then disaster struck! A sign went AWOL, or a marshal didn't show at a hugely important turn into a field and the two of us went sailing right past. Of course I should have known to turn off, I've run it before but after 24.5miles on your feet you just plow on unless someone says different. Thankfully in the end it wasn't a huge issue, it probably cost both of us a sub 3:30 finish but neither of us lost position although I don't know how it affected people later on because it seemed to have not been rectified 30mins later!!So I had a cruise through the final mile or so of fields and rocked up at the Finish Line in 3h33m, a massive 35min improvement on last year although there was no dodgy camera work this year, nor were there the absolutely scorching temperatures the 2011 event was raced in.
Once again the chip timing results were a total mess with me initially being down as a DNF(!!!!) thankfully this has been rectified very quickly although I still think there is someone ahead of me who only actually did 13.1miles. That's not a problem though, the main thing is that I got through it fine with my meagre amount of run training AND a tough bike ride the day before. I've even been out for an hour on the bike today, so the legs aren't too bad!
So, my 16 week countdown has started ok. Next up in Bideford Tri in two weeks time where I'll be defending my title from last year. On that weekend I rode 100miles the day before the race, who knows what fun I'll get up to this year :-D


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david benoit said...

Congratulations Iain! Thank you so much for taking the time to share this exciting information.

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