Nineteen down, one to go
I just find it so hard to comprehend those few words.
The year, in fact the last few years have been a rollercoaster. It’s often felt like such a long year and yet it hardly seems possible that I wrote one down, nineteen to go almost eleven months ago. But here I am having followed Washington and New York, quite possibly two of the most memorable marathons I’ve ever run, with a real tester to leave our home marathon to finish the year.
I travelled to Deal in Kent, the venue of my third marathon of the year with River, a constant support throughout. The guys at Deal Fire Station were kindly putting us up for the weekend as they had done for me earlier in the year. River is accompanying me on what is advertised as the toughest footrace on earth next year, and so in our wisdom we targeted this weekend as one to test back to back marathons and some of the kit we’ll need when racing across the Sahara in April.
After settling in at the station and preparing to slum it on the floor for the night after eating our freeze-dried ‘rations’, we thought the best way to simulate dehydration the following day would be to pop in to the local for a couple of swift pints !
A sleepless night later, we were up early to make our way down to Deal seafront to get started on number 18.
Just to make things a little more challenging we were running with the packs we plan to use for next year to see how we’d cope with the extra weight and to test comfort.
I remembered from February that the course wasn’t the most inspiring, especially as we had to complete five out and backs of Deal promenade on Saturday and two longer out and backs on Sunday, so it was good to know that some fellow BCRCer’s would be joining us for the weekend. Ken and Darren joining us on Saturday, and Louise and Natalie on Sunday.
(Thomas, along with his sister Elly, came along to provide entertainment, much as they did at Richmond Park !)
Saturday went pretty well, the weather whilst cold wasn’t too bad and we’d planned to pace just under four hours in preparation for the following day. River really toughed it out suffering with flu type symptoms that left me doubting whether I would’ve been able to complete the day in the same condition. It was good to see both Ken and Darren running strong and ‘enjoying’ the day. River and I finished, as planned in around 3 hours 52 minutes, but with some doubt as to whether River would make the start on Sunday.
Ken and Darren weren’t so far behind, and so we made the most of that evening by eating proper food in a local restaurant and having a couple more pints of course !
Sunday was a slightly different proposition. It may well have been running back to backs, lack of sleep, the aforementioned pints, the horrendous weather or a combination of all of these, but to sum it up …… it was brutal.
River was still feeling rough, but we made it to the start which meant we’d make it to the finish somehow. It was great to see everyone at the start despite the strong winds howling in from the north, but that turned out to be the best part of the day.
We managed to get through the first half at a fairly decent pace with Natalie and Louise keeping good pace too. It was a boost to see Darren out supporting around this point, and he joined us for part of the run as a leg loosener after yesterdays efforts. At around 16 miles, on the second out and back heading back into the wind I just wanted to sleep ! From then on in I spent most of my time wondering how one week I could be having such an amazing time in Washington and New York, and a few weeks later just hoping to survive another 10 miles so I could just go home. I’ve had some tough races this year, but at that point I couldn’t think of many tougher and vowed never to return to Deal again.
Eating Jelly Babies and a Jammie Dodger at the final aid station didn’t do much to improve my mood either …… a telling sign I wasn’t enjoying myself !
But we finished. In a little over 4 hours 13 minutes we’d both completed our first back to back marathons wondering why we’d just completed our first back to back marathons !!
The finish line photos kind of sum up how I’d felt about each day ….. Saturday …
and Sunday …..
Done Deal …… Deal Done, never again.
Learning points –
- Sleeping on a Fire Station floor on a thin air mattress is never a good idea
- Cold freeze-dried food isn’t the best pre-race carb loading plan
- A couple of pints of Guinness the night before a race worked pretty well
- I’m not sure I’ve mentioned it before, but the people of BCRC are pretty awesome
- Deal seafront isn’t so much, well not in the winter anyway
- I have a huge amount of respect for anyone that can get out there and run a marathon, for those that run multi-day events ? After April next year, they’re all yours !
- The Kent coast can get very windy in November
- You learn a lot about what you can put up with on weekends like this …. I even ate a burger in a dodgy high street café !
Massive kudos to River for fronting up when most wouldn’t have gotten out of bed, and thanks for your support. And a big thank you to the BCRCer’s for making it slightly more bearable. I guess I can’t expect to love every race. Weekends like this just make the special ones all the more special.
And so to Portsmouth, our home town. Where we were born, where we met, where we were married, where we lived and where we loved ……