Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Buff Enigma Winter Double Marathons

2014 was only a 3 days old when I made the drive up to Milton Keynes ready for the weekends double marathons. Only having a half day, I meet up with Foxy at Foxy towers for tea and biscuits. We then planned to head to Caldecotte lake for some lunch and mark the course. After a lovely lunch, thank you Foxy, we went out to check the course and mark it. All looked god considering the weather. Caldecotte lake is a man made lake to deal with flooding in the Milton Keynes area.

At 8pm that evening I was back in the pub for the "Expo". Karen and Foxy were late, and I soon found out why, at some point after we marked the course the weir on the river had been closed and now part of the course was flooded. This was also the route they were using to walk to the pub. Karen and foxy now had a dilemma, one they had already started to rectify, a course change to the nearby Furzton lake. The final decision was to be made in the morning if the course was still flooded, for now it was food and drink time.

I arose around 6am, so decided to head down to the lake myself. Unfortunately it was still flooded and I texted Foxy to let him know. Wheels were now in motion and it wasn't to long until I was driving Foxy to Furzton to start setting up for day one. Karen stayed at Caldecotte to meet the runners and to direct them the short drive to the new venue for the Winter Double. It was amazing to see how easily they took it into their stride to organise this last minute venue change.

This years Enigma races have been sponsored by Buff Headwear, the new banners in the picture above. This was the start/finish line.

My race plan for the day was to go for a pb. Of course the wind and rain was going to make that a tough target. My plan was to run 9.30min/miles for he first half and run 10.30min/miles for the second half. Hopefully bringing me home around 4hrs22. A 6 minute pb. 

In wet and windy weather we were off. A short loop up the course clockwise then turning around to run the lake anti clockwise 17 times. Now I know what you're thinking. And I thought that too. But the course is surprisingly nice to run around 17 times. There's always a fellow runner near by either catching you or you're catching them. You get to see the finish area where the food and drink is lots of times too. It's at this point I must thank Karen. If the race was at the original venue, Karen would've only needed to count approx 60 runners for 7 laps, with the course change, it was now 17. A tough task I think you would agree!

Back to the race. My plan of 9.30min/miles went out the window pretty quickly. I was feeling good running at 9min/mile pace and occasionally dipping below that. So, probably unwisely I decided to stick to this pace. All was going really well and although some time had slipped, I went through half marathon distance in 2.02!

I then decided to keep going as long as I could at sub 10min/mile pace. Thinks we're looking good and I didn't feel that I was taxing my body. Around 15 miles I had to help Steve Edwards along with a few other runners. The risk on running at the lake was the Canada Geese, unfortunately a group of them decided to come across Steve's path. Being the size they were, and as Steve said on Sunday, a mix of large bird and tired legs was only going to result in Steve going over. Like a real trooper, Steve dusted himself down and was off into thei distance. I finished off my Jaffa Cake. 

The next lap and the wheels were starting to come off, but, I had banked some time. Bonus! I was now having to dig deep. But, by mile 20, I had to readjust my target, 4.22 was now a very tough target, so I started to look at just grabbing a pb, 4.28. Two laps later and a bit of maths and I knew that was slipping. 3.2 miles to go and I was pushing as hard as I could. Unfortunately 4.28 slipped by, but I crossed the line in my second fastest marathon time of 4.33.13!!I was over the moon! 4 and a half minutes off a pb in less than ideal conditions. I gave everything.

Day two didn't start the best. Waking up with a sore left foot. It had been wedged at the end of the bed where the duvet gets tucked in. I wasn't feeling up for it. But hey, that's the challenge. You can't bust your gut on one marathon and expect to feel fresh for the next day!

The previous night, myself and Brenda had convinced Carrie to run the marathon. Carrie had planned to run a few laps for training. A little pier pressure and no alcohol and Carrie was in!!

After checking out of the hotel, I took Foxy and Cameroon to Furzton lake to setup for day two.
A few running friends were turning up for day two, they included Lorrine, Coralie, Belinda, Jo, Emmett, Paul and of course Carrie. Carrie and I decided to run together. The weather was better than day one, but it was cold an icey under foot. 

The plan for the day was to run 11min/miles for the first half, then try to go quicker for a few miles after that, settling back into 11min/mile pace for a sub 5. 

We were off again and the legs started to complain, as expected! Setting off slow was alien to me, constant checking of my Garmin to check pace. To be honest, I struggled to run at 11min/mile pace. It just felt to slow. Carrie and I did feel for the first half marathon. Chatting the way around, me constantly asking if it was a good idea to run a last minute marathon! Also getting told off when reminding us of how far there was to go. We crossed the halfway in 2.30, it would've been slightly quicker, but someone needed the little girls room. 

Not long after going through the halfway point, we caught Lorraine, Belinda and Coralie. I have to say, they were doing far better than I expected. I don't mean that disrespectively. I just expected them to be a little slower. They were doing really well and were only 1.5 miles behind us. After a quick chat and some words of encouragement, Carrie and I cracked on.

This second day was far more social, chatting to friends as they went by, Emily with her lovely dog, Paul always smiling as he checked on us. Stefan and Jeremy were having better days. Trying to keep count of how many times Rik had lapped me. The best thing about Enigma events, it's personal. With only 60 runners, it really is like a little family, especially as it's almost the same faces that I've seen over the four races I've now done with them.

With a few miles to go, and the chance of a sub 5 gone, I worked out, if I got my ass in gear, I could attempt to complete both days in sub 10. I needed a 5.26. After a bit of umming and arghing, plus the encourage net from Carrie, Kate, Jo and Emmett, I shot of for the final two miles. They needed to be sub 13min/mile pace. I soon past Kaja and Jagjit, Jagjit asking if I was on my last lap. I guess it seemed a bit crazy to be running as hard as I was. I felt comfortable and it was nice to open the legs.

I took the bell to indicate my last lap and saw I was in the 10min/mile pace. Happy days. I was running two hundred steps then fast walking one hundred. With around half a mile to go, I saw Carrie catching me, she had decided to get it over and done with. Just as she caught me during my walking break, I was running again. Carrie had ran the whole lap up to this point. With the final short hill walked it was the finishing straight. We ran it together until I decided to go for a sprint finish. Finish four seconds in front of Carrie with a 5.21.11!! I had completed the double in 9.54.24. A double pb by some 45 minutes!

I would like to thank Karen, Foxy and Cameroon, for all their hardwork over the weekend. We just had to run, they had to count 60 runners 34 times around the lake in every weather imaginable. They had to deal with the logistics of changing venue to allow the marathons to happen. They made sure we were safe and happy, we got hugs and Foxy even handed me a Jaffa cake during the race!
I'd also like to thank the guys who were handing out water and help pick up the empty bottles.
Finally, I'd like to thank all those who support me and those who have sponsored me. You help me achieve my dreams!

My two medals

Carrie with her medal.


  1. Great job mate & thanks for all your help over the weekend. Foxy

  2. Thanks again for not laughing at me when I cried. Thanks for the post marathon hug. Thanks for saving me from myself! And thanks for being a good mate x