Monday, 24 March 2014

Buff Enigma Week at the Knees Day Seven - The Final One

When you look and feel your worst, but still make friends, you know they are keepers.

I didn't want to get out of bed, but the knowledge that every step I took today would take me to the finish line of this monumental challenge swayed it. 

I was up and heading to see Vixx for my pre race massage. One that helped put a spring in my step and helped me start this final race.

12 of us 7in7ers started at 8.30 rather than the normal 9.30. Giving us a chance to be finishing closer to the quicker guys. 

I set of with James and Dan on our run walk strategy. The sun was shining and spirits were high! We were to have a giggle of a day. The first initial aim, try to get past the 9.30 runners before they started. Thankfully we managed that, just. 

It was great to see Mel and Liz with their dogs, Emma was running the marathon and had made wonderful cakes! Lisa running in support with her for 18 miles! Stefan was back for the last day before MDS and Nici was running a double, her first real challenge since being knocked off her bike in November. 

It wasn't to long before the fresher legged guys and the four quick 7in7ers past us, but we were still ahead for now. 
All the public we had come across had been very supportive to us, but one lady was rather cheeky. As we walked, as best we could, a lady made the comment "aren't you supposed to be running"! Shocked, I managed to mutter," I could be boxing and you could be swimming". That set Dan off into laughter, and thankfully she didn't hear it. I wouldn't have been able to run away.

We kept up our run walk for the rest of the lap. Dan deciding we looked like the old boys from Last of the Summer Wine.
Not sure who was who?

Start of lap 3, and Fay was joining us for a lap around the lake. A welcome distraction! Having to reign Fay in, running off to quick for us three shuffling old blokes. We were son joined by Janes surprise visitor Ali. No loud ass whacks today though! 

The five of us trudged on, although the girls did start nattering, and I said to the lads, "how far will they run if we walk?". Didn't get a chance to find out. 

Every now and then Paul would pop up with his camera and get snaps. We all felt we should run when Paul had his camera out, but not on the hills. It was good to se him, and taking the sensible decision not to run day three. Brathays 10 in 10 is coming up! I know, a sensible runner. Very rare.

It was long until we were onto lap four. Fay dropped off but Ali stayed with us. Shuffling along, a bit of Monty Python quoted. Eating up the miles. Although the outside of my left knee was really playing up. Thankfully Dan had some big drugs which I gratefully took. It worked a treat. 

A few more laps knocked out, some hail fell on us and we saw plenty of the other guys as they went past. I picked up my phone, I wanted to show James and Dan a video on Goats shouting like humans. It's hilarious! Go find it on YouTube.

We chuckled along to the start of our final lap. Fay and Ali joined us again. The pace was also picking up. That finishing line was so very close now. We walked our walking stretches. One final pee in the bush for James. We ran well our running stretches. We were soon by the pub and only a few 100 metres from the finish. We were stripped down to our running tops, the pace had picked up and so had the heat. The girls took the short route to the finish as we headed off to our finish. The three amigos! Or the old boys above!

James wanted us to do the Can-Can across the line. Initially Dan and myself weren't convinced. Dan thought he might not be able to lift his leg high enough, I thought I would lead with the wrong foot and kick one of them. We did however manage to organize ourselves, and as we came up to the line, we Can-Canned! A fun way to finish an enjoyable marathon and probably my first negative split marathon!! We were home in 6.27! 

It was hugs a plenty as we received our final medal and trophy for completing the 7in7 challenge. Bubbles were drank and pictures a plenty! We had done it.

Thank you Dan and James for the brilliant company. It made the challenge a little easier to deal with. Thank you to Fay, Jane and Ali for joining us over the last two days. Thank you to Vixx for the rub downs.

A massive thank you to Karen and Foxy, for putting on a brilliant event. You looked after us really really well. Top top people.

I shall write another blog in a few days covering the whole event. But for now it's time to relax a little.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Buff Enigma Week at the knees Day Six - The Musical Boobies One

Relentless forward progress.

I'm starting to fall apart. I can't really complain though. What was I expecting to happen after 6 consequetive marathons?

The day started off with a massage from Vixx, who had kindly come down for the weekend to help us runners sort out our tired and beaten legs. It really helped and made standing on the start line easier. Although I was a bit behind on breakfast, but I had agreed to walk with James.

We are back at Caldecotte to run two days the normal route, so we walked down to the start line. Albeit casually.

James and I set out at the back, nursing our tired and beaten legs. The plan was to do 16min/mile pace. So we were off.

A good steady first lap saw us just 22secs off the pace, no worries. Not far into the second lap, we decided on a little run and got ahead if our pace. Also realising that our legs would allow us to run. Unfortunately not Gazelle like, as per the beginning of the week. But they were moving forward quicker than a walk. Just.

Start of the third lap and Fay had joined us for a walk when we heard this almighty smack! James had a look of anger and surprise on his face. Which quickly went, when he realised it was his running friend Jane! It was a loud smack. Right on the ass cheek.

Fay and Jane stayed with us, Fay dropping away after the weir. Jane and James had a good catch up, and we ran some more. We were slowly developing a good run walk strategy for the course. 

I also learnt about the Musical Boobies. Jane was wearing a running pack where on the front she had two speakers inside the drinks holder. Great idea, and I may have to try it myself!

James and I carried on going around and around the lake, now run walking. Jane would join us for a lap and Fay would walk with us for a bit. It all really helped and eventually we got day six done.

Vixx was at hand again and we both enjoyed a good leg massage afterwards.
Just the single marathon to go now and this huge challenge will be completed!

Finished the day in 6.39

Buff Enigma Week at the Knees Day Five - The Tough One

Four seasons in one day.
The day started good! It was sunny and I felt physically and mentally good. So much so, I thought I may pee a few people off being so happy!! 

This was to be the last day at Furzton Lake, and it was to be an eventful one!! 
We had two people running in fancy dress. No I don't mean Armani suits, more Big Red Fire Extinguisher and a Bright White Lighthouse! Cue the jokes.

Photo Courtsey of Ruth Benzema.

I was fortunate enough to start the race and enjoy a few of the early laps with Paul Mason. Paul is running the Brathays 10 in 10 this May and was coming back from injury. My plan was the same as the day before, run a lap, walk a lap. We set off as per plan. 

After lap two, Paul stopped to get his gloves as I started to run. Here's where it might have gone wrong?! I ran to what I thought was comfortable, but it was also at speed. Back at that 9.30min/mile pace. It felt easy so I didn't stress about. At the end of the lap, my stomach felt a bit uncomfortable, but it was walk time. 

During this walking point I realised I had pushed to hard. Having to divert to the toilet to make a long distance conference call. Whoops. Back out of the toilet and pub, I opted to walk the next lap.

Fortunately I was with Xan. After spending most of the day before with his partner Cat, it was nice to spend time together as well. Plus Cat was running like it was day one! 

From this point in, Xan and myself ran walked the course. The wind was picking up, the clouds were building, our feet were hurting.

One of the good things about Furzton and it's short laps is the opportunity to see all the runners. As you lose count how many times Steve zooms past, you see Karen and Foxy, plus the food and drink table more often, Teresa (the important part of Team Edwards) is always there to hand you a drink and some encouragement.

Not only did we have the fancy dress, David Barr was running his 100th marathon. This is becoming a common occurrence and is a real sign that I've got in with a bad crowd! Endorphin Pushers!!

We also had Annas birthday to celebrate, and the cake was teasing me every lap, so every time I saw Anna, I asked when could we have cake?!

The Silson Joggers were back to run their second days. Running together, they were easy to spot. I think one of them is colour blind, kept mixing his compression calf guards up. Pink and green together?! Or maybe one signifies left foot the other right? ;) 
They did very well, sticking together with a great pace over the two days. Although their complaints of it hurting on day two, fell on deaf ears. Sorry guys.

With a few laps to go, we were treated to a military helicopter landing on the course, well to the side of it. I was half expecting men dressed head to toe in black to jump out, swipe away a runner and fly off. All on the basis that the runner was some dodgy criminal underworld boss. Not that I think any of them are actually like this? But I have seen a few making calls while running and are pretty quick to! Not mentioning any names Rik and Paul.

Xan and I did get to enjoy a rainbow, and after Xan finished his last lap, I got to enjoy another one, unfortunately, I had to have the 10 minutes of peeing down rain first!

Tired legs and body lead to a 6.17 marathon.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Buff Enigma Week at the Knees Day Four - The Hump One

57.2% Done!
Today was the first of two days at Furzton Lake. With it being the smallest of lakes, it's the one that seems like it will take an eternity. Unlike Willen and Caldecotte, which are 7 laps, Furzton is 17! Now I know what you are thinking, sod that. But personally, I think it may be my favourite lake. Despite the fact it has a tough little roller coaster bit to it every lap, and yesterday's hurricane force wind (authors artistic licence used), you do get to see much more of each other while running.

Day 3 I had picked up two blisters, which I managed to treat with surgical spirit. One had gone and one was on the retreat. A change of trainers and I felt good to run.

Four friends joined the race today for the day. It was fantastic to see Carrie,Carl, Mel and May ( May is doing the final 4)and it really lifted my spirits. The proverbial spring back into my step. However I was keen on the wind which seemed as powerful as being inside a tornado. (More licence, not been in a tornado, plane or twister)

We were off, I'd like to say that I flew out the gate all keen and had to rein myself in, but day 4 of 7, there was no risk of that!

My plan for the day was to run a lap, walk a lap. Repeat until Karen said I was done. Easy. Sort of.

After lap two, I needed a wee, so I had to trot off to the pub. How easy it would've been to stay there!! However I didn't, I went to my car, for headache tablets. Managing to avoid all temptation to regain my sanity!

Due to my enforced break and slow shuffle (which when I talk to the grand kids in 40 years, will be running like a gazelle across the open plains of the Serengeti, being chased by the lions, Steve, Jeremy and Rik!), Cat wasn't far behind lapping me. Her plan was the same as mine, but was doing walk then run and repeat. 

It seemed only right to natter and chatter again. From this point onwards I think other than the odd break, we ran walked together. Although I was a lap down. 

Inbetween our jolly going round and round the lake we would be joined by other runners for periods of time. Having a good catch up and cuddles with Mel, little chats with Carl and Carrie as they pushed on. May joined us on hers and Cats last laps. 

Once those guys finished, I thought I would catch Marathon Man, Trent. He was actually behind me, but my legs were feeling great, and it was an opportunity to see what was under me, so I shot off after the two ladies finished.

Now, bear in mind there was now 100 miles of running (sort of) in my legs. I some how managed to get into a 9.30min/mile pace. Comfortably my fastest pace for probably the last two marathons. I couldn't believe how good my legs felt. I soon caught Trent, where I had planned to have a little chat, but looking at my watch, realised I might just squeeze sub 6. So like a man possessed I blurted out a hello and carried on. Then remembered the hill! (Which feels more like Everest every lap) Naturally I walked most of it, I'm not stupid! 

Before getting to the top, I surprised myself and started running again. I bashed out the last few 100 metres and finished 71 seconds I believe over the sub 6. But I didn't care, I was back and four marathons out of seven done!! 6.01

It was great to see Rik Vercoe complete is 300th marathon. Steve Edwards was steady again today. Really is Mr Consistent. Jeremy not to far behind running in unknown territory like myself.

I must also say hello to the Silson Joggers. Somebody really does read this!! Stop yawning! 

I never thought I'd say this, but bring on day five!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Buff Enigma Week at the Knees Day Three - The Enjoyable One

First day at Caldecotte.
Day three morning started with me feeling tired but determined. It was the first of three days at Caldecotte lake, but we were running it in reverse, Anticlockwise. The wind was a bit choppy, so I opted to wear my jacket. 

Starting off with Foxy running again, we did a small loop before the main loop and I was surprised that although I felt tired, the legs felt good. That put a smile onto my face. 

I spent the first lap chatting to the odd runner and realising I was getting to warm. So end of lap one and jacket off. 

I was then joined by Cat, who had picked up a packet a crisps but then seemed to Palm them off to everyone rather than eat them?! We chatted for a good lap and a half until I struggled to digest my bacon rasher crisps. 

I wasn't to be alone for long, as Kate was soon closing me down. We chatted for a good half a lap, but her relentless running was just to much for me. So I dropped off when we caught Martin and Traviss. 

I spent the best part of a lap and a half chatting with Traviss, and had even managed to order a pint of coke, thank you David. I did the majority of the next lap happily on my own, fully aware that day three was going to be the enoyable one.

Not long into the penultimate lap, I was rejoined by Cat. She was doing well considering she had decided to run naked (without a watch). We chatted for a little while until Vicky caught up. Cat went on to finish day three as Vicky and myself still had a lap and a bit to complete.

Vicky got a massive PB yesterday of 30 mins, so it was nice to catch up and chat. Especially as we are local to each other. I also naively thought Vicky would be pleased to plod to the finish with me, but nope, she got me running again. 

We had a really good catch up on the way around to the finish, our lives intermingled unknowingly. Sort of. Without Vicky cracking the proverbial whip, I would've slipped to over 6 hours, thankfully though we came home ten minutes slower than day two at 5.56!

Thank you to everyone for the conversation, it really helps the miles go.

On a bonus, the £2014 target has now been beaten and I shall need to think of a new one!

Buff Enigma Week at the Knees Day Two - Oma's Marathon

Same course, different run. 
After yesterday's cramp issues and going off to fast, I changed the plan. I settled into a good early pace, took on salts and enjoyed myself. Like yesterday though, the second half was to be harder than the first. 

The weather wasn't as nice as day one, and on the far side of the lake, it was very windy with a head wind to deal with. My quads were starting to ache. Probably due to not ice bathing on day one! At around mile 18 it became a real mental battle. If this was day two of a double, I would've bashed the miles out to get it done. Unfortunately it's day two of seven which required me to be sensible!

I went inside myself to review the build up into the event. The last few weeks haven't been to plan, which made me think upon recent events, or more so my Oma and Opa (grandmother and grandfather). They had been married 66 years until the recent passing of my Oma. With them in my thoughts, I realised I shouldn't be dull and glum. I'm very fortunate to be able to do what I love. That's when the sweepstake idea popped into my head! See my Facebook!

Running was still tough but I had a spring back in my step, so much so, I swept the course of markers on my final lap. Crossing the line with Kaja. 5.46

It was tough but probably the most sensible race I've ran. This one was for you Oma! X

Monday, 17 March 2014

Buff Enigma Week at the Knees Day One - The Easy One

They say no two marathons are the same, and today I found that out. Of course, I kind of knew that having done 23 previous ones. But there is always more to learn.

Having set myself a plan for the day, which was basically to run comfortably for around a 5 hour marathon, I made the rookie mistake of going out to fast. With the weather nice and sunny and the enthusiasm of it being day 1, I set off in the middle of the group and ran without checking my pace with my Garmin. Just running on feel. 

Initially I thought this would be a good way to run. Just listening to the body. Unfortunately, after 3 miles, I checked my watch and saw I was running at a sub 4 hour marathon pace. That wasn't going to happen and I'll pay for that later. It took me until past the half marathon mark (2.02) to settle into where I should've been. 

With the sun no longer beating down as hard as the first few hours I worked on my second half strategy. Trying to recover the damage from the first half. This involved walking which I started to do around mile 16-17. A nice quick walk that allowed me to stretch the legs and let them recover. It also created opportunities to chat to some of the other runners as they started to catch and pass me.

That's where my competitive side kicks in. Seeing people go past as I slip down the finishers list. I spent most of that time reminding myself of the challenge. Time is important, doing the 7 marathons is the challenge. 

After having a good stretch out and talking with Traviss, I set off into a run walk strategy. With the thinking of not stressing the legs. Unfortunately though, I was starting to get cramp in my calfs. What was frustrating was I had maintained good fluid and had been take my salt tablets. But obviously not enough. See, more learning. 

Eventually I got through day one in a pleasing and pretty much in target 5.10. With things to adapt for day two, I was very pleased and would say day one was a success and I was exactly where I want to be. 

Although I must say, trying to manage myself across the distance when you are normally up against the clock, rather than this challenge, made it tough. As you can read, it took me a long time to settle into the correct pace. 

Any how, day two awaits!