Reaching the half century
By Karen (Kaz) Hurrell, 30 August 2011 –
Sunday saw my 50th finish at marathon distance or beyond and fittingly it was at another of Foxy's Enigma races - the Enigma Gold - and another 7.5 laps of Caldecotte Lake. Whilst not a great day for spectators (or anyone wishing to enjoy fine Bank Holiday weather) it was pretty good for marathon running, and certainly far more pleasant than the hot and humid conditions we had on the lake for the Good Friday Enigma! Foxy had added a certain spice to the mix by having gold, silver and bronze medals to aim for. Silver and gold were always going to be well beyond my reach but sub-5 for a bronze was more than do-able, especially with the weather in my favour and with confidence levels being somewhat raised at present. Beyond that I definitely wanted another season's best which meant sub 4.46. But most of all I wanted to make my 50th a really enjoyable experience.
As always I set off like a whippet out of a trap (a slow whippet that is!) thinking 'I must slow down, this is a silly pace' and 'hmm, why didn't I work out what time I want to be doing each lap in?' and the myriad of odd thoughts that pop into your head at times like these!
Around the beginning of the second lap I decided to aim for 35 minute laps and see how long I could keep that going and then review targets as and when I needed to. As each lap ticked by I was surprisingly still comfortably hitting target pace (give or take a minute) and still finding myself occasionally thinking 'mm not sure I should be doing a 9 minute mile at this point in a marathon'! I went through half-way in around 2.15 and began to think of targets around the 4.35/4.40 mark. Tbh I was somewhat gobsmacked by how well it was all going and was definitely waiting for that dreaded moment when the wheels fall off the wagon in a big way. As it turned out the wheels wobbled and slowed down a bit but certainly not the dramatic or cataclysmic moment I was expecting!
By the start of the 6th lap (with c7 miles to go) I was thinking about dropping my target to 40 minute laps for the last two laps but decided it would be better to just modify to 'aim for 35 but 40's ok'. I really wanted to keep around that magic 35 minute figure and though I knew that my legs were beginning to tire and it was much less likely to happen I didn't want to revise my targets by much as I needed to trick my brain into keeping my legs moving! I just didn't want to give my legs or brain the easy option of deliberately slowing. I'd still not had to resort to run/walk and this was definitely becoming a big thing for me having never been able to run the whole of a marathon before. Now to be fair I did have brief stops at the checkpoint to grab a drink and food but that was it - no walking up the slopes or any of the other run/walk tactics I usually do.
Believe me by those last two laps I was like a woman possessed - my only thoughts were about my time and keeping running!!
I should have got to the end of lap 6 in 3.56 but it was actually 3.59 when I got back to round to the checkpoint. Quick slug of coke and then it was off for the final lap on the 4 hour mark which made for very easy maths - something which is very handy by that stage in a marathon!!! That last lap seemed to go on forever and though I could see the minutes ticking by I knew I'd finish in a time I'd be more than happy with. It was just a case of how happy! I still harboured hopes of 4.40 and though I managed to pick up a little pace in the last mile or so it just wasn't quite enough. In the end I crossed the line in 4.41.27 tired, emotional but a very happy camper.
During the race my thoughts returned to my very first marathon back in April 2001. I remember vividly how amazing the experience was and how surprised I was to be so disappointed when I turned onto the Mall and could see the finish - all I could think was 'I don't want this to end' and for two pins I'd have done a Forrest and kept going. It seems like a lifetime ago yet it's so nice to still feel that way now and then!!