Sunday 25 September 2016


#156  Rocky  Milton Keynes  4:24
#157  Night Phoenix  Walton Upon Thames  5:44

Lots of Bling
I had 10 days or so to complete 52 in 52 (just a personal challenge) before my marathon count started going south as I had done a lot from Oct 1st on wards in 2015 and during September when I got married I had done none. I knew if I didn't complete it this weekend my last chance would be next weekend in Monaghan but anything could happen and I was really trying hard to get it over with quickly.

I was just coming off a completely rubbish run at the Tolkein Ultra and I knew my legs were shot. I have run a few double marathons as part of ultras so two in a day should be no problem should it? How wrong was I.

I knew this was going to be a long day but it was only one day. 4:45am the alarm went off but I was already up and stuffed some breakfast into me and it was off to Milton Keynes for the the first installment. It was 1.5hr drive to Caldcotte  lakes and I knew the road quite well. This is not my favorite course but today it suited and the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the release of Rocky 1 attracted me.  I arrived in plenty of time.

Now my strategy for today's first run was predicated on me having enough time to get to Walton on Thames afterwards and at the same time not kill myself. Given I was in bits after the Tolkein run it was amazing that I was here at all. I decided I wanted to go no slower than 5hrs and no faster than 4:30. That should give me enough time to travel to the next venue. There was actually a double on today at the lakes but I had chosen a different path. The run was 7.5 laps round the lake. The weather was due to be warm in the early 20's Centigrade and sunny.  I lathered on the sun cream and had on my trusty old worn out Hokas and Injinji socks (both of which stayed on all day).

Great medal
 At 8:30 we were off. I went off steady feeling a lot better than the Tolkein run. I was through 10K in just under the hour and was running pretty much by myself for most of the day. 2:04 saw the half marathon and I decided I needed to slow down a bit as it was going to be a long enough day. I therefore forced myself to go slower and started talking to anyone that would listen and walking every incline I could see. I spent some time with Karen Summerville who was a bit worried about her own two in one day but I hope I encouraged her as she looked really comfortable and it would be no bother. She would go on to do a negative split on her daily marathons. We also discovered that today was both our 156th and 157th marathons and we had well over 25 years cumulative experience since we did our first. Brian Mills who was party to our celebrations was not impressed.

I eventually finished in 4:24 which was faster than I anticipated and when over the line got the most gorgeous sip of ice cold coke form Noel Kennan (from Monaghan roots) who had been running amazing all week in his own challenge and was soon coming up to his own 50th marathon.

I didn't hang around and got straight in the car. I had 2.5hrs to get to the start line in Walton Upon Thames. Easy Peasy I thought, that was until I hit the traffic jam that is the M25. 2hrs 10 mins later I arrived in Walton and by the time I registered and stuffed my face with pasta I had 5 mins before the start. My legs at this point had given up and I hobbled to the start.

Closed Phoenix Medal
This event was part of a double itself and as we started at 3:30pm people were still finishing up from their own morning event TOP GRUN. There were a few there that I knew that were doing their own double so I felt in good company. I spent the first two laps in the company of Enda Cleary from Monistereven. Pace was hardly blistering at 11 minute miles but we had 6hrs to complete the course. We were also obliged from 6pm to take a head torch as that was dusk. It was 8 out and backs along the tow path for a marathon.

The first 10K was in 1:15 or 5hr marathon pace. My legs had been screaming at me from the start. My heart rate also seemed high for the effort that I was putting in (175). That was something that I would have to monitor but thankfully it settled down. This was easily the worst stiffness that I have ever experienced and I had thoughts of not making the cut-off.

I felt that If I managed a 2:30 first half I could crawl home. Some were not taking it as serious and Enda headed off after 3 laps (but only got credited for 1) and there were lots of 99's and lollies and even pints being drunk on the course. It was easy to see those that had only one race today as the sped past everyone.

Open Phoenix medal 
One of the big advantages of this course is that you meet everyone twice a lap so it is very sociable and there is lots of encouragement. The aid station is also passed often and has everything including Haribo mini men which is my favorite.

2:35 saw me through half way and the head torch came on.  I normally enjoy running in the dark but I was in so much pain this time that the fun was curbed somewhat and it really became a count down the laps excruciating exercise. Some people like Jon Carson were running great and there were regular finishers from 3:30 on wards. Soon there were few of us left and it was dark but camaraderie was great and I got regular high fives from Costas and made sure to say hello and encourage Emine who had expressed worry about the dark bits (and there were dark bits).

I had 2 laps left to go and 1:55 to do it so knew that I was Ok for cut off but had really slowed to a
Aid Station
jog/death march pace and the legs had not improved. I never was so glad in my life to go out on my last lap and managed to make it home in 5:44. This is my slowest marathon by far but I have to say one of the toughest.

Definitely doing 2 marathons in one day with a 2hr drive in between is more difficult than a double marathon in an ultra. But I got it done and complete 52 in 52 and can now go on and try some less silly personal challenges.

There were very few phots taken today.

Strava results for today.

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