This week in the run up to the booked in marathon, I was full of doubts. I had not run since Saltmarsh75 (two weeks) and was wondering if I could remember how, irrational? yes maybe but factual. Maybe entering a marathon to run two weeks after 78 miles was ambitious (ok read insane) but the word ‘coastal’ lured me in before my brain considered the practicalities. Once entered there is no going back, money had been exchanged and plans had been made and beside which maybe it would help my love of running to return (or kill it off permanently). At no point was I not going to be on the start line how it would pan out would remain to be seen.
Friday I went for a run with a couple of friends from club. 6 miles round the lanes of East Devon, should be a breeze, but I struggled. Seriously I had to walk, absolutely ridiculous. I felt ill, almost like car sickness, exactly how I felt during Saltmarsh. Frustrating and not a good sign for the marathon.
Storm Brian was on its way to Devon set to land Saturday morning, this created a headache for the run organisers, always tricky, do they put the run on? do they re route or postpone. With wind gusts of 57mph having 100 participants making their way along a narrow coastal path close to cliff edges was clearly not an option. For those of you who know the area it was meant to start at Torcross on to East Portlemouth catch the ferry across the estuary to Salcombe and then follow the path to Bantham the finish.
Thursday a new plan was put in place the start was moved to the end, Bantham to Salcombe and back and add a little on at the end should you desire to make it up to the 26.2 miles! My running buddy and I were in two/three/four minds of what to do. Should we run? Him with his dodgy knee, me with my lost running love. Should we ditch the run and run somewhere else on Sunday. Should we run just half? Oh the decisions are tough. In the end we opted to do the run, try and do the whole route in the adverse conditions with the option to bail at the turnaround point.
Saturday morning dawned and they were spot on with the weather, storm Brian had landed. We arrived at Bantham and watched walkers pass by the car looking more like Artic Explorers than Devon walkers. Eventually after much procrastination we exited the car and headed to registration battling against the wind that was blowing right in to us. We received a stern talking to when we registered about the route and the conditions and how they were set to get worse at 2pm. It was hard to imagine what worse could look like but apparently it contained more precipitation.
Off we set towards Hope Cove and the check point. The wind was interesting, it would hit us from all directions, from behind it enabled me to reach top speed and to get up the hills, mostly it came off the sea, literally blowing us off the path, staying upright was tricky, we were very lucky though that rarely was it a head wind. Every step was a battle, fighting to make progress. The buff head band was in danger of being blown off my head so I tied a knot in the end which I assume made me resemble a cross between Papa Smurf and Noddy but I was fine with that! I was trying hard not to get too warm, by Hope Cove I had taken off my rain jacket and my long sleeve top, this might have been a mistake! A mile out of Hope Cove the wind blew harder, the sky got darker, the air cooler. My running buddy who still had all his layers on asked if I wanted to put a layer back on, I declined. Then within seconds the heavens opened, I am not sure if it was hail or rain mixed with the gusting wind off the sea that made it feel like hail, but what I do know is it hurt and it was cold. There followed a manic few minutes with me trying to get my Mac back on, I tried to keep running also, I didn’t want to get cold. It was the worse weather I have been out in. Fortunately it stopped but it left us soaked and sore, the pelting left our skin feeling raw, the decision was made then that this was going to be a one way run, the thought of more of those conditions and possibly worse was not one either of us relished the thought of.
I loved the run itself, the challenge of it in those conditions, the scenery was amazing and the sea foam added to the bizarreness of it all, making it look like it was snowing at times.
The last two miles were very pleasant, good underfoot, sheltered from the wind and the sun came out. On arrival at the turn around point we notified the organisers that we would not be continuing, though I think as we sat in the sun we both questioned if this was the right decision but running buddy’s knee was sore and had been since the start. This was a blessing in disguise as neither of us are known for out sensibleness and I think without this we would have turned around and headed back in to the 100 mph winds that came later in the day, this might well have blown away my recently returned running mojo.
We got a lift back to the start, getting out of the mini bus straight in to that wind was not nice at all, making headway in to the wind was almost impossible and by the time we reached the car my brain was frozen solid in my skull like I had eaten too much ice cream. Putting on dry clothes was absolute bliss.
Challenge done, unfortunately not the full distance. I love the medal but do feel like I haven’t earned it so will not be one I shall be keeping unless of course I cross out the word marathon and replace it with 10 miles!