I promised in my last blog that I’d do a quick recap of what happened in the summer prior to the Beachy Head Marathon, so with 10 days until Christmas let’s make a brief return to the days of warm sunshine and longer daylight hours.
The post I’d written prior to my last one touched on the fact that I’d felt pretty lousy during the Medway 10k, and what followed was three frustrating weeks out of action thanks to a persistent cough that cost me the opportunity for some parkrun tourism and a run along the canals during a weekend in Birmingham. I also had to defer my place in the North Downs 30k which was a race I’d really been looking forward to, but at least I was able to get in two solid months training during July and August in preparation for my Autumn races.
Eridge 10 Miles
First up was an old favourite, an undulating but fabulously scenic trail run in the grounds of a private estate near Tunbridge Wells. With the New Forest Marathon the following weekend this was an opportunity to enjoy the surroundings and not worry too much about pace, with the added bonus of cake and beer at the finish, and what’s not to like about that?
New Forest Marathon
The weekend didn’t get off the best of starts when we broke down on the M3! Fortunately the man from Green Flag got us going again and we were on our way to our overnight stay in Southampton before too long. (As a postscript when my garage eventually figured out what the problem was it cost me £800 to have it fixed…..😧)
The race itself was superb. The route was primarily on trails, with a few tarmac stretches between the trail sections, and having never visited the forest properly it was great to be able to see it as I went around and I’d definitely like to visit again for a proper look around. The course was undulating but with no serious climbs, the weather was dry, sunny and warm (but not too warm) and I was more than happy with a 4:26 finish. I’d definitely recommend this one if you’re looking for a late summer marathon, it’s great for a weekend away, or an extended break like we did, with a few days on the Isle of Wight afterwards.
Saxons, Vikings and Normans Cardiac Challenge
A midweek challenge event in Shorne Woods near Gravesend, one of many events put on throughout the year by my friends Traviss and Rachel. Basically the events are multi-lap and you can run as many as you like within a specified time period (usually up to 6 hours) with the maximum distance usually around 30 miles or so. With the Beachy Head Marathon looming the ‘attraction’ of a hilly course made this seem like ideal preparation, particularly the ascent of Cardiac Hill on each lap! This a long section with steps that I ended up climbing 6 times, and with the rest of each lap including some other decent climbs I was pretty worn out after 6 laps and 16.7 miles so called it a day and collected my legendary SVN goody bag (no healthy stuff – a huge slab of chocolate,along with crisps and assorted other naughty stuff!)
Great South Run
Another one that’s been on my bucket list of races to do for a while. Being the week before Beachy Head I’d felt I should back off but ended up pushing a bit harder and came home in 1:18. It was a superb event, I’d heard good things about and wasn’t disappointed. It was great to run around the historic dockyard and past HMS Victory, and again I got lucky with the weather. One I think I’ll be doing again in the future.
And that was it, and having just mentioned a race in Portsmouth that’s where I’m heading off to again next weekend, for another race I’ve had my eye on for a while, the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon, which looks like a lovely scenic run around Langstone Harbour to Hayling Island and back. Apparently it’s flat and multi-terrain, and the views are good as long as the weather is OK, which certainly isn’t a given in December, but the early forecasts don’t look to bad.
I’m not planning to chase a time, just enjoy the experience and see what happens, and I’ll be back with an update on the race next week hopefully.