The heat will be a permanent feature of our quest, yesterday's temperatures got topped once more. This must be some record breaking heatwave, I certainly have not seen anything like this in Ireland in my time. But it has to be said that most people seem to be coping fairly well, though there are a few exceptions to that.
I wandered up to the start line for the early start (slower runners can start at 3, to avoid having people out there until after midnight [which did happen]), and world record holder Traviss Willcox put my mind at ease regarding the shin, "it's just a little tendon, no big deal, will sort itself out". That really made a big difference to my anxiety levels, I'm fine with a certain amount of discomfort; it's an injury that would throw me out of the competition that I fear.
There didn't seem too much enthusiasm to get going at 5, we all knew how tough today would be and everyone was a bit anxious. We had a good group over from the UK marathon club, and their banter did much to loosen the otherwise rather tense pre-start atmosphere.
Once I got going the shin settled down very quickly. I eased into the first mile, as ever, but then found myself doing fairly decent pace with Paddy Quinn, a veteran from last year's 24 hrs race, and we ran the first 5 miles together. I think the fact that I ran entirely on my own yesterday had some influence on my slow time, it really does help to have someone setting the pace, otherwise I'm just doing my survival shuffle. Unfortunately Paddy slowed down after 5 miles and I was on my own again. I kept going and by mile 9 I caught up with Dipak who was on his second lap due to the early start, though he certainly has the pace for the faster start. We ran in close proximity for the rest of the lap, and I went through the halfway point a minute quicker than yesterday, and since I did not require an emergency pitstop I reckoned I was at least 2 minutes ahead of yesterday.
I have been getting slower each day, most of that undoubtedly related to the mounting fatigue, though the heat certainly has a part to play as well. I really wanted to break that sequence today and at that point I was very confident that I was going to do so. However, I had made a serious mistake. Between miles 9 and 13 I had 2 bottles of Lucozade, one rocket ice lolly and one freeze pop (my policy up to that point was never to say no to assistance), and by mile 15 I think I was heading for a serious sugar crash. By mile 16 I felt completely dead on my feet, I could hardly maintain 10-minute-miles and I had serious doubts about finishing.
However, I have been in similar situations before and started working on it. A salt tablet slowly took care of that sickly sweet feeling and I didn't take any more sugar onboard for the rest of the day. I had some very tough five miles and they were not a lot of fun and my average pace kept deteriorating at an alarming rate, so much so that I was resigned to yet another slowest time, but eventually I did manage to pull round, somewhere around mile 20 or 21. The heat lessened as well, which undoubtedly helped.
My pace increased again and I even fell into what could generously be described as a run rather than a shuffle. Compared to a few days ago the pace was still ridiculously slow, but that's what running 150 miles will do to you. I worked reasonably hard on THAT drag and had a good few strong final miles, probably closing the gap to Stu ahead by half, but nowhere near enough to catch him. The most pleasing thing was to see the average pace picking up again on the Garmin, something I haven't seen since the first day, and I really managed to beat yesterday's time by a little over 2 minutes, crossing the line in 3:46:44 (my watch), in third place once more, but very, very happy to be done.
Ritchie, the race director, told me that at one point it was 31C/85F degrees while we were out there. I don't know how accurate that was, and it felt very similar to yesterday, but it sure was hot and it sure was tough.
I did have a massage afterwards, my hamstrings and calves were so tight you could probably have played a violin solo on them. I expect to be stiff tomorrow, but I'm getting used to that. There's still a few marathons to go through and they all will be tough in the oppressive heat, but by now we can get a glimpse of the finish, far ahead as it still may be.
|Half way, with Dipak|
|Happy to be done for another day|
- 9 Jul
- Sixmilebridge 10in10 Marathon #6
3:46:44, third place