As always I took it very, very easy for the first mile, but I found the legs loosening up within a few minutes and then set a much more assertive pace. I felt really good for the entire first half; I thought the legs were coming round for sure and the slightly cooler temperatures would allow me to set a better time for once.
I can't quite remember what time I went through the halfway mark but it was quick enough not to meet Rik on the out-and-back section, and the third placed runner was way behind me. I thought I would easily run in the 3:30s today, maybe even in the low 3:30s. But then the energy just left me, I went from feeling great at mile 14 to dead on my feet at mile 15, and the second lap was never going to be much fun after that.
The pace dropped dramatically and the average pace deteriorated at a depressing rate. I did try to cheer myself up at mile 16.6 because that was the 200 mile mark, counting from day one, but there was not much joy to be had. From that point on I was just going through the motions, doing my ultra shuffle and basically trying to get to the finish with the least amount of energy spent.
The midges were a complete nightmare all day today. They have been a nuisance all week but today they were just relentless, I was just swarmed all the time and I did get bitten on far too numerous occasions.
To be honest, I definitely could have run faster today, and on any other occasion I would be severely annoyed with myself after such a performance, but on day 8 of a marathon series run in absolutely incredible conditions, spending the least amount of energy is a perfectly reasonable way to run, and I am entirely at peace with myself.
All week the course has been playing tricks on me, I kept finding new segments of road that used to be flat the day before and were climbing uphill all of a sudden, but by now that seems to have stabilised. I guess they ran out of climbing segments.
I have also made peace with that two-mile drag towards the finish, in fact now I'm looking forward to it on each loop, and each time I'm about to hit it I tell myself "let's do this". My least favourite part of the course is the one mile stretch between the loop and Sixmilebridge on the main road, it's psychologically hard because it is not part of the loop and I don't fancy the traffic. Unfortunately that's the one stretch we have to run four times each day, twice in each direction. I have now covered it 32 times, with 8 more to go.
I ended up with my slowest time yet, just under 3:50. Brian Ankers came home just a minute behind me. He told me had he realised I was so close he would have run faster to catch me, and I of course responded that had I known he was so close behind I would have put more effort into it and left him in the dust - all in good spirits of course.
That's 8 marathons and well over 200 miles run, and now the end is definitely getting closer. Everyone is talking about the last day already. There are 18 of us left, I really hope there won't be any more drop outs.
- 11 Jul
- Sixmilebridge 10in10 Marathon #8
3:49:14, second place