Before we set off I thought I felt pretty much the same as all the other days, with heavy legs and fatigued but no more so than should be expected after all we have just been through. However, even the first step hurt. I started with an easy first mile, as always, and in marked contrast to all of the previous 8 days the legs just would not loosen up and I never managed to get into my stride. I knew from then on that today would be ugly.
I never managed to run today. I could hardly lift my feet off the ground and only just managed to do some baby steps, pathetically shuffling my way through the County Clare countryside. This was not running any more, and quite frankly it sucked. I also realised that I would be struggling to break 4 hours today. I set out at about 8:40 pace and it started deteriorating immediately, and from the way I tended to slow down over the second loop on all the previous days I knew straight away I was in trouble.
My memory is already a bit hazy, a sign how far gone I was today, but the first half still felt somewhat okay, slow but steady progress. My stomach was acting up a bit so I decided to do another pitstop at halfway, even though I knew it was not particularly urgent. I think I just wanted to get off my feet for a bit. This caused a problem as the doors to the complex were locked and it took a while to locate the public toilets, so that took a good bit longer than I thought it would.
At my mile 14 I saw Stu coming in at halfway, and he was struggling big time with a major foot issue. He shouted something I did not quite get and I spent the rest of the loop worrying that he might have told me that he would have to pull out.
With the time for the pitstop added on to an already slow pace, things were not looking rosy, and the heat, while maybe a degree or two lower than the day before, was still rather oppressive and sure did not help. I drank plenty of water because I thought I may have been dehydrated yesterday, but the truth is that I have pushed my body to its limits and it just cannot take the abuse any more, and no eating or drinking or electrolyte tricks that I have learned over the past few years is going to make a difference in that.
Brian overtook me at mile 18 with a big smile on his face and was running so much faster than me that he had disappeared beyond the horizon in absolutely no time at all. I figured I was lucky if I only lost 10 minutes to him today (not that there is any prospect of him catching me in the overall standings, I must be about 2 hours ahead of him). I could also hear Denzil approaching from behind, and he sounded very cheery and obviously in a much better mindset than I was, so I figured he'd catch me too.
Traviss noticed that my gait had changed today, and he was absolutely correct. There are not a lot of things that escape that man.
I managed to snag an ibuprofen of someone. Now, I hate taking these things, which is why I did not take any with me onto the course myself, but I had reached the point where desperation overruled reason. It's a very dangerous game, pain is there for a very good reason and you'd better take notice, but I decided the only game in town was to get to the finish line no matter what. It took about 3 miles to kick in, much longer than I had expected, but from mile 21 or 22 onwards I suddenly was able to lift the legs again, and I was able to do something that vaguely resembled running.
I had been slower than 4 hrs pace at that point but I managed to claw back the deficit over the last few miles. I had to work hard for that, and I really don't know if that was a good idea seeing as I still have another marathon to get through, but I just could not let it go without a fight. I managed to win that fight, coming home in 3:58:27, about a minute ahead of Denzil but 2 minutes behind Brian, who obviously had started to slow down considerably over the last miles himself.
We had the exact opposite conversation to yesterday, I told him had I realised he was so close I would have run faster to catch him, and he told me had I caught him he would have had another gear left, but somehow I don't think that was the last I have heard of today's race. He sure left with a big smile on his face.
I was happy to be done, but even more relieved when Stu came home in about 4:20, having manfully struggled through a seriously tough day. I hope he will be okay for tomorrow, I cannot imagine the heartbreak if anyone of us would have to pull out at this late stage.
My achilles sent a few very painful spasms through my body today, my ankles are hurting and so are my knees, and the less said about the state of my quads the better. I think my body is trying to tell me something. In tomorrow's marathon I'll try and figure out what the message might possibly be.
- 12 Jul
- Sixmilebridge 10in10 Marathon #9
3:58:27, third 10in10 runner