Enigma Quadzilla 2012
This was all about preparation for the 10 in 10. 4 marathons in 4 days, each consisting of 7.5 laps around Caldecotte Lake in Milton Keynes. I was not looking forward to monotony of the laps, nor the weather!
Things started badly on Thursday morning. I left home in plenty of time and then got most of the way along the A3 to the M25 before I realised that I’d forgotten my laptop. I could live without it, but decided to go back and get it. That lead to a rather fraught journey and arriving at Caldecotte Lake at around 9:45, with very little time to get ready before the race. I quickly grabbed my number, dashed into the loo to fill up some bottles with water to make up my drinks, applied vaseline and was ready in the nick of time. Had I had more time to think about it, I might have put more clothes on – it was bitterly cold and I was in short tights, a helly baselayer and a t-shirt over that, hat and gloves. Nearly everyone else seemed to be wearing tights or tracksters and jackets. Hmm. It turned out that whilst I was cold, it didn’t bother me too much, and I settled into approx 8:30 min/miles and enjoyed myself. In fact for a while, I had to concentrate on keeping the pace down and taking it easy. The lake was frozen in places, there was snow on the grass and patches of ice on the path, but nothing too hairy. I ran on and off with Keith Luxon (fellow 10 in 10 competitor) and Malcolm Collins (previous 10 in 10 runner) who were both great company.
Day 1 done in 3:46:11
By the end I was feeling really cold so it was lovely to be able to get into the Premier Inn and check in. I ran a cold bath and lasted about 2 mins before deciding that subjecting oneself to a cold bath after being outside in the cold for hours was rather ridiculous, so had a hot shower instead. After a recovery shake I headed into the adjoining pub to meet lots of the other runners and had the biggest burger I’ve ever seen in my life:
I couldn’t finish it
After that I headed off to a local running shop to buy a pair of tights.. I’d brought some for recovery to wear when not running, but wanted a pair to run in due to the cold. Back to the hotel, a bit of a chillout and then some spaghetti and a beer for dinner. I had a quick visit from James Elson who came to return my Garmin 310XT, which he’d been using in the Rocky Raccoon 100 last weekend. The subject of much of the conversation that evening was around the snow which was coming down and what that would do to the condition of the course..
Sure enough, when I got up on Sat morning, it was completely white outside. I took this picture of one of the early start runners whilst I was tucking into sausage and eggs for breakfast..
I was very pleased I’d bought the tights, but I felt like I was wearing too much – tights, shorts, baselayer, t-shirt, jacket, hat & gloves. Still very cold though. Off we went at 10 and I just couldn’t warm up. I think, in hindsight, the jacket was a bad idea. It’s just an asics rain jacket, but it seemed to trap moisture inside it. After a while I was cold and wet underneath it and stayed that way. I’d also decided on wearing trail shoes due to the snow, but refrained from putting my yaktrax on (some others did use them). Luckily the snow was fresh and was melting quite quickly on the paths, partly due to the footfall. It was a grey day, cold and windy in places and that together with the heavier shoes just made me feel tired and cold. My pace was between 9 and 9:30 min/mil for most of the day and I decided not to push it.
Day 2 done in 4:07:07
The hot bath afterwards was lovely, and I enjoyed drinking my recovery shake whilst getting warm. I had scampi, chips and mushy peas for lunch (yum!) and then headed off for my pre-booked sports massage nearby. That was superb – an hour of attention on my legs and back and everything felt much better for it. Back in the pub that evening for a few pints and a lovely lasagne and I was feeling nice and chilled out and confident of a better day 3. The only bad thing was the potential for the snow left on the paths to freeze overnight..
Up just before 8 on Sat and feeling good. My legs were feeling a little tender from the massage, but not at all stiff. That, coupled with the fact that the sun was out and the knowledge that my wife and kids were going to be visiting later on and I was feeling good. I saw the 8:30 runners off and had another nice brekky and loads of coffee I left the jacket in my bag in case I needed it later, but kept the tights on. Back in road shoes too, which was good. I started well – sub 9’s – and decided just to crack on with that. I decided to put my ipod on for the first time to take away some of the monotony of the laps and listen to a bit of Game of Thrones.. The only bad thing during the run was that I slipped on some ice whilst turning a corner (I was a bit absorbed in the audiobook) and went flying, scraping my right elbow and hip and bashing (somehow) my left knee. I got up and soldiered on, but was limping and had to slow down. Nothing serious though, as after a mile or so, I was back in sub-9s again and put it out of my mind. It wasn’t until I finished (and saw my family – yay!) that the bloody lump on my knee was pointed out to me
Day 3 done in 3:50:56
My kids had a play in the snow whilst I showered and then we had lunch in the pub. Chicken burger this time. Not too shabby. Also had a double espresso and a pint of Old Speckled Hen As we got up to leave the pub, a lady asked me to turnaround so she could read the back of my hoodie (about the 10 in 10) and she gave me a tenner. Brilliant After a bit Rena and the kids headed home, but with the promise of returning on Sunday to see me finish My brother came over to the pub in the evening for a pint, which was nice. I imagine he found it a little odd to be surrounded by lots of people who talk about nothing but running. Oh well Chicken Tikka Massala with rice and naan for tea. I was able to arrange a late checkout for Sunday, so I didn’t have to pack that evening. I did do something daft though and trim my toenails, which set off a bit of a sore big toe thing. I’ve suffered with ingrown toenails on and off forever and even had surgery as a teen but there’s still one that occasionally gets a bit sore.
Up at 8 again and down for brekky to discover that around half the field had opted for the early start. It was never on the cards for me – I like my sleep too much. Cooked brekky again and feeling rather stiff, particularly my left knee which I had bashed the day before, and my sore big toe was still sore Nothing to do but man up and get on with it. I wore compression socks under the Ronhill tracksters that Rena had brought up for me on Sat, and a baselayer and t-shirt (and hat and gloves). The first half a mile was comical – I was limping, stiff and feeling rubbish. However, it’s amazing how things slot into place once warmed up. My toe stopped bothering me, my knee stopped hurting and I generally loosened off. I knew I didn’t have the strength for as good a run as on Sat though, but was content that it wouldn’t be a total trainwreck. My pace flitted about between 9-9:30 min/mil and I just ground it out. I had foolishly run out of my usual energy drink mix so had to use some lucozade sport. The cherry flavour was nice at first but it quickly became overly sweet and cloying. Thankfully it was at least cold! At around 16 miles I saw Rena and the kids and stopped for some hugs and then ground out those last few laps. The finish was superb and the kids got big wet hugs from me and posed for photos
Day 4 done in 4:04:20
That’s a cumulative time of 15:48:34 and an average time of 3:57:09
Whilst I showered, the kids all got into my bed and watched a bit of ‘Muppets from Space’ on the telly in my room. A few goodbyes and it was time to head home..
A few of the things I’ve learnt from this..
- If you look after yourself and do things right (recovery, fuel, etc), the body can do amazing things. I could have run another marathon today.
- I felt a million times better on Sat after that massage than on Friday or Sunday. In May, I must make sure I get my time with the physios!
- Some people are arseholes and won’t even step aside to share a path. Others are amazing, wonderful people who’ll spend hours in the cold supporting nutters running round a lake all day.
- I’m not going to set myself any goals in terms of pace/times for May.
In addition, I’d like to thank Foxy for organising this, all his helpers and all the other runners and supporters over the 4 days. You’re all amazing.