I have to confess to be feeling a little bit weary after a few running/volunteering days but I’ve achieved so much and learned a lot!
From Saturday through to Wednesday, Saxons, Vikings & Normans Marathons & Challenges held a five day series of events at Cyclopark and what with it being so local, how could I resist not being involved 😉
Two of the events (the Gothic and Valentine’s Challenges), I had participated in last year so I gave those a miss and I’m running in a Music Legend Challenge later in the year, so I went for the Olympic Challenge and the Unusual Suspects Challenge on the Saturday and Monday respectively.
Saturday’s route was a 5.25 mile lap from base camp up to one end of the outer park, then all the way down to the other end and back to base. It’s a route I use a lot for my own training so I’m very familiar with it and that’s not necessarily a good thing! I was determined to complete the marathon distance on Saturday because I knew not doing so but still presumably having run a reasonable distance would impact on how far I’d be capable of running on the Monday.
We started out on a chilly grey Saturday morning but as the laps progressed, the wind picked up and the rain started. I have now set myself an SVN benchmark whereby no event can be less than half marathon distance so after three laps a decision had to be made. Doing a fourth meant a fifth could not be ignored. But then another little carrot had been dangled in front of me at the run briefing. Traviss advised that a half lap after the fifth lap would be an ultra marathon and a sixth lap a 50k ultra marathon. I knew the latter would not happen but I was very determined to go passed the full marathon. I had very much regretted not taking up this opportunity at the Soul Cake Day Challenge back in November at Margate but the thought of another 6k down the Westgate sea wall and back was just too much. After having my card clipped for the fifth time and a double check that the half lap would mean an ultra, off I set. It was probably the hardest and slowest part of my run that day but I did it and one of 2017’s outstanding goals was achieved!
Sunday was spent very quietly and involved a lot of stretching before I set out again on Monday. The lap for this challenge was shorter, 3.75 miles and involved the upper part of Cyclopark plus a nice incline up towards Jeskyns and back. A “long” half meant four laps so the mind games kicked in, ie, two laps in and it was “next time I’m here will mean only once more” followed by “the next time will be the last one”. But then comes the “I can do one more” followed by “well I might as well do six although then I’ll have to do seven” and thus I managed another marathon! On the last lap I had company in the form of my August “ten in ten” co-conspirator, Lynne, who had been volunteering. That made it a lot easier, that and the fact the sun was shining!
I came away with two very shiny (and huge) bits of run bling, plus copious amounts of chocolate and a very big smile on my face.
But then on Tuesday and Wednesday, I took my turn to volunteer. I’m very much of the mind that if other people give up their time to allow me to participate in such events, then I should help out if I have the opportunity. And this is when I learned so much, not just about what happens once the runners have set off but also about the issues in researching and planning new event venues and more importantly, the difference the financial contributions from SVN can make to the local area. At one venue they have managed to employ a part time ranger as a result of additional income from SVN’s presence, which means they can organise more educational visits. How great is that!!
Perhaps the thing that sticks out most in my mind is Traviss trying to convince one woman to go out on her seventh lap to not only be the first female marathon finisher that day but also to get a PB. It took a few minutes and there were a few false starts but she was sent on her way with the help of fellow runners. It was wonderful to see her finish having taken eight or nine minutes of her previous marathon time. Although I think she then regretted having taken so long to be persuaded because she missed out on a sub 4 hour marathon by less than two minutes! This is why I love this group, they are so encouraging, from experienced runners down to first timers, they all get sound advice and encouragement to achieve things probably not previously envisaged.
On a personal level, I also sought advice from experts on refuelling between multi event challenges because I have discovered I really struggle to eat after a long run, which is not going to be ideal come August. The answer could be in liquid form and I have a few months to practice. I also discovered that Dryrobe make the most wonderful cold weather outfits which are invaluable on cold, wet and windy February days and would be exceedingly useful when volunteering at junior parkrun down on the windy Prom. I wonder if the taxman would notice if I claimed one on my business accounts!!