Monday, 22 September 2014

Farnham Pilgirms Marathon.








St. Martha's on the Hill
 I was looking forward to running Farnham Pilgrims Marathon for a number of reasons. Firstly I would be raising funds for Brighton YMCA . We are running a bike scheme to help residents  rebuild and repair donated bikes and keep them up and running. This will enable them to get active and fit.

Secondly my friend Mark Johnson was running his 100th marathon and I wanted to see him cross the finishing line.

Thirdly after dropping from the North Downs Way 100 last month at 76 miles I needed a bit of a confidence boost and just to have a good run. I would also be using Farnham as a training run and not a race.

It was a cold morning as we arrived at Sands Recreation ground in Farnham , I had travelled down with Cliff and Maria, the race would be starting at 9.30 am. I said hello to the usual suspects. The race director gave us a race brief and after a short warm up we were off. The first 3/4 of miles was on road passing Farnham golf club. After that we were on trail. It was on the flat at this point of the race. I had started out too fast and my first mile was 8.15 pace too quick for a training run on trail. I felt comfortable though and it was not too much effort and I carried on like this for the next 5 miles. 

The weather had started to warm up and there was plenty of shade in the woods we ran through. Also higher up on the trail there was a nice breeze. Underfoot was sand which is odd to be running on in the middle of country. It was ok in places, but in general the trail was technical, narrow in places and the odd brick suddenly sticking up out of the ground.

I knew that I should slow down a bit but I was enjoying the pace. I was fuelling on babybel cheese today and I had some olives. I would snack at the aid stations also, of which there were  plenty, 11 I counted in total. I would be grateful for the aid stations later when it started to get hotter and I was in need of water. I also had salt tablets with me today. These help keep a good electrolyte balance. I have often felt sick on long hot races. But the Scaps help stabilize the stomach and help avoid cramping. My recovery is also quicker after a long run.

After 5 miles I got into a slower pace but was still sub 10min/mi pace. Still a little fast, but I just thought I would keep going and see how I would do. We were running along parts of the North Downs Way which was nice to find myself on familiar ground. At one point I ran past a runner who was dragging a Tyre behind her for charity! It must have been hard going.

After 10 miles it started to get a bit hilly! And my pace slowed at 12 and 13 miles going up to Maratha's Hill and the Church. I was coming up the hill and it had got hot by now. I glanced over my shoulder to see the guy behind me had severe nipple chafe and the front of his shirt was covered in blood. Further up I could hear this almighty noise. I thought it was kids.But as I rounded the corner and came up the hill I could see a Marshall just jumping up and down shouting and screaming encouraging everyone. It was really funny to see. She does it each year and that is her spot. Totally amazing!

The Climb up to St. Martha's Church.

Again it was good to be on familiar ground as I recognised some of this route as The Downslink Ultra.  After St. Martha's church there was nice bit of downhill through some woods I was grateful for the coolness in there. My slowest pace for the next 6 miles was 11.41 and my quickest was 9.05. At mile 17 we came back onto roughly the same trail we had ran earlier. Then at 18 1/2 we go off heading in the direction of a small village called Shakleford.We skirted some woods then headed towards Puttenham Common. I am starting to tire now. I take in some food to keep me going. The temperature has risen and I am taking in a quite a bit of water. I pop an Scap. Running round the common was not easy, it was sandy and hilly in bits. I can hear the runner behind me ask a Marshall how much longer! I know that feeling. 

After the common we went off into some woods that had some nice hills in. I knew I did not have much farther to go. The temptation is always to walk when tired. But I just kept moving forward working out in my head how much longer on my feet I had. The last mile was on the road again. Loads of people were out encouraging the runners. It always feels nice coming to the end. As I rounded the corner into Sands recreation ground I felt good. Lots of cheers and clapping. It felt good to finish, time was 4hr 34 minutes. Not too bad. 
Time for a Smile and Photo!

The day really went to my friend Mark Johnson. Someone I met a few years ago on the South Downs Way 100. Mark is one of those runners who gets on with it. But at the same time encourages and supports lots of other people. He has helped me along the way with his encouragement. He realised his dream and ran his 100th Marathon today. It was great to see Mark do this and celebrate it with him, his Dad and the many friends he has. Well done Mark.
Mark Johnson to the right with his Marathon 100 Medal.

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