Same Course, Different Strategy, Same Result

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After running 4 very challenging and hilly trail marathons though June and early July it was a refreshing change to be back running a measured, fairly flat road marathon. I had picked to run day 2 and day 7 of Time 2 Run’s Scorcher 7 marathon in 7 days event. The event village was well set up in several marquees in a large field on the outskirts of Preston. There was a set of different race distances held each day, obviously I picked the marathon distance which was 6 laps of quiet countryside lanes.

scorcher-2018-finish

At the Scorcher finish with Race Organiser Phil

I was talked into running day 2 by my friend Gary as he was doing it, so when I got there on the morning of the race to find he wasn’t there I was rather disappointed. I bet his ears were burning! Anyhow the race started and I decided to set off with a steady pace just under 8 minute miling in the hope of dipping under 3 hours 30 minutes for the first time since April.

After I finished the first Lap I couldn’t believe it, there was Gary and his daughter Joni, just starting. They had arrived late due to traffic congestion. It was lovely to see them and we had a nice little natter for about a mile before I had to leave them and pursued my sub 3:30 goal.

I got to half way in 1:44 which was exactly where I wanted to be but I wondered if I had the speed to continue it for another 13.1 miles. As the laps ticked over I started to recognise the more of the course. A huge and impressive farm house half way round on the right. The most fun thing I saw was two wooden characters with plant pot hats sat on a gate, of course I had to call them Bill and Ben and I considered them the official on course spectators.

Scorcher Spectators Bill & Ben

Spectators – Bill & Ben

I was so pleased that the second half of the race went exactly to plan. I managed perfectly even splits and finished strong in 3:28:18. It was great to finally be back to running a marathon sub 3:30, 2nd place to boot.

I was able to come back and run the last day and wondered could I pull off a second sub 3:30 in a week or even go a bit quicker. I elected to start faster and see how it went. For the first Lap I had the company of a runner called Peter from Derbyshire which really helped me with my pacing. Sadly I couldn’t stay with him for laps 2 and 3 but I still maintained a really good fast pace for me. By half way I was at 1 hour 38 minutes, far better than anything I could have expected. Could I keep this going? Well I quickly found out and sadly the answer was no. Lap 4, I struggled. Lap 5 got worse and all my gains in the first 3 laps were quickly being eaten up to the point I was going to be outside sub 3:30. At the beginning of the last lap I took on plenty of fluids in the hope I could regroup and refocus enough to have a strong last lap. I was finding it very hard but took it a mile at a time hovering at 8 mile pace while I knew would be tight for a sub 3:30. For the last 2 miles I dipped under 8 minute miles and managed to scrape under 3:30 finishing with 3:28:38.

Maybe it was the weather that got to me, it was very warm and humid. I could see my hands swelling as my wedding ring became tight on my finger and my head was throbbing in the heat. Maybe I’m not fit enough either. All I can do is try again on a cooler day. Interesting, 2 different strategies and only 20 seconds between them. I think it shows a steady paced run is a better marathon plan than a faster start. It is certainly a more comfortable run than having to hang on for dear life and dig deep over the last few miles.

Scorcher Day 7 2018 top 3

First 3 home on Day 7 – Nice photo bomb from Phil!

Well done to the Scorcher 7in7 runners. It was enjoyable to sit on the grass with Jonathan and a few other runners and eat a few sandwiches while watching and clapping them in as they completed their challenge. Thanks to Phil and his team for putting on such an excellent and professional event. The course is a pretty fast for anyone looking for a good time.

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