The morning started at 7.20 when Mark Greenfield picked me up along with Paul Coates and Dave Fuller, we would be meeting Lucy Peazold and Sharon Gwynn at Littlehampton marina, the venue for today’s marathon. Spirits were high in anticipation of our challenging cross country run with the 14 degrees temperature, at 8am, being a talking point around what to wear. Much banter was made of my comment from the evening before that I couldn’t decide what to wear, deva/tart and “it’s not a fashion parade” were comments that I took on the chin 🙂 The best decision I made was to wear my cap, this proved a huge benefit !!
A group photo was taken outside the Boat House and it was 9am and we were off, a small field limited to 100 runners. The Arun riverbank has clumpy grass and nettles in places but in the main was fine to run on in road shoes. Running along the river was just beautiful.
Arundel Cathedral and Castle came into view at 4 miles and a short detour through the town brought us back onto the riverbank heading for the first feed station, the Black Rabbit pub at 6 miles. I was aware that my legs had felt “heavy” today for no particular reason so Mark and Dave started to disappear into the distance, as Paul had earlier, and I slowed down a little.
We crossed the river at 8.5 miles and ran through a wooded cops with narrow tracks and a very bouncy bridge. On leaving the shade and approaching Amberley at about 1o miles it was clear the field was well strung out now and my legs weren’t getting any looser. The next section saw us joining the South Downs Way and the rise in elevation that was capped with Amberley Mount. I walked in a number of places were I would normally run and by the time I was approaching half way with 13.5 miles to retrace I seriously considered dropping out, something I haven’t done in nearly 30 years of running. Words of encouragement from our runners going in the other direction were greatly appreciated and it was good to see Luke Ashton in 3rd place.
It’s at times like this you discover “What you are made of”, not everything in life goes to plan and how you deal with it is what’s important, “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger” etc. Added to this the views from the top of Amberley Mount reminded me why I run off road and how much I enjoy it.
As our two lovely ladies Lucy and Sharon overtook me at about 15 miles Lucy kindly gave me two paracetamol which did help, they too disappeared into the distance so it was now down to me and the conversations with myself, that I was having 🙂 The temperature must have been around 20 degrees and I knew I was on for the slowest of my 7 marathons to date. “Come on Rog, just keep at it, keep going, everyone else will be waiting for me” I mumbled these words to myself for the remainder of the run to keep motivated as the 12 minute mile pace on my watch wasn’t a pretty sight 🙂
The Black Rabbit pub at 20 miles gave me some much needed humour as I took the wrong path and ended up in the middle of the beer garden, much to their amusement and mine. At the feed station on the other side of the pub I was greeted with enthusiasm from people I’ve never met and will never meet again, so I’d like to say a big thank you to them, especially young Madeline who made me laugh. Buoyed by their enthusiasm and my dogged determination I was off heading for Arundel. With 4 miles left I had to start mixing walking with my very slow running. This part of the riverbank seemed to go on for ages and more “talking to myself” was required !!
Finally the last 100 metres came and in true Fareham Crusaders spirit, even though I’d kept them waiting my team mates were there to cheer me in , we have a great club, full of great people. Shattered but pleased to have battled through, my energy levels and sense of humour returned with South Downs Water and a cooked breakfast from the Boat House café bar (included in the entry fee). Great event, Great organisation and Great running/times for 27 miles from Paul 13th in 4.08, Dave 28th in 4.33, Mark 36th in 4.43, Lucy and Sharon 74/75th in 5.27 and me 80th in 5.37 but “That’s life”, it was a “tough day at the office” for us all . Role on the South Downs marathon in 5 weeks time, I will be looking for some payback after todays blip, having said that, I still love to @runoffroad !! 🙂
I learnt today that “The Voice” may have “Will-I-Am” but I have “Will-Power”