• Barry Gerhold

Phoenix - Top Run Timed Event

I intended to go into this event with a relaxed attitude. My runs over the previous few months have not quite gone to plan and my fitness has nose-dived somewhat, although I am sure it is getting back there slowly, I am not the most patient of people. So, my plan was to not worry about the pace, just keep the heart rate low and try to enjoy it, otherwise Natalie might tell me off 😊

The first two laps I was joined by Craig, a marathon regular. We discussed running, of course and those two laps (10k) seemed to fly by. Usually, I don’t engage in conversation during a running event apart from the odd hello or words of encouragement. This isn’t because I am anti-social (well maybe a little), but more to do with not wanting to disrupt my focus or get mixed up in someone else’s pacing. Today, I saw the benefit of having a good natter.

Craig left me to my own devices at the end of lap two as he wanted to hold back to run with a friend of his… hopefully I didn’t bore him? Running on my own, I then tried to find my own stride. The plan of keeping my heart rate in the mid 140’s had already failed, so I intended to keep it at a comfortable 160, letting that drift a few beats either side. This felt pretty good to me and I managed to maintain it for the majority of the event.

The weather was all over the place. There was a lot of very fine rain, which wasn’t a hindrance, it was actually quite refreshing. The sun also made a number of appearances. On any normal day I’d be pleased to see this mysterious glowing yellow ball, but when running it is not my friend. The clouds did come rolling in a few times and teased us with a trickle more of rain. It was also a tad windy, not so much that it made it a struggle, but again quite refreshing when exposed to the sun.

Close to the 22 mile mark, I was feeling very tired. My legs felt quite good at this point, but my energy levels were low. I couldn’t be sure why this was? I feel certain that I had eaten and hydrated adequately, perhaps the sunshine was having an effect? Who knows? This bloody marathon malarkey does strange things to the body.

Eventually, I caught up with a guy who I’d been slowly gaining on. He upped his pace and ran beside me for a while. We didn’t chat too much, but the little we did speak was just to see how we were getting on. We were both pretty shattered. He was running his first marathon in ten years and was well on for a personal best. With just 4 miles to go, it was certain he’d achieve that. Our paces matched for a while, but then I decided to ease back as I was feeling more and more tired with every step. This reduced pace felt great, but I kept that guy in my sights and he stayed about 20 metres ahead.

So, lap 8, the marathon distance lap…

The plan was to get a little walking in, especially as my right foot was starting to get sore around the big toe. I assumed this was due to the heat and my feet had likely swollen. A mile into the lap, I pulled up on the side of the path and took my trainer off. At the start of the event whilst getting ready in the car, I had noticed a small hole in my sock next to the big toe. Having no spare pairs with me, I had to go with it and that was forgotten about. Now at mile 24, this hole was quite a lot bigger and accompanied by a rather large blister. That would explain the pain. I tried to stretch the damage areas of sock over the exposed toe and continued on my way.

In the end, I ran a fair portion of this lap, perhaps three quarters of it and I felt comfortable. The heart rate had been slowly climbing up and I was worrying about lactic acid and all that jazz, but the walking breaks helped reduce it and seemed to reset a few things, making me feel good again.

I finished the marathon distance at around 3 hours 50mins and decided to stop for a while so that I could try to treat the blister. A big ol’ plaster done the job. I also changed trainers to ones with a bigger toe box and threw a handful of salted peanuts down my throat. My body seemed to disagree with this and I found it hard to run at all. Every time I attempted to do so, I would be hit by a wave of nausea and at times, I thought that I might be sick. Why this happened, again I couldn’t say? Perhaps too much salt? The nausea wasn’t so bad when I walked, so it made sense to walk this off and see if it dissipated. I tested running a few times and it wasn’t going to happen. With about 1 mile to go, I had one last attempt at running and all seemed well, so I ran the remaining mile and completed 29.52 miles in 4hrs 32mins... I was glad to be going home. I contemplated having a nice nap in the car before the drive back, but leaving immediately would mean missing the school rush so there wasn’t really a chance of this. Instead, I had one when I got home and it was bloomin’ lovely too J

#WaltononThames #UltraMarathon #phoenixrunning #httpwwwphoenixrunningcouk #TopRunChallenge

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