• Barry Gerhold

7 Marathons in 5 weeks...

The last couple of months have been rather disrupted for many reasons. A relationship break up and the stresses of moving home the last couple of months have meant I've had quite a few ups and downs, but I have my running to distract me don’t I?

Well the first four events after my London to Brighton run it did not quite go to plan. Again the annoying and boring injuries have held me back. I will only briefly dwell on these in this paragraph. Only being able to run 7 or 8 miles before the hip abductor starts playing up and reducing mobility in my left leg each race was hard work and painful and I really wasn’t enjoying my running. I considered giving it all up at one point, I certainly didn’t feel I needed to write a report on them as there wasn’t much to tell apart from the same old shit... Injury!

So If I was going to continue running I needed a fresh approach. My aim when I run is not to win, recently not even to worry about times at all. I just wanted to see how far I could run before my body gave up. This however was not working.

The reason I run is because I love the outdoors, I like to test my physical limits.

I needed to enjoy running again so my plan for the Black Knight Challenge on the 23rd June was to add walking sections in from very early on to reduce loading the hip abductor too much in hope that pain in that area would hold off later into the event, and that is what I did.

Fortunately on that event there were a lot of hills. Every hill was an excuse to walk and I ran as much of the flat and downhill sections as I could. This plan seemed to work. Yes my pacing was slow, but that did not matter. I was able to maintain that pace long into the event. Miles 6,7 and 8 passed by without any pain and I wondered how long for? Lap after lap I was able to carry on with the same system and soon enough marathon distance had been and gone. I was able to keep on running.

I managed to make it to mile 35 and I loved it. I could once again feel like I could test myself and enjoy what I love doing.

A similar approach was taken at the Ranscombe Summer Challenge on the 30th June where I managed to achieve a distance of 35 miles.

Today I took on the Hermes North Downs Marathon. I know North Downs very well, I have managed to do many training runs on this route and it is a location that I love. The views up at the top of Reigate and Box Hill are amazing. Today we had beautiful sunshine and this made the views even more spectacular.

What the sun did also do was make running a little trickier. Every event I have done over the past 5 or 6 weeks has been very hot. The slow pacing has meant that I have handled it fairly well, but today it was intense, somewhere in the region of 30 °C

The pacing plan remained the same. Having to climb Box Hill and Colley Hill TWICE! This would be a test. I felt great on the first 10k which took me down Colley and up to the top of Box Hill.

Heading back towards the start/finish line for the second 10k it was starting to feel a bit more testing. I had frozen two bottles of water which proved to be extremely beneficial at keeping me cool.

The climb up Colley was painful and I was not looking forward to climbing up that a second time, I headed into the aid station picked up two more frozen water bottles. I popped some Vaseline on my big toe which was starting to hurt a little for some reason. (No more grief after this) and headed out for lap two. Again I felt good on this outward section. The pace was fast (relative to the course and my fitness) and plodded along nicely. Climbing up box Hill however was proving difficult. It was around the 18 mile mark now and running sections were becoming short lived. Both water bottles had been drained by the 20 mile mark, so I had to top these up with water from the aid station which was a bit warmer than I’d like. It would become rather difficult to drink this in the closing stages due to the drinks rising temperature.

Fatigue was certainly starting to set in, as was the heat. This being a pleasant change compared to injury pain. Fatigue/Fitness I can work on and improve.

The final climb up Colley Hill approached. This hurt! I picked up a good size stick from the side of the path and used this so that I could use my upper body to propel me upwards. This seemed to help. I was passed by some hikers going in the opposite direction who must have thought I looked like a twat! But I didn’t care.

At the top of this the fire in my calves/quads and hamstrings started to fizzle out and I put in a few more random runs of about 30 seconds or so before I decided, Nah... Too hot!

The Finish line soon was in front of me and I crossed the line, got sprayed with some water, got my medal and then grabbed an ice cream from the shop :-)

Oh Yeah, one of the recent events was the Phoenix explorer Marathon where I took home the world’s largest medal (see if you can spot it in the picture)

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