Buxton Mountain Time Trial and London Marathon

“Previously on ER” I was patching myself up after a bit of a tumble in the Edale Skyline. It took 5 trips to Altrincham Minor Injuries clinic before they were happy with the state of my elbow. I also must have torn something in my upper arm as it’s been very sore since, and also my calfs were very tight and DOMSed.

So I couldn’t run and couldn’t swim but I could still ride which was lucky because I’d entered the Buxton Mountain Time Trial on Good Friday – despite not really having done much cycling for the previous 3 months. I last did this race back in 2008 and I remember it being very tough and getting caught in a hail shower! The weather Gods were playing with us again as two days before the race there was a freak heavy snowfall which left many roads in the Peak impassable. Fortunately the sun came out the next day and the roads were clear for the race, albeit with some very impressive alpine-style snowdrifts covering the verges.

Given my lack of cycling miles I was pretty happy with how the race went, although I fell apart at the back end of the last lap! It’s a really good course, 3 laps of a triangular circuit that goes up, across then down and is a good all round test.

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The remainder of the Easter weekend saw a good (if wet) 3 hour bike ride with the boys on Sunday and then a solid 20 mile run on the Monday. Unfortunately my left calf tightened up during this and over the next week and a half it was tough and go whether I’d be able to run the London Marathon or not. Drastic measures (such as doing the Hope Mini Mountain Marathon entirely at a walk, and I still didn’t come last!) were taken and a late fitness test passed on the Thursday, so on Saturday morning I was on the train down to London.

Everyone seemed convinced that it was going to rain on race day, not sure why as the forecasts I’d seen said it was going to be OK. And this turned out to be the case as it was a sunny morning with hardly a cloud in the sky. The “Fast Good For Age” start pen (which puts you at the front of the Red start) was pretty relaxed as the clock counted down to the start at 0945. Met up with Andy and Brian, and we also bumped into Michael H and Chris.

I’d planned to run it at a fast training pace rather than race it but in the early stages it was very hard to slow down as you were swept along by everyone else. This and the fact that the first 3-4 miles is downhill meant I covered the first four miles on close to 3 hour pace, whereas 3:10 was the target. Calmed it down a bit and trotted along nicely, past the Cutty Sark then over Tower Bridge. The crowds were amazing, like nothing else I’ve ever experienced, lining the entire course 3-4 deep in places plus bands and music – just awesome.

Saw Paul and family (my hosts for Saturday night) just after halfway and the race winner Wilson Kipsang coming back the other way (8 miles ahead!) as I turned away to do the loop round the Isle of Dogs. No matter what pace you run it at a marathon still hurts and past 20 miles the legs tightened up a bit, including my dodgy left calf; to be honest it stayed good much longer than I was expecting. So I was distracted from my sight-seeing during the home stretch and completely missed Big Ben, although I did see Rich in the crowd at 25.5 miles. Crossed the line in 3:07, happy with that and already resolving to make it an A race next year and have a good go at getting that sub-2:50.

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This weekend I was supposed to be running the classic 3 Peaks fell race but my calf was sore again after the marathon, and then I came down with a cold anyway so that goes down as a DNS. Next stop is a 40 mile ultra-marathon in the Brecon Beacons in two weeks time, the first step on this year’s quest for UTMB qualifying points.

Finally, big up to Brian who ran the Manchester Marathon today (in horrific wet cold windy conditions it has to be said) to make it back-to-back marathon weekends – and he was quicker second time around too!

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