Monday, November 30, 2015

Marathons 57 & 58 of 60

Marathon 57 - The Oyster Bay marathon

Oyster Bay - doesn't that sounds exotic? The reality was rather different on a cold, grey and very windy November day I can tell you!

Another of Traviss and Rachel's events, this was the first in a series of 5 marathons in 5 days which were held at various points along the Kent Coast. You could run as many of them as you liked and being the sensible girl that I am (ahem!) I opted for just 2 of them; the first and the last. Some people did just one but quite a few brave and dedicated souls chose to do all 5 of them.

I chose this one, held in Herne Bay, because I've never been there before.

In theory it should only have taken me about 1.5 hours to get there but in reality and thanks mostly to roadworks and diversions on several small country lanes it took me nearer 2 hours. On this occasion I wasn't sorry to be there later 'cos it meant I could sit in my nice warm car for a while longer before I braved the elements.

Having faffed around putting on extra layers, a headband to keep the wind out of my ears, dithering weather to wear my buff over my mouth to help my breathing (I decided against it as my breathing has almost returned to normal and I wasn't feeling asthmatic), finding gloves etc etc, I finally headed off to collect my number.

You can often tell what the weather is like by where the Marshall's are and sitting inside the van gives a clue to how cold and windy it was.

Then take a look at Jackie, manning the aid station, who looks twice her normal size because she's wearing so many layers and Janet cocooned in her snug jacket and hood!

Dee, too, had come prepared with her snuggly hood which was later covered with another hood for good measure.  I must mention here that Dee's naughty husband (that's you Philip Rand) pushed himself right to the front of the queue to collect his number. This did not go unnoticed and was commented upon accordingly and he was suitably humbled!!!

Looking around before the start it was like a who's who in the world of marathoning and I could probably write something amazing about everybody there but this time I'm just focusing on one person who I've chatted with, smiled and waved at over the last 12 months or so - Brenda O'Keefe, seen here in the blue hat with a white pompom.

To Dee's right is Stefan who was very close to his 100th marathon which he actually reached on the last day. Well done Stefan!
Now, back to Brenda. I bumped into to her outside the toilets by the car park so this shot is not in the most glamorous of locations.

Looks normal doesn't she? Nice smile, usual running clothing. Or is it? Take a closer look at her jacket and you'll see a very special emblem which tells you that she's a member of the 100 marathon club in Ireland, ie Eire as opposed to the UK.

Yeah, yeah, but you're always writing about people in the 100 club Susie! Indeed I am but this young lady is about to break several rather impressive Irish records. Last year she completed 74 marathons and this year, at the time of writing, she's completed 89 (I think, although it will be more by the time this is published). By the end of the year she aims to claim her place in the Irish record books for the most marathons completed in a year when she completes her 104th marathon of 2015.

You can see why I feel like a lightweight when I'm running with such amazing people! Speaking of which, Traviss made his usual announcements before the start which included a 100th marathon presentation for Peter, seen here doing the traditional trying on of the special vest…….

…….then there was a 300th marathon presentation to Gary who tried to remain invisible.

Dee snapped away as usual.

Then we were off. The route was 4 x out-and-back loops. On the way out we were running into the wind with a section where it swiped at us from the side (how delightful!) but on the way back it was OK.

Crikey it was chilly though. I'd put on an extra layer with a view to taking it off after a few miles but I kept it on all the time and didn't get hot at all. It stayed grey and dreary for most of the time but then the sun came out towards the end and I managed to get some nice photos to capture the event so I'll let them do the talking.

It was the pattern of the waves that made me stop for this one - they reminded me of lacy scallops.

A closer view showing the huge wind farm on the horizon

A study in grey with a beautiful mackerel sky. The sea was really choppy and we were amazed to see 2 ladies swimming in it at one point, not even wearing wetsuits, just ordinary costumes - made us runners seem really sensible!

We started from the end of this pier, when the tide was further out, and it was the turnaround point for each lap. As time went by the waves came really high as you can see from the amount of water lying on the ground.

After a couple of laps I tried to capture the waves crashing against the rocks:

The sea looked beautiful when the sun came out.

There were lots of people to chat with en-route and I had Anna's company for several miles which really helped pass the time. I do enjoy seeing people on each lap as everyone is so supportive. I must, however, remember not to High Five anyone again as I did an over-enthusiastic one and it really hurt my stupid arthritic old hand!

Anna on the home straight!

At around mile 21 I was on 3:50 so technically I should have gone sub 5 hours with ease but my stupid right knee started twinging again, thankfully not as sore as at the Hugin challenge. It was niggly enough to make me be sensible and slow my pace down though and the first thing I did hen I got home was to book a session with Mary Massage Lady to get it sorted.

When I set off on my last lap I saw Maryanne heading towards me and she gave me a massive hug which was very welcome (thanks love!) and helped spur me on. I also stopped to take more photos.

Brenda and Collette, 2 lovely legends!

Jonathan manned the turnaround point and I thought he deserved a photo as he stood out there alone all day and encouraged us all. Thanks Jonathan.

Apparently Oyster Bay is just beyond here but we didn't actually run around it.

Jonathan snapped me heading towards the turnaround point on my last lap...

…and heading for home

I finished in 5:09:02 and was happy enough with that given the strong wind and niggly knee. The bling was as massive as usual and has now joined my ever-growing collection. I attacked the crisps and savoury biscuits in the goody bag in the car park before I left but managed to save the chocolate for Mike.

Marathon 58 - The Dymhurch marathon

I knew exactly what to expect from Dymchurch having completed my 40th marathon there last year but this time Claire wasn't with me and the weather forecast was for WIND. I confess that I was a tad worried about my knee after my last 2 marathons, especially as it had really played up only 3 days earlier but it actually behaved very well and I had no problems with it at all which was a blessing.

It's lovely arriving at the start of an event and finding lots of people to chat to - everyone is so friendly and supportive. Do you know what, I've actually started to feel like a REAL runner; as if I do deserve to stand at the start line in a marathon. I'm sure the gremlins will make an appearance again sometime but at the moment I'm feeling confident, though now I've typed that I'm hoping that it isn't the kiss of death!

Thanks to Anna for the photo

We had the usual address form Traviss - don't deviate from the seawall and don't go into the sea! Then there were presentations:

Chocolates for the lovely ladies who manned the aid station for the past 5 days in what have been very challenging conditions.

Stefan receiving his coveted 100 marathon club shirt. He has recently been suffering from 3 slipped discs which makes this even more special. Many thanks to Maryanne for the photo.

When we started out the wind didn't seem too bad as it was coming from behind but as it was an out-and-back x 6 laps route we knew it was going to bite on the way back and boy did it bite - 40+mph winds are not the easiest of running conditions and they really can sap your energy.

I tried hard to restrict my photo-taking but as usual I failed miserably so here they are, some with words where necessary.

It's nice to see a sandy beach as most of those on this part of the South coast are pebbly

I saw several Husky's out walking with their owners and this one, who arrived with  a fellow runner (sorry, I don't know your name) was a real beauty. There were lots of dogs taking their owners for a walk throughout the day.

The paler patches of sand are where it was being blown along by the wind. I enjoyed watching the ever-changing patterns.

Traviss warned us that High Tide was around 12:40 and that if it became an issue there was another path we could take
Dee took this photo of me at some stage - it must have been early on judging from how far out the sea is. That looks like Kirsty, in her bright pink socks, behind me.

This looked like some sort of beacon but with the basket upside down. I kept trying to get a good shot of the waves breaking against it. I'm sure I could have captured it if I'd altered the shutter speed on my camera but I can't read the menu properly with my contact lenses in!

I had the pleasure of running and chatting with the legendary Brian Mills for a few miles and it was nice to catch up with what he's up to. This was his 1110th marathon and next weekend he'll be completing his 1111th (I do love a palindrome!) in Malaga whilst celebrating his 60th birthday. Wow, that makes my 60th birthday challenge pale into insignificance.

I didn't take any other photos of runners during the marathon but I just had to snap Martin in his snazzy tartan tights!  He was running really well and finished in second place with only 2 minutes between him and Steve.

I really enjoyed running alongside the sea despite the wind. The roar of the sea was magical - it's that feeling of Nature's power that is so invigorating. I was delighted that I didn't have any problems with asthma and I often feel that the ozone in the sea air actually helps, except of course in cold weather when it makes no difference whatsoever.

You probably already know that I always search for patterns in Nature and man-made structures and the coast never fails to delight both in terms of pattern and colour.

I had been worried that my knee would play up again but it seems to have righted itself even before I had my sports massage so I was delighted to find that I completed the second half in almost exactly the same time as the first half. This also probably means I took roughly the same amount of photos during each half!

When I was about 100 metres from the finish line Mike phoned to check I was OK so I finished whilst talking to him which was nice. My time was 5:19:31 which I was happy with given the weather conditions.

Thanks to Philip for the next couple of photos.

Receiving my lovely pink medal from Traviss

Last year my feet were in agony aftre Dymchurch as my arthritis didn't like the concrete at all but this year, thanks to my HOKAs, they felt absolutely fine. Marathon number 59 is this coming Saturday then my final marathon of the year will be a couple of weeks later. Then it will be time to make a special announcement about my next challenge.

In the meantime I have some cows to crochet for a certain Race Director - watch this space and White Star Running both on Facebook and their website for details coming soon………….