Firstly, for all the people I know who once again bailed out on coming to this race… You missed out 🙂 I’ve said it once and no doubt I’ll say it again, this is my favourite race weekend away, not just because of the spectacular honest course in a beautiful part of the world, but also a great camping weekend with old friends and new.
The last 2 years I’ve tackled the half marathon but seeing that this is a bit of an off year and I don’t have any real big performance goals I thought I’d have a crack at the full distance… Check out the profile…
Before I talk about the course let’s just quickly have a look at what I ate:
Keeping it fairly simple again, a little bit of fat, mainly maltodextrin, with additional essential amino acids:
Before: Rice, avocado, salt, (fast becoming my favourite pre race breakfast) + 1 Hammer bar 1hr before the start + beetroot shot, (after a week of beet loading)
Every 45 mins: 1 Hammer peanut butter gel + 5 amino acid caps + sipping on maltodextrin drink mix
Actual for the 4:37 race: 4 gels, 25 amino acid caps, 700ml malto drink mix + 1 cup of coke
The major thing here to note I think are: again bringing down the amount of water I was consuming… taking the Tim Knokes approach, (drinking to thirst). It’s not the same for everyone, after all we are all an N=1, but for me I simply don’t need to consume that much liquid to perform.
Also, really sold into the amino acid consumption to reduce the feeling of fatigue, protocol. Again, something that works for me. The cup of coke I tool for the last 8km at the final aid station, just to keep my mental focus and stop me from tripping on a rock and stacking it on the home stretch… And it worked, (well it might have) as for once I didn’t fall over on a trail run!
Also did the usual avoidance to too much fiber and keeping the food really simple for a day or so before the race. Standard.
So, the marathon really is a tale of 2 halves. The first being steep, technical and brutal; the second being more gradual, fast and also brutal.
Section one takes you up a particularly rocky, muddy steep incline before dropping you down the other side and quite cruelly making you do the whole thing in reverse. The rain over the last couple of days did make some of the trail a little more muddy and slippery than I would have liked, but to be honest I was expecting worse… I guess having a decent pair or trail shoes helps as well, (I use the Inov 8 RocLite 285’s for anyone who was wondering).
One thing this section made me really realise was that my speed over this type of terrain is really dictated by how technical it is rather than my fitness… I could really have been going a lot faster in a lot of sections if my skills were up to scratch. I guess this is pretty obvious but I’m become more aware that I’m quite naff at the technical stuff, (compared to some of the mountain goats I see flying around) Something to work on for future races.
After passing through the start shoot at the halfway point, (were I got some nice support and motivation from Pete and Kat) It’s onto familiar territory – the 2nd half, (the half marathon course I’ve done twice before).
Compared to the first half you can really get into a rhythm on the 2nd – the main challenge here is measuring your energy and pace, and of course watching your footing – when the fatigue sets in it’s easy to stack it on even a small undulation. The only break in pace is really the tunnel, the race signature and always an interesting respite from the effort, (walking through the tunnel is mandatory… although after 3 years I’m yet to see a glow worm).
The downhill portion didn’t feel quite as bad as expected – based on passed experience I was expecting a quad smashing. Maybe it was the North Face 50 a month before training effect strengthening my legs, or maybe it was the slower pace of the full compared to the half – but it wasn’t that bad… still I was quite happy to see the finish line when it came.
Didn’t set the world on fire with my time – but happy with a solid performance, steady energy and overall a very fun race.
Just a quick note on the weekend itself. If you’re looking for a family friendly atmosphere with events of various distances, (4 in all… with some people attempting the ‘quad’ over the weekend) and things put on for the kids if you want to bring the tribe with you – you can’t look past the Glow Worm. Not only that but the organisers put on films, good food, proper coffee as well as a live band on the Saturday night.
My only complaint being that if you’re racing the marathon on the Sunday it’s tough seeing all the half finishers on the Saturday night enjoying a beer and a dance when you have to get an early night… oh well, you can’t have it all!