In the spring, the inaugural Rutland Water Marathon was announced and being a favourite training route I put my name down in a flash. Now, on reflection, this wasn’t the smartest thing to do.
I had trained hard for Kona since IM Arizona in November 2009; it was time for an extended period of recovery before starting the 2011 campaign. For the first time in nearly three years of long distance racing I really felt I needed a mental and physical break from focussed training. Seeking advice from those around me, the right thing to do was to can the run and put my feet up for a while.
Unfortunately, it was just too good to miss – roll out of bed, drive 3 miles and run a marathon on my manor! So, at 0900 Sunday morning I arrived at the start line. It was a beautiful clear morning, the water looked wonderful but I was pleased not to be jumping in to race the Dambuster or Vitruvian! Tri top and shorts looked out of place amongst the hoodies, hats, gloves and long tops and tights. Spot the triathlete!
Finally the gun went off and we sped to the first gate, a bit of a squeeze but more so for the 600 souls behind me! Bearing in mind my Iron toasted legs, I planned to run just fast enough to finish well but not completely implode, sub 3hrs seemed a reasonable target. The miles clicked by, averaging 06:45s and staying in sight of the top 5 runners. As we arrived at the Hambleton peninsula, the cattle grids and gates were becoming a little tiresome, causing a break in rhythm and pace control. They came thick and fast (less than 1k apart), coupled with short, sharp hills made the next 10 miles hard going. However, the other runners started to tire (I had slipped back to 07:00s) and I moved up the field to 4th place. The next three guys were long gone, or so I thought.
Plodding round the very familiar route I kept pushing but ran within myself, no need for any heroics, get the job done and a respectable time/placing – 4th seemed good enough but I didn’t want to risk getting caught. Over my shoulder I noticed another runner come into view, no time to ease up, keep a steady pace to the end. To my surprise I got a split from a friend, the second place runner was 90s in front with 3 miles to go – could I reel him in running 30s a mile quicker? I kept the pace firm and to my surprise caught him with over a mile to go to the finish.
My family were there to cheer me on to the line- it was great to finish the run and bag a nice result. Not the fastest of times but by all accounts it was a slow course and I am happy to support that story! Will I be back next year? Probably not. It was not the smartest thing to do, adding 4 weeks to my period of recovery before I am able to get back on the wagon, but hey, it was too good to miss! We do this sport for fun and sometimes fun needs to be had despite the consequences.