Queen Elizabeth Spring Marathon

qe1After a torrid 3 months of persistent knee injuries since December, it was time for my first race of the year. Preparation had been severely hampered and running had been fairly limited with my longest run in 3 months at a mere 14 miles it was going to be a challenging day. The vast majority of my training had been cross training on the indoor turbo trainer, so it would be interesting how my legs would fair. The Queen Elizabeth Spring Marathon is a 2 lap course with about 3,500ft of elevation in Petersfield, Hampshire. This race is organised by a local company called Second Wind Running. With hill work at a premium it was going to be tough…

 

This is a very local race for me so there was no real rush on the travel front, but I stuck with my usual breakfast of 2 weetabix and a banana. 20 minutes in the car and I was at the start, I drank my bottle of lucozade sport before the start and snacked on a few dates for good measure. I had selected my 600ml handheld with a Powerbar electrolyte tablet packed with a Powerbar wafer and some more dates for good measure. Race briefing down and we lined up for the generous 9:30 start.

 

BANG! The race was underway, I had positioned myself towards the front but as I was unsure of my fitness I had no intention of setting the pace. After only about 200 metres of running we were straight into climbing a colossal mountain of a hill. This immediately sorted the men from the boys and I was at the back of a lead group of 6 when we eventually reached the summit. We stayed together until mile 5 when two started to drop off the back when we reached the next hill. I was feeling ok so I tried to stick with the remnants of the group. I had been sipping my drink but at mile 7, I had a few bites of my Powerbar wafer and a couple of dates. We then hit quite a steep decent at mile 8 and it splintered the pack, I found myself in 2nd wedged in between the two freshest looking competitors. Un-phased by this, I had noticed earlier on that I was surprisingly able to pull away from them when we were going uphill. So with the next hill approaching at mile 10, I swigged my drink and rallied myself for the upcoming attack. I went in conservatively until we reached the halfway point of the hill, then I put my foot down, fortunately nobody responded but I had only edged a small gap by the top. This stayed relatively the same until we started to reach the end of the 1st lap/half marathon point, when I noticed I had about a 30 second cushion much to my relief. The bonus of a 2 lap course meant at the end of lap one my parents were able to shove me some more dates and give me some moral support. Fifty percent finished or fifty percent to go, I suppose it’s a matter of perspective. Now back up the other side of that brutal hill and I could no longer see anyone chasing close behind. But now was not the time for respite so I knew it was hammer time for the next few miles. This lap I decided in an effort to combat fatigue I would go more conservatively uphill and go for it on the descents. So I reached mile 17 had a few more dates and finished off the rest of my Powerbar, by now I was starting to catch the tail end of the half marathon that had started afterwards. This buoyed my spirits as it allowed me to always have something to aim for in the distance. So the next few miles flew past and before I knew it I was at mile 21. I was still maintaining really good pace so at the next stop I allowed myself a handful of flapjack and a couple of cups of squash to chug down. Still there was no one in sight, could I do this? By the time I reached mile 23 I was down to the last reserves of my drink, but more concerning was the fact my legs were now toast on any sort of incline! Although I could still go hard on the descents for some bizarre reason. I kept going but alas as mile 25 approach I spied my nemesis in the distance, a stile! I sized it up with my jelly legs and clambered over with my arms hauling me over in what I can only imagine was one unpleasant sight. Now with less than a mile to go it reasonably all downhill, so I finished off the rest of my drink and ploughed on with my legs of lead. With the finish line in sight I mustered a burst of pace to cross the line 3 hours and 3 minutes to claim a new course record and finish 15 minutes ahead of 2nd place. I grabbed a chocolate frijj milkshake and a mars bar, top quality nutrition! It was followed by a tuna sandwich, I promise! It was a really challenging course and I was thrilled to get the win but more importantly I was back running!

 

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