Enigma – Need For Speed Marathon
When you tell people that you’ve signed up for a marathon there are usually two likely responses. Either they get excited and think it’s brilliant or they think you’re crazy. What most of us don’t admit is that from the moment we sign up we too swing rather erratically between these two perspectives. Training is either going really well or you want to hurl your trainers off the nearest cliff. The really good news is that the race isn’t much better. Well at least the inconsistency is consistent!
For my first marathon I chose the Enigma Need for Speed on 2nd July 2016, seven and a bit laps of a sports lake in Milton Keynes. Why? Well I spent the same weekend last year watching as hubby Darren tackled eight and a bit laps to complete a 30 miler. It occurred to me that it would be quite nice to be guaranteed to see your ‘support crew’ every 3.6 miles. You can get exactly what you want in terms of nutrition without having to carry anything and everyone there seemed a little crackers (many signed up to do more than one race – in fact one guy did both marathons and the half over the two days) so i figured I’d feel at home.
So race day dawned and … I felt ok. The weather was good, if a little warmer than expected, and as we lined up for the start I was actually looking forward to the race (maybe because once over I could finally have my weekends back). Anyway, a lap or so in I got chatting to a couple of local runners and stuck with them for the next 3 laps. The course was quite scenic and easy underfoot with only the odd family of unruly children and overexcited puppies to negotiate en route.
However, by the end of lap 4 my pace had slowed a little and I was running alone. Not something I mind – having trained (like an idiot) for a summer marathon I did a lot of the long training runs by myself – but by the end of lap 5 the little voices were kicking in.
The great things about a lapped race are being able to see your support, getting your drinks/gels and being able to dump unnecessary hats/shades etc. The flip side is that once things start to go downhill the temptation to stop is almost overwhelming. Unlike point to point races you don’t have to find your way back to the start or finish or work out to how to contact anyone watching out for you on the course. Having said that the confidence that you gain when you force yourself past that point and on to the next lap is also immeasurable.
So plod on I did, although I spent most of lap 6 coaxing myself to the next tree/bin/corner. An argument not helped by the fact that my usual gels seemed to be making me queasy rather that giving a much needed boost. But although my pace continued to slow (advocates of consistent pacing look away now – mile 1 8:55; mile 24 11:05!) I refused to give in. Not even when James and Guy finally lapped me just a couple of hundred yards away from the start finish line – bastards.
In the end the last lap was almost enjoyable (possibly because I knew the end was in sight) but by the time I crossed the finish line in 4:22:23 I was swearing ‘NEVER AGAIN’. It’s amazing though what cookies, clean clothes and a camp chair in the sun can do to your frame of mind. So, will i do it again? Maybe, but I don’t think I’ll be joining the boys in the 100 challenge anytime soon.