Groundhog Day Marathon – 5.3.16

When Mary saw last year’s medal with a cute Groundhog embossed on the front that she ‘must have!’  she must have realised how lucky she was to have a fantastic husband that buys marathons for her birthday presents.  Being a track based marathon, rushing between points to support her was going to be rather unnecessary so I decided I might as well join her in the race.  Unfortunately an earlier marathon present for her birthday was to be her downfall… As I am sure any Racefitter will know – as she moans constantly about it – Mary got a grade 3 twisted ankle so was regrettably unable to run.

The race organisers would have happily arrange a transfer of Mary’s place free of charge, and I was willing just to give it away rather than waste it, but no one took up the offer.  Was this a sign about the race I should have heeded?

So I was on my own… literally – no support crew – my reason of it being really boring watching a 100 runners circle a track 105½ times came back to bite me.

Having attended a few ‘smaller’ marathons before as supporter and runner you start to see and recognise familiar faces from or that are trying to join the elite 100 Marathon Club and so it was in Telford.

Just before 10am the field of runners was taken across to the other side of the track from the finish were the race was to start at the 200m start point – as marathons are 26.21875miles or 42.195km (hence the ½ lap – 200m) very quickly we were off – asked to leave lane 1 free so faster runners could overtake on the inside.  So for the first 40 laps I ran in between lane 2 and lane 3; I wasn’t fast enough to be overtaking anyone!

When I get bored in a run, I always fall back on mathematics to keep my mind occupied and I quickly had to revert to maths as despite the rather pretty Leisure Centre building, finish arch and the green sides of the track littered with sharp yellow daffodils the scenery was very similar lap upon lap!  The weather didn’t even effect the race as the cool conditions stayed dry for me for 103 of the 105½ laps (We had hail on lap 97 & 98) in fact for half my time, but not half my laps }:-( the sun came out.  On the way around I started to work out how much extra distance I was running being in lane 3 rather than lane 1!  I calculated 16.1m (I knew ᴨ to calculate the circumference of circle would come in handy) for the record I was wrong on my mental calculations it was actually 15.33m – power of Google!

I would love to claim that this extra distance affected me, but actually I just hadn’t got the training miles in my legs so it was always going to be a tough call.  As well as lack of training the repetitive nature of going around the track really started to get to me…  With any training run I hate to loop back over roads I have previously run – even in the opposite direction! I can just about manage Coventry parkrun’s two laps but I guess that is why I have 20 different parkruns to my name!  So going around and around really started to sap my enjoyment – the cheery marshals at the feed station (very well stocked; no gels here… cake, jelly beans, jaffa cakes, flat coke and other treats) – and on the lap counter PA tried hard with comments and banter but I was having none of it – I had turned into a grumpy old man!

As I passed 60 laps the first finishers started to trickle in – having been lapped 40 times by one I was pleased to see him go! And the track over the next hour emptied and I could move into lane 1.

People apparently really enjoy these races, I know this because by lap 70 (1/3 done) I fell in with a small group of runners and chatting to them they like the social side of the race one had even done 4 previous track marathons!  As we ran we were joined by Denzil the race organiser – A very nice gentleman who chatted away and kept me on track.

Slowly walk running I knew my lifetime PB was slipping away – a visit to the portaloo on the side saw to that – but as the laps ticked by my determination not to give up, even when my right glute started to twinge, kicked in.  Not only was I a pain in the butt to Mary earlier in the day trying to get everything ready for this race (Yes, Last minute I know) I literally had a pain in the butt!   I wanted that medal.  I wasn’t going home empty handed.

Once inside the last 5 laps I knew I was on the home straight – admittedly a 2000m home straight but it was all but over – I soon would leave the track to my 3 fellow value for money runners.

For the last hundred metres my legs kicked in again and I actually ran rather than plodded – maybe I wanted it all over or maybe I hoped for a good finish picture.  But for whatever reason it was done, I had planned to run the last few laps with those left out on the track out of camaraderie but my race was done and my legs just wanted to sit down and rest whilst I gobbled down the 9bars given at the end.

The last paragraph has to be if I would recommend this race or have my own Groundhog Day moment and race this event again.  Like many smaller races this was organised by a runner (as he had lots of volunteers this year Denzil ran the race) for runners and it was very welcoming and really well organised.  The facilities were great and a constant tannoy of music – but I would question the choice of music at times – Dizzy and You spin me round right round!  So yes I would recommend this event – I think Mary might be receiving this as a present.  Would I do it again – NO – this race beat me.  I found it mentally challenging to get round the same 400m loop – that said I was lucky to meet some great people who helped me out of a very dark running mood and discovered a new found grit and determination – so make that no a MAYBE!

Massey Facts and figures.

Daniel Connolly 5:47:30 Garmin time official time will be online later but won’t be much out.