Trailscape Marathon – Cuxton, East

Over the last three weeks or so I have been taking it relatively easy. It took me a while to recover from the Bristol + Bath and North trailscape marathons. On Saturday I travelled with the Advent Running lot to Cuxton in Kent to run the second marathon in the rail to trail series. Being a trail race I hadn’t really given it much thought and knew not to worry about pace or finishing time. Knowing the course was 27+ miles and included 3,000+ft of elevation gain I knew it was going to take a while to get round. The winning time from last year was 4 hours and 51 minutes which says it all.

In the week leading up to my second trailscape marathon I increased my mileage a little. I ran two 14 milers the previous weekend, this was because I wanted to run one of my favourite routes along the canal, up Primrose Hill, up Haverstock Hill, up Swains Lane and up Parliament Hill. The weather was awesome: 
 The next day I ran another 14 miles along the river with Lorna, Freya, Jonny, Bart, Emily and Caroline. The weather wasn’t great that day but as Bart said “It’s cold, windy and pissing it down with rain but look how happy we are because we are running!” He had a good point; the miles went so quickly because we were all having fun despite the weather. The key to keeping motivated through December is to give yourself a strong enough reason to get out there and run. I’m lucky to have great sights to run around and great people to run with in London, I want to be running pretty much all the time. A big reason I will be doing high mileage in December is Advent Running. I run almost every day normally but this month is going to be particularly special as James and Claudia have loads of great events lined up. It all kicked off on Tuesday, we ran from Redchurch Brewery to the Olympic Park and that big RUN sign. 

  The group was massive; it was a great get together. Lots of different people from various running clubs showed up to start their month of running in style. Fast forward to Wednesday, I went to the “Fall in love with running seminar”. We got to hear from Holly Rush (ultrarunner @rushbynature), Vicky Gill (triathlete @vickster_tri), Simon Freeman (Freestak & Like The Wind mag @simonbfreeman) and Alan Murchison (triathlete @performance.chef). 

It was great to hear about their racing, experiences and achievements. I always leave Like The Wind and Advent running events really inspired. On Thursday I got my 30 minutes of running in with The Running Works Run Club: 

 On Friday I had the day off to go to the London Illustration Fair and chill with Lorna. I could’ve had a nice lie in but knowing there was a crazy gang of runners meeting up at Beigel bake on Brick Lane with amazing Christmas jumpers on I had to get involved.  

 Ok so this is supposed to be a race recap, my bad I got side-tracked with all the fun events/running last week. So, Saturday morning I woke up at 6am to get my stuff together and get to James and Claudia’s to travel to Cuxton in Kent. Having not done many trail races I was a little apprehensive knowing the distance and elevation gain. I was confident I would finish but knew it would be a long slog. Being competitive it was hard to hold back at the start but I knew that I would never be able to keep up with a lot of the runners in front. It was good to be running through some beautiful countryside and not having to worry about pace. After a few miles I ended up running alongside a guy called Nick Butcher. We had a good chat about our running; he has completed 94 marathons and is looking to join the 100 marathon club soon. He had taken part in Race to the Stones and finished 30 minutes or so ahead of me in that. He recently did the Druids Challenge which was a race I was thinking of doing. We chatted for a good 10 miles or so about various races, training etc. Just after we started the second loop of the marathon I started to feel good so I picked up my pace a little to get the miles done. I paid the price in the latter stages of the race and in hindsight probably would’ve been better running with Nick the whole way. 

 I quite like two lap courses because you can break it up into chunks and I like to know what to expect. I was enjoying the run but then hit a bit of a rough patch around mile 23. To be fair it was all a bit of a rough patch with how muddy and windy it was but anyway (such a fair weather, road runner!). Around mile 23 my left quad start playing up, this wasn’t ideal with lots of stiles to negotiate but I took my time and waddled my way round the last four miles or so. My legs were battered and the hills were horrible near the end. I definitely need to do more trail miles and hill sessions to keep doing more races like this. Once I got to mile 26 I was so relieved as I knew the ordeal was nearly over. What I didn’t know was how long that last mile or so would take; the answer is a long time.

I was within half a mile from the finish running down a nice trail towards a gate. I was starting to feel pleased with myself knowing I was about to finish the race and then a massive gust of wind blew my Advent Running trucker cap off my head. A few girls doing the 10k flew passed and straight through the gate with no problems. I on the other hand turned so quickly to chase after my cap that I tripped over some long grass and aggravated my right hamstring. I then hobbled down the hill, that my cap had just rolled down, to collect it whilst trying to stretch my hammy. I turned back round to head up the hill, I initially didn’t have to climb, where two runners glided through the gate; they were both looking strong and had clearly paced their runs well. One of the runners was Nick. I went through the gate and shuffled down the hill to the finish. I was a little annoyed I had slipped (pun intended) from 9th to 11th within the matter of seconds but it was one of those things. I crossed the line and was relieved to complete the race. I feel lucky to have got through it and not get injured. I learnt a lot! 

 The trucker cap made for adventure 

Well done to everyone that raced at the weekend whether it was the trailscape race, endurancelife, a various santa run or parkrun etc (oh yeh parkrun isn’t a race, my bad!). Next up for me is the Mo Santa Olympic Park thingy next Sunday. That will be my last race of 2015, should be fun. I hope everyone else’s Advent Running is going well too.

See a lot of you soon 

Steve

P.s. I’m now stocked up for Advent Running and training for Paris, London & Edinburgh marathons 

 

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