I’d done the Pumpkin marathon before so I knew broadly what I was in for. I’d planned to take it really easy for the first one, and I did for the most part. I ran the whole thing, despite thinking I should probably walk the short steep-ish climb that follows the CP each time. I did faff about quite a bit at the CP in the second half though, stopping for coke of jelly beans I didn’t really need having only run 0.8miles since the last stop.
I had a few good chats with runners I sort of knew from other races, and Adam and Gill were there again (doing an alternative double running the same route the next day) so it was cool to see them every few laps. The conditions were perfect, dry underfoot, sun shining, and about 15 degrees which was great.
I pretty much drifted around for most of it, I only remember looking at my watch twice, once at around 1:28 and another right at the end. Even though I was getting my lap card punched each time we came around I wasn’t really paying attention to it until it was nearly full of holes, and I was surprised at the end to finish in 3:59.
That gave me three hours to kill, so I had a burger off Denzil’s barbecue, shuffled back to the car, and drove to Stirchley Leisure Centre down the road to get showered and changed for the next one.
I felt pretty bright standing at the start for the second time, although I knew that wouldn’t last. My plan was just to run well for as long as could, get the first ten laps out of the way, and just gut it out for the rest. As it was, the first ten laps flew by. I felt great, and was running at exactly the same pace I was earlier. I sort of expected that, as odd as it is I’ve started to think 40 miles is about my optimum distance, and I was pretty happy up to that point. Even once the headtorch was on it didn’t seem to make much difference. Then somewhere around 13 laps I started to struggle. My legs were ok, but I felt generally tired and a bit queasy. I slowed a bit, tried to eat, and made a few toilet stops, all of which killed my pace. At about lap 16 I started walking the one steep hill, which was only a hundred metres or so long, but it felt like a break and it was nice to start the descent feeling fresh, instead of shagged from just running up the other side.
Having avoided any caffeine gels earlier I snaffled a couple between laps 16-20, and when I hit lap 21 with only 10 more to go I felt quite a bit better. I wasn’t getting any quicker, but it wasn’t feeling any worse, and I was making good enough time to get in under 5 hours – which was more about getting home before midnight than a goal time.
It had started to rain a bit at this point, not much, but enough to make me think about getting my waterproof on. I decided against it though as it was still pretty warm and I was still moving quickly enough. Then came the last five laps, which proved that all the suffering up to that point had been psychological. Once the end was in sight I felt great, was happily ticking off every bit of every lap in my head, and looking forward to getting home.
My Garmin crapped out somewhere in the last few laps, but I finished somewhere around 4:40 which I was happy enough with. Under 9 hours for a hilly 52 miles (albeit with a big break in the middle) felt pretty good, and although I was nowhere near the front, I was nowhere near broken either. With a week and a half until I have to do five marathons in a row, each with more ascent than these two put together, I was happy I’d gone easy enough to not do any real damage.