I beat the Quadzilla, of course by beat I mean limped over the finish line battered and bruised, but victorious nonetheless. I even finished the final of the 4 marathons with my fastest 2km of the 4 days, amazing how you can find that extra burst when you know the end is in sight. Sitting here just over a week since finishing it all feels a little surreal really, running 8km at 6am this morning on trails frozen with a hard white frost felt like hard work, not entirely sure how I ran 4 marathons in 4 days.
But I did and I have the 4 medals to prove it. The first 2 marathons were actually quite easy, my metronomic pacing meant I finished them within 11 seconds of each other with day 2 being fractionally faster at 3:49:17. Amazing how doing a marathon 20 mins slower than your PB can feel so much easier, clearly tiring but I finished both days feeling good and nutrition before and after the races was working well.
Day 3 was a different story, as I crossed the finish line my first words to the other runners was ‘that was horrendous’ and it was. DOMS had kicked in big time from the prior 2 days and the weather was awful, 50 mph winds and periods of heavy rain did not make for a fun combination. The only option was to trudge it out and get it done with the added incentive of finishing in time to watch the rugby from the comfort of the bed in my hotel room. I had a pretty big wobble at 30km hitting the wall and wondering what the hell I was doing running around that lake. Your mind goes to some weird places when you’re running these challenges doesn’t it?
I started day 4 not sure I was going to be able to finish, my knee was stiff and painful and I was hobbling for the first few km’s. I did this race for charity and figured I’d have to at least walk to the finish rather than face not completing the challenge, but my legs started to loosen a little and I gradually picked the pace up. It also helped having my little brother and my wife join me for a few laps for some mindless chatter to distract me. Then it was the final lap, just 6km to finish at which point Pendulum – Slam came on my iPod, no better tune to pick you up and it has the perfect beat for pounding out the miles.
Finishing was pretty emotional if I’m honest, running 4 marathons in 4 days is mentally tough as much as physical and I felt quite drained on both counts. I’d put everything I had into completing this challenge and finishing such a challenge always brings such a mixed feeling of elation and relief doesn’t it? I was also quite relieved to be able to take my shoes off and stand in a hot shower for 20 minutes!
Having had some time to reflect I really pleased with 2 things; first my training, my plan worked really well with some good consistent mileage and lots of elevation gain to build strength, made a real difference when things got tough. Secondly my nutrition, I used High 5 gels every lap after lap 2 each race, I like how liquid the gels are and it kept me nicely topped up. My post race nutrition also worked well, chocolate milk and a banana immediately after the race then a regular trickle of Soreen, nuts and peanut butter sandwiches until I ate dinner. I seemed to recovery pretty well each day and I think my nutrition combined with some light stretching made a real difference.
The Quadzilla is a unique race, I’m not sure how many other opportunities there are in the UK to run 4 marathons in a row like this as part of an organised race and traffic free? It’s also a great set up for the runner with a Premier Inn and pub on the side of the lake and only 10 metres from the start line. Which means you can park up on the first day and not need to get in your car again until you finish, there is no worry about logistics to and from the race each day and you’re a short shuffle after each race to your room where if you’re anything like me you will have a full buffet set up to help with recovery.
Race wise it’s fairly simple, 7 laps of Caldecotte lake with 2 of the 4 days run in the opposite direction for a bit of variation. I really wasn’t sure how I’d feel about doing so much running around one short loop but it was actually ok. The lake is quite scenic with lots of small bays to run around plus plenty of wildlife to distract you. Mentally it also means that every 30 minutes or so you see a friendly face and can take on a gel if you want plus some water. There was an element of people dodging on the route though, particularly on the last day and the path isn’t always very wide. When you’re on day 4 it’s quite painful trying to dance around kids on bikes and dogs running loose.
So would I do the quadzilla again? Probably not, mainly because I don’t think I can face another lap of that bloody lake, I’m not a fan of road running at the best of times but this is definitely my limit. Give me trails and nature any day of the week. The second reason I don’t think I’d return is that I don’t think this race is the greatest value for money. It’s £39 a race for which you get some bottled water at the start/finish line each lap, a medal when you finish each race and a hoodie if you do all 4. But not a massive amount more, no marshals on the route, little in the way of food and no sports nutrition. That’s not to take away from the race organisers who were great, just not sure I’d pay that much again to repeat the experience.
Now I’m going to gently ease myself back into running and in a few weeks turn my thoughts to attempting a marathon PB at the Milton Keynes marathon. I see speed work in my future!