Milton Keynes marathon race review

Milton Keynes marathon was my big goal race of the year, a PB attempt and an attempt to crack 3.20 for the first time. The theory being that training for the Quadzilla gave me a great base to work from in the 10 weeks leading up to the race. All was going well until 5 weeks before the race when we went on holiday to Cornwall, a great week with the kids and some nice running on the coastal path but I lost my focus and momentum and quite honestly never got it back. The final few weeks of training were ok but I missed a few sessions for various reasons and then a week before the race got ill. Somehow the stresses of life and work often seem to peak close to a race, Murphy’s law I guess, but it quickly derails your running.

Ultimately this meant a change in goal for the race from a PB attempt to just being happy to be well enough to be on the start line.  And what a start line it is, lining up outside the beautiful Stadium MK (which I know sounds a bit odd but it really is a great stadium inside and out) and to top it all the clouds cleared and the sun put his hat on. While it may have been a nice start line it was most definitely not an organised one, in fact I’d go as far as to say it was chaos. The kids superhero run lining up at the front didn’t help things but there was also close to zero control of people entering the pens and the signage was crap.

There also appeared to be a confusion amongst the pacers who seemed to be standing in quite random spots, not helped by having both marathon and half marathon starters and pacers in the pens. I’d love to know whose bright idea it was to stick balloons to the pacers backs with their time goal written in felt tip on them also. Maybe the budget wouldn’t stretch to the normal flags that pacers wear? The strings were getting tangled up and then when actually running the balloons kept hitting people in the face.

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Race day bullshit

There are 2 types of people at the start of a race; first there are those like me who get quite nervous and deal with it by finding a bit of peace and calm to focus and prepare themselves for the challenge ahead. We fidget a little, do some pointless half arsed stretching and remind ourselves that we’re ready. Then there those people who’s nerves get too much to contain and they fight their way out of the persons mouth in the form of mainly pointless chatter.  This chatter is normally fairly harmless “what you aiming for today” “is this your first time doing this race” “where are you from”, but it inevitably descends into a self depreciating competition of who is going to do the worst. Maybe it’s a British thing, we don’t like to shout about ourselves so why would we be as bold as to say we think we’re going to be awesome? Whatever the reason the bullshit you hear in a starting pen would have a lie detector test flashing red very quickly

It doesn’t matter how big or small the race is either but there is definitely a correlation between the distance being run and the amount of bullshit you hear with a multisport race adding an extra bonus level because the bullshit has more than one sport to cover. With it being peak spring marathon season I thought I’d share my top 3 bullshit phrases you’re bound to hear. If you’re nervous like me at the start of a race why not play your own game of bullshit bingo and see if you can tick them all off.

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Quadzilla race review

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.

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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. […]

Taking on the Quadzilla

Any race with a name like THE QUADZILLA (said in the style of the xfactor announcer) is clearly not going to be a walk in the park, although technically it is in a park, and in this case it involves 4 marathons in 4 days. If you say that quickly it doesn’t sound too bad, at least that’s what I’ve been telling myself. I’ve been trying to not to think about running a marathon with the DOMS from 3 marathons in my legs. I remember after my first marathon being able to barely walk down the stairs the next day let alone think about going out and running another one.

But what I love about running is that these challenges exist, that if you so desire you don’t have to ‘just’ run a marathon. You can do one off road, on an island, in the jungle, in the desert, multiple in one day, multiple days in a row the list goes on. At the moment I can’t see myself settling down and doing the same time of races each year, I need the variety to keep me mentally challenged as much as anything. I also like to get out of my comfort zone, the same reason I did a triathlon last year, challenge myself in a different way.

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Sleepwalker night race review

When you find yourself thigh deep in a bog in the Brecon Beacons at 8pm on a Saturday night you do have to question your sanity. Especially when you’ve voluntarily ended up there and are doing it for ‘fun’. Although in a strange, slightly sadistic kind of way it actually was fun, I may even have laughed as I tried to climb out of the bog and find some ground that was a bit more solid.

The reason I found myself in this situation was the Sleepwalker night race, quite a low key event with about 45 entrants that starts and finishes in the small village of Talybont on Usk with just the 20 miles and 744m of ascent in between. As the name suggests it’s run at night with the start at 6pm, I’m told the route has some beautiful views but all I saw was the 2 metres of mud and water in front of me lit up by my head torch. That was of course when I wasn’t trying to keep the driving rain out of my eyes or shelter from the 40mph winds.  This really wasn’t a race for the faint hearted and I’ll be honest I was glad I was running it with my brother and not completely solo.

Sleepwalker night race route profile

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