3 Marathons at 30 - Mission Accomplished
I began this year with a New Year's Day run - 15 miles along the muddy Cleveland Way and the Cinder Track. It was the first race of the Hardmoors 2016 series - and I really enjoyed it.
Moving on from that event I decided to set myself the challenge of completing the Hardmoors 26.2 Goathland Trail Marathon. I'd run the half marathon distance twice before and really enjoyed both events. But I've always been drawn to the longer distance and this year I decided to for it.
Having made that decision, I joined the gym (who were really helpful) and set about training. This was early in the year, and my November target seemed a long way off. To fill the gap I signed up for 2 additional marathons with Goathland being the final event I would undertake in 2016.
I'm quite pleased to say that it's all over now. I completed all 3 runs, raised a bit of cash for charity and got myself fit in the process. Goathland was the hardest run I've ever undertaken - by a long way. Due to a little 'detour' I ended up running nearly 29 miles, almost entirely off road and over some incredibly tough terrain.
As 1 leg almost entirely disappeared into a bog with 5 miles to go I pulled a muscle, which reduced my to less than walking pace fo the last stretch. That, coupled with attrocious weather, put my hopes of a sub 5 hour finish well beyond reach and I limped home in nearly 6 hours. Not my finest performance - but an extreme challenge I am so pleased to have undertaken.
It's easy to think of the pain - the hours spent training in all weathers. The disappointment of not hitting my target times. But really, the highs far outweigh the lows.
My favourite of the 3 events was definitely the Endurance Life North York Moors event in October. Knowing the route, enjoying a wonderfully sunny day and having my family appear at every possible checkpoint made this even totally enjoyable from start to finish.
The first run (24 miles in 20+C near Guisborough in August) was my favourite from a scenery perspective. Having not run in that area before it was nice to be surrounded by a different landscape. I won't forget running down a steep hill into Kildale, with some kind of bird of prey circling overhead squawking - it probably thought I was about to die and would be an easy meal. Reaching the top of Roseberry Topping was a killer - but what a view!
Completing Goathland Marathon was always my aim. So despite the weather, the slow time and the injury I honestly say I enjoyed it - and perhaps will do it again some day. But for now - time to focus on other things.
Running marathons is hard work. Fitting it in around family, work, church and all my other commitments has been tough. Megan will be glad to have her husband back, and the children their dad.
I will keep on running - but might lay off the >20 mile distances for a while!