Wales Marathon 2016   12 comments


Lamphey Hall Hotel Lamphey yours truly


I have never taken a marathon seriously (see 2009 Snowdonia2012 London and 2014 Isle of Wight for examples of the sort of drunken fiasco my marathon efforts usually degenerate into) although some have only had a beer stop hosted by hashers to interrupt the flow (2006 Tucson M., 3h 19m) or a pub crawl till 4am ahead of an 8am starting gun (2006 Whiskey Row M., 3h 47 minutes but it was slow due to starting at 1 mile elevation and with 2 tough, continuous climbs of 1720 feet and 1400 feet while stinking of bourbon the entire race).


Wales Marathon Love Your Liver

Spotted after Manorbier: Of COURSE I love my liver. Why do you think I give it so much to do?


But, I intended to BQ this year (not for the sake of a Boston entry, but to have it as an option next year) and I wanted to do it on a hilly course so, despite a good selection of pubs on the course, I trained intending to at least try to treat the Wales Marathon with respect.  Busy at work and preparing to move house and a million aches and pains and every other excuse you’ve ever heard or said, this plan blew away like so much sand on the Coastal Path.


training log from 1 May 2016 to Wales Marathon


I mean, I ran the prescribed mileage (the blue trace on the chart shows my 7 day rolling sum back to the start of May with the planned training in red); but, I did very little of the ‘extras’ like stretching, speed work, proper nutrition.  And, those extras are especially important for us ancients.  I reckoned I should be happy to even finish this one as I found my place in the crowd at the start in Tenby.


Wales Marathon and Lamphey diversion

My marathon hotel was a B&B in the seaside village of Amroth, a hilly 6½ miles northeast of Tenby along the Welsh Coastal Path.  With no prospect of Sunday morning public transport, I had to jog to the start so at least I was limber and had a jump on sweating out the alcohol from the Coach and Horses (Tenby), the Royal Oak and the Old Chemist (Saundersfoot), and the New Inn and the Amroth Arms (Amroth) the night previous.  Sunrise was around 4:30 am so I missed daybreak; and, the tide, while noticeably rising during the trot, was still about midway between low and high.  Hard to complain, though.


Wales Marathon Pembroke Castle

Pembroke Castle ahead and near enough to the King’s Arms.


I ran the race in less clothing than I trained in (or, indeed, that I have run in since the trip to Bristol Tennessee, last September because, for a boy from the Deep South, it is still fucking cold here); the idea was not so much to decrease my load on the run but to encourage shorter pub breaks — I had to down the bevvies fast to beat the chill.  So to overcome the seaside shivers at the start, I wore an over layer of disposable sweats including this old favourite from a visit to the Gypsies In The Palace Hash (roughly in 2006, may 2007…goodbye, old, warm friend; the Kucinich 2004 shirt would join it at race end).


Wales Marathon Gypsies in the Palace shirt disposal


The race route at the start was too circuitous but not as bunched up as I feared (there were only 887 of us and a substantial number of those were just hoping to get all the way around).  The wind was howling and it was pissing down rain for the first hour and a half, but the route was protected by a high hedgerow on both sides of the road along the Ridgeway.  This obscured what was almost certainly a spectacular view but at least we were protected (somewhat).


2016-07-10 Wales Marathon official 2


I didn’t carry any nutrition on this one because every other of the frequent water stations was also a banana and Snickers bar stop.  And, of course, I would be packing in liquid carbs and B vitamins at the pubs, as soon as they were open as I passed.


Wales Marathon Manorbier Castle

Manorbier Castle


I only made it to one pub in Pembroke because most were not open till 12 (I had planned on two but the King’s Arms was my only refuge).  There were some close to the Half Marathon start but I didn’t think it prudent to leave the course with so many officials there; instead, at the turn toward Freshwater, I jogged up to one of the docents and asked if the pub nearby was open, yet.  He glanced at his watch then pointed off the wrong direction and said, “yes, but it’s….”  Not letting him finish, I started running down the wrong road which I realised when three or four spectators pointed and yelled, “no, over there.”  On my return from the Lamphey Hall Hotel, the crowd parted for me as I rejoined the pack.


2016-07-10 Wales Marathon official 3


We reached the coastline just after my stop in the Freshwater Arms but the hills were starting to take their toll on a lot of us.  I chatted with one guy I had passed a few times already and I think I diagnosed an IT band problem for him.  I offered to buy him a regenerative beverage at the Castle Inn in Manorbier, but eventually just passed him again sometime soon after.  It was good to see him finish shortly after I changed into my travel clothes.


2016-07-10 Wales Marathon official 1


So, it was a disappointing effort, in some ways.  About 4h 8m worth of disappointment, in fact, and I only came in slightly ahead of a guy who had been obviously suffering for at least 23 miles of the route.  Again, I could make excuses about going ¼ mile out of my way for the 2nd pub or starting the morning with a heavy-backpack-laden 10K after an afternoon of bar hopping the day before but none of that is especially unusual (I think the real excuse should just be that I’m old).  But, I ticked off another one and drowned my sorrows by returning to the Three Mariners (which had sent me away dry at 9:30 in the morning since their license locks their taps till 10).



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