Lindsay and I running along on the Boundary Run

Cambridge Boundary Run (Marathon)

The Cambridge Boundary Run is a marathon (~26.2 miles) race that will take me around the boundaries of Cambridge. The course traverses roads, footpaths and trails, with about 30% of the race being off road. The race is organised by the Cambridge University Hare & Hounds, the university cross-country running club.

Apparently it is not a fast marathon, which is good because I strongly suspect that I am unable to do a fast marathon. However, I’ll be attempting to do it in under 3 hours 59 minutes because Wikipedia tells me that Ronan Keating did it in 3:59:33. I can’t let myself get beaten by Ronan Keating.

The run itself is on Sunday 6th March 2016 and there are currently still places available, so if you fancy signing up and joining me then visit the Cambridge University Hare & Hounds website.


Update 1: 16/01/16

I was told that I would need to train to do a marathon, so I went out today for my first run since Christmas. I wanted to see whether I could do a full marathon distance without training. It turns out that I couldn’t. I managed 35 km in 3:05:20. I moving awfully slowly at the end. I ran out of energy. I probably should have taken some water and a chocolate bar with me. I’ll try again next week.

Update 2: 24/01/16

Oh god, that was difficult. Saturday is currently long run day. I was still a little bit tired from the last one, but I decided to go for it anyway. It did not go well. I can’t say that I enjoyed myself all that much. I started slowly and I felt tired as early as 15 km in. Other than the odd brief spurt at 33 km, I spent most of the remainder of the run just trying to prevent my brain from telling my legs to quit. I walked for a few hundred metres at 27 km, my legs cramped up at 29 km and after some energy gel things I pushed on. The wheels came off at 37 km. At 40 km I was sure I wouldn’t make it. I rolled over the marathon distance finish line at 4:15:02. I then spent the next five hours trying to recover, I felt ill, dizzy, my stomach was tying itself in knots. That was exhausting. My advice for doing a marathon can be summed up as this: don’t.

Update 3: 31/01/16

Running a full marathon distance immediately after going 24 hours with zero calorie intake is usually not recommended. Somehow everything went better than expected. I took water and the remains of my chocolate brownies and decided to see how far I could go. The first 22 km were fairly consistent and I actually rather enjoyed them. I slowed down a bit for the next 15 km and time started to drag. I got a little bit bored. The last 5 km were difficult, but nowhere near as bad as they had been a week before. I wobbled over the line, but reckon I still had a little bit left in the tank, which is promising. Somehow the Nike+ running app claims my new fastest marathon was 3:42:11. I think it’s lying. I did 42.58 in 3:46:37, so I’m going to claim somewhere around 3:44 as my time. That’s not too shabby, and it only took me 90ish minutes to recover, so much better than last time out. Now I have to force myself to run midweek and do less miles on a Saturday.

Update 4: 18/02/16

Well, this month hasn’t been quite as successful as the last month. I eased back a bit on the running for the first week of February, to make sure I didn’t injure myself, before picking it up a bit more for the second week of February, where I managed to injure myself again. My knee crapped out on me for Valentine’s Day and I’ve not been out for a run since. I’m not entirely sure I’ll be running this weekend either. I’m not back on crutches or anything serious, but my knee varies between minor niggly pain and uncomfortable dull ache. I’m still pretty sure that it will hold together to survive the boundary run in a couple of weeks, but I’m not optimistic about setting a good time. I’m reverting to a bit of strength training and some stretching to try and repair things as best as possible. My 50-mile race is now a very scary prospect.

Update 5: 29/02/16

Oh dear. Well the wheels well and truly fell off my wagon here. The plan was to blast out a good 35km and feel absolutely awesome about next week’s run. Things did not go to plan. I was only 22 km into my run when my plan really started to unravel. My left knee really started hurting and my internal adductor on my right side started tightening up, just to even up the pain. I dragged myself round to a slow, miserable 29 km. I’m not entirely convinced that next week’s marathon is going to be anything other than slow and painful. I’m going to give it a go regardless, even if I have to crawl over the finish line I’m not backing out.

Update 6: 07/03/16 – Final Update

Boom! That was fun. I did not expect to be saying that, but it actually went really well. My day started with my housemate, Cassie, kindly getting up early to drive me to the start line. Apparently jogging 2.5 miles to the start of a marathon had been a stupid idea.

I got my number (548) pinned it to myself and generally readied to start. I’d had a tin of energy drink and I had a pocket-full of chocolate brownies. I was quietly confident. Lindsay, a mad friend and former housemate, was planning to run the thing in under 4 hours, so I thought I’d run alongside her for the first part of the marathon. We ended up running together most the way, gossiping about stuff while overtaking people who were slowing down at the end of the half-marathon.

She had been told it wasn’t well marked, but there were signs and flour marks everywhere and finding our way didn’t prove to be a problem at all. The flour marks were reminiscent of a hash, even more so when we passed a BN (Beer Near) mark. We completed the half-marathon in 1:52:32 and continued on.

Lindsay started feeling rough at the 18 mile mark, which was totally understandable given she had set a personal best at the Cambridge Half-Marathon the week before. We had a brief rest and a gossip with one of the CUHH people, Joan at the water station before continuing on. My knee was sore at this point, and every time we slowed I felt it starting to lock up. Somewhere just after mile 19, I had to leave Lindsay behind, and continued on where I met some guy who seemed to be going at a reasonable pace. I decided to have a bit of chinwag with him instead. He told me he had completed over 80 marathons, so I felt that I must be doing okay to keep up with him. We chatted to another runner that we passed, and she suggested that I should be aiming to complete my 50-miler in under 10 hours, which seems a bit optimistic, but it gives me a nice target. We left her behind and I continued talking to him until he seemed to tire around mile 22 or 23. I continued on my own from there in, but there were always people ahead of me who I could catch up with and overtake, which was fun.

For some reason there were lots of people walking up what could optimistically be called a hill (by the American Cemetery), and so I overtook a load of people there, before setting my fastest kilometre at 41 km into the race. Someone I overtook congratulated me for my strong finish, I just wanted to get to the end.
A few of the kickboxers I had been coaching had threatened to meet me at the finish line, and I’d made them give 100% in training throughout the uni term, I couldn’t give them any less here, so I ignored the cramp in my right calf (bad idea), and kept pushing. I managed a little bit of a sprint finish, which was fun, and crossed the line at a respectable time of 3:48:35. I only had to wait 9 minutes for Lindsay to cross the line too.

I then managed to sneak in a shower and start on some food before the kickboxers actually arrived in the hope of seeing me cross the finish line. I felt a little bit guilty for them arriving and not getting to see me finish, but also rather pleased that I beat them.

Overall I was rather pleased with how the whole thing went. It’s easy to be a bit disappointed about the time, I know for definite I could have knocked a few minutes off by pushing harder after the 18 mile mark, rather than waiting for 23 miles in. At the same time I’d been really cautious because my knee hurt for most the way around and I was worried it would just stop working at any point. So yeah, I completed my first official marathon. Go me!

My next running challenges are to run 1000km over the course of 2016, and to complete 30+ miles of the March, March March. The big one is still the 50-miler, but after how that marathon went, I’m actually feeling a little more confident about it.

You can check the results for the boundary run yourself here.

Lindsay and I running along on the Boundary Run

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