Saturday, 28 June 2014

Classic Quarter

Number 3 on my #40before40 list was to beat the time that I recorded on last year's Classic Quarter second leg.

For those that don't know, the Classic Quarter is a 44 mile ultramarathon in Cornwall that starts at Lizard Point and finishes at Land's End.

You can either run the whole race as a solo entry, or take part in a relay - two or four people.

For the second year running I took part in a four person team and tackled the second leg, which starts at Gunwalloe Church Cove and ends at Perranuthanoe. 

The leg is just under 13 miles and takes in some amazing coastline and some incredibly steep parts, especially around Rinsey Head.

Richard Wadman from Francis Clark, who ran the whole marathon last year, was in charge of getting the team together.

In fact, three of last year's team remained in place: Simon Choak, Kirsti Ashworth and myself. 
The only change was Richard coming in for Jez Mancer, who decided to take on the whole 44 miles this time.

After a 4.30am alarm call on Saturday 7th June, which didn't go down too well with Mrs P, Richard picked me up in Truro at 5.15am and we headed down to the Lizard Point.

12 months earlier Simon and I found ourselves driving down to the start in torrential rain, lightening and thunder. 

The weather was much more favourable this year, although we did have thunder, lightening and rain the night before.

Richard and I registered, picked up our race numbers and listened to the briefing before the first leg runners set off around 7am.

My race number

Richard Wadman and myself at Lizard Point. Richard ran the first leg, which started at 7am

I then hopped into Richard's car and drove round to Gunwalloe Church Cove and got ready.

Having a cup of green tea selfie in the car park at Gunwalloe while waiting for Richard

The checkpoint at Gunwalloe Church Cove

Richard arrived at the first checkpoint around 8.25am after making good progress on the first leg.

I set off at a steady pace determined to beat last year's time.

The big thing for me last year was that I found I ate too much before the start and felt sick for the first part, but then ran out of energy.

As well as fitness sessions with Felicia Sheingold, I have also been getting some nutrition tips.

I had leftover frittata around 6.30am followed by porridge around 7am - Felicia suggested I avoid the porridge and go for more protein, before having some other carbs.

Porridge has become a bit of a pre-event staple for me - I even have it before midweek football matches - so I felt slightly unsure about changing before such a big event.

What made me feel sick last year was following the porridge with two peanut butter and jam wraps.

This year I swapped the wraps for two rice cakes and made a peanut butter and jam rice cake sandwich.

It was much better on the stomach.

Last year's run had been tough and the rain before the start made the path tricky and very slippy, especially the hilly parts.

Without that, I found the course to be much better to run on.

Although mainly on the coastpath, we ran across the beach at Loe Bar, as well as on the road around Porthleven harbour.

The first half to Porthleven is a nice run. It's the next part that takes in Rinsey which is tough.

There are some incredibly steep hill climbs and descents where it is only possible to walk, although I'm sure there were a few participants who enjoyed running up and down those sections.

Last year I found the mental battle the hardest part of the race, although it was physically tiring, simply because there are no mile / km markers that you'd find in a normal road race.

At the time it felt like it would never end.

This year was slightly easier mentally as I knew the course and had an idea of how much further I had to go.

Physically I found it tough. I guess that as well as the nature of the course, a lot of that was done to the fact that I had less time to train for the event as the end of the football season took up a huge chuck of time (six games in 18 days in early May).

For the last couple of miles I had really bad cramp in both carves, thighs and my left groin. Getting over the granite and wooden styles, or rock parts of the path, became more challenging. At one point I found myself frozen halfway over a style as both legs cramped up.

One of Felicia's suggestions to help my energy was to take walnuts inside dates. I put six in my pocket and found they really helped as fatigue set it.

I struggle to eat when I'm running as I find I get uncomfortable, but as soon as I had the first one I could feel my body craving more.

Despite the cramp I managed to summon up the energy for a sprint finish, where I handed over the timing chip to Simon to run the third leg.

Unofficial finish time on iPhone

Richard then drove round to Lamorna Cove to wait for Simon, and then join Kristi to provide moral support in the last leg to Land's End.

After getting dressed very slowly due to more cramp I drove home to eat a big lunch.

My official time in 2013 was 2:35:48.

This year I did it in 2:23:52.

I managed to knock 11 minutes 56 seconds off my time.

When the results came through I did feel slightly disappointed as I'd aimed to knock 15 to 20 minutes off, but on reflection I am pretty pleased with that.

It also gives me a target to beat next year!

Jelly Babies at the end of the leg - they've never tasted so good

End of run feeling exhausted and hurting from cramp selfie

My finishers running T-shirt and medal to add to my collection

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