This weekend it all came good. After the Sandwell Six Towns Challenge yesterday I covered my legs in Tiger Balm and was still feeling good in the evening. Nutrition wise it wasn't ideal. Unusally I didn't feel that hungry after running, eating just three mini Milky Ways, a pain au chocolate and some toast between finishing the race and bed. Although the six pints of beer probably helped! I still felt good when I went to bed, but didn't bother printing the maps in advance as I was sure I would wake up too sore to run.
The alarm went off at 5:45 this morning and I felt OK, so I reluctantly packed up and set off for Conington, near Cambridge. The Pathfinder event is named after the Second World War Pathfinder Squadrons which flew from airfields in the surrounding area. This one is a joint event between the LDWA and 73Sqn walking club. Superb organisation - its only £6 to enter which includes the usual set of directions and squash and biscuits at the checkpoints. And there was a grill tent going so I had an egg bap and tea for a much needed breakfast.
Actually the directions were better than usual, with 83 numbered steps. Most LDWA directions are detailed and accurate but when formatted in long paragraphs its hard to keep your place while running.
So at 8:30am I set off alongside the other runners (most of the walkers had already departed ). I began tentatively, I could feel the effects of yesterday's run but they weren't so bad. I'd planned to go off conservatively on this one, with a view to running the first half and then walking most of the second half as I disintegrated! But it went much better than that. I broke the run into six minute chunks and walked the last 40-50 seconds of each chunk, which was just enough to let me keep going. And this didn't slow me down compared to the runners alongside me - I'd always quickly catch them again before my next walking break.
We passed through the village of Hilton, then on to the Pathfinder Walk itself, through Graveley and Yelling and Papworth Everard. After the third checkpoint at Elsworth, there was about 3km South, pretty much turn around and another 2km North, which was demoralising and the return leg was into a strong headwind. I'd been feeling cold much of the run and was glad I'd worn my Rat Race buff. This felt like the longest leg up to the last checkpoint at Lolworth, but I kept plodding on and was surprised that only a couple of 100 marathon club runners passed me on this leg. I might have been finding it tough, but it appeared most others were too.
By this point I was eating peanuts or Jelly Babies on almost every walk break but just kept moving, knowing there was only 7km from Lolworth to the finish. Fortunately the course was fairly flat with a few gentle inclines. I don't think I would have coped with something like the Baslow Boot Bash! I picked up over the last couple of miles with the thought of finally completing two marathons on two consecutive days and really pushed it to finish in 4:37:09.
All in all, not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Yes, my legs were tired from the previous marathon but by taking it at a slow, steady pace and getting enough food and water down at regular intervals I managed it.