A Journey of a 1000 miles starts with a single step

Jersey Marathon - Oct 2008 Jersey Marathon 2008

This year I return to Jersey to see the Headway members again and run in the Standard Chartered Jersey Marathon in Association with Headway, with the objective of achieving my target time of 3:30.

Last year I had the same target time of 3:30 (see account of my visit), but completed in 3:43. So this year I have to improve my time by 13 minutes, which I feel that I should be able to do. Last year was the first time that I had ever raced a marathon, I have run several but it is alot harder to race one.

We are also making a long weekend and seeing the sights of Jersey and for this reason we are travelling to Jersey by ferry and bringing a tandem to ride around the island on. We planned to camp near Weymouth and ride down for the scheduled 10am departure of the ferry on the morning of 4th Oct.

Friday the forecast for Saturday was for very strong wind so I phoned Condor to check that the Fast Ferry was still going to be running. They said that the one from Poole was cancelled but the Weymouth one was still going to run, but leaving 2 hours earlier than scheduled because the winds were forecast to get stronger as the day went on.
We drove down on Friday evening and despite having driven through Blanford Forum frequently in the past to go climbing at Swanage, I managed to take a wrong turn and we did not realise until we had gone for ˝ hour in the wrong direction.
When we eventually got to Weymouth the campsites appeared deserted, Janet suggested getting a B&B in town. This turned out to be a good idea, not only was it only 5 minutes ride from the ferry terminal but they has secure parking where we could leave the car until we returned.

Saturday we left too early in the morning for a breakfast but we ate some of the cereal, which we had brought for camping, out of a plastic cup in the room.
We packed the two panniers and Janet’s small rucksack with what we needed and left the car in the secure parking.
The ferry crossing was not too rough even though the wind was quite strong.
We had booked into the Norfolk Lodge Hotel which has a discounted rate for marathon runners. Riding through St Hillier reminded me of another reason not to have a car there, the streets are a nightmare of One-ways and No-Entries, we ended up walking the tandem on the pavement a lot.
We walked down to the Standard Chartered Bank to pick up my race number, then walked back via the marathon start so we would have some idea of how long it would take in the morning, about 20 minutes.
We went to the Pasta Party in the evening and met some of the other runners; a lot of the people there seemed to be taking part in the relay rather than the marathon. I did speak to Michelle Buckle (who was the first lady in last year) and the Henry Wanyioke and Joseph Kibunja all of whom I had met at last years Jersey Marathon.
There was quite a lot of discussion about the weather, rain and 35mph winds gusting to 40+ were forecast.

Sunday got up for the early breakfast that the hotel had laid on for the runners and then changed into my race gear with waterproof trousers and jacket over the top for the walk down to the start.
It was very windy and raining as forecast, we walked down and joined the huddle of runners sheltering behind one of the marquees.
As the race start time drew near we moved down to the start where I met Andrew, Judy and Mark of Headway who I had met last year. Mark was running the others were supporting. Mark said we’d be welcome to join them at the Le Coie centre on Monday evening.
It was still raining and very windy but not cold. I decided to wear a hat but passed Janet my waterproofs just as the gun went off for the start.
The initial few miles around the town was alternately sheltered and then into the strong wind.
As we left the town I saw Sharon of Headway, and then Janet before I settled into pace for the marathon.
The long drag up Waterworks Valley was sheltered from the wind and was mainly under trees so mostly out of the heaviest rain.
I reached to top of Waterworks Valley, the wind and rain had not let up at all and now was less sheltered. I passed and re-passed a couple of girls for the next few miles.
I had been passed by a couple of relay team runners by the ˝ marathon point which I reached in 1:46, which was 1 minute faster than last year so was looking promising for a 3:30 target time despite the unpleasant weather.

Wet but warm through some woods
The stretch to the airfield was generally into the wind or at least with the wind blowing across. Around the perimeter of the airfield I fell in with another runner and we kept pace with each other until around the 20 mile point were I slowed for a drink and he pulled ahead and gradually pulled away from me until I had lost sight of him going down the Corbiere Railway Walk to St Aubin.
I was passed my more relay teams, I did try keeping up with them as they went past by just couldn’t increase my pace.
Along the sea front we had the wind from behind for the last 2 miles and unlike last year I was not passed by a constant stream of people.
I knew roughly where the finish was in relation to the town skyline and the St Hellier Eye that was just near the start/finish, but until I was about ˝ mile away even the Eye was not visible through the mist/cloud/rain.
I crossed the finish line in 3:43.??, I knew that last year I had done it in 3:43 something as well.

Finishing with a grey sky
I must have looked a bit grey when I finished because both Janet and one of the marshals asked me if I was OK.
Once I have the silver blanket around me to keep the wind out my colour very quickly returned to normal.

Warming up at the end
Janet found the massage tent I had my calves massaged and my shoulder which was suddenly quite painful for some reason.
After the massage I put on my waterproofs to keep the wind out and we walked back up to the hotel.
I had a warm bath and then dozed until we went out for a walk to loosen my legs up and get something to eat.

Monday morning was nice and leisurely after the last couple of early mornings. The weather this morning was drier than and not as windy as the previous day which suited both Janet and I for our ride up to the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. The Trust is at one of the higher points of the island and we had to pause at one point when my legs didn’t want to pedal any more.
Outside of St Hellier there was virtually no traffic on the roads that we rode on, all the cars seem to be trapped in the one way systems of the town. We only had one very light shower as we rode up.
We wandered around the enclosures seeing the animals and in some cases being there at the time a brief talk was being done.
We sat on a bench for a bit in the sun which was now shining. Michelle Buckle and her family went past; Michelle said that even in the weather of yesterday she had finished faster than last year.
We had lunch at the Trust then had a nice gentle downhill ride to the hotel.
After changing out of out biking clothes we walked along to the Le Coie centre to join the Headway members for their evening meal. After the meal we played Monopoly and I convincingly lost.

Tuesday was a lazy day wandering around St Hellier and seeing a film before getting the evening ferry back to Weymouth. The crossing from Jersey to Guernsey was a bit unpleasant; although the winds had died down a lot there were still big rollers which made me feel quite queasy. Guernsey to Weymouth was better. We pushed the tandem off the ferry then as we started to ride back to the hotel we had a puncture, so leaving Janet to push the tandem back I ran on ahead to get the car from the secure parking. We drove home with no wrong turns in 1 ˝ hours.

Summary a good weekend despite the weather:
I had run the marathon 9 seconds faster than last year, at this rate it is going to take me some time to get to 3:30. The runner who I was with around the airfield finished a couple of minutes before me.
It was nice to meet up with the Headway Jersey people again.
We had been to the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust when we were there on a climbing trip in 1996 but I could not remember it at all so that was worth going back to as well.