Be Careful What You Wish For! East Down AC runner Paul Lloyd reminisces on how he came to run a marathon on Saturday 11th July 2020! writes Joe Quinn.
East Down AC’s Paul Lloyd said: “It all started because I said I had entered a 15-mile race in June, to be run all in one go or over as may days as you like. It was just to make sure no-one felt under pressure.
“But I said I wanted to do it in a single outing, just to have something to remember Covid-19 for!
“My friend and experienced clubmate, Dee Murray said why not go for the full 26.2 miles just to make it a memorable challenge.
“I said ‘wise up’, but he replied, ‘sure come on give it a go’. Well I hadn’t ran anything like that distance since the Belfast Marathon in 2018 but as he added ‘if we target 11th July as the actual date for the run it would give us 5/6 weeks to build up the long runs, doing 16,18,19,21,11 miles each week then the 26.2”, I relented.
“Not what I’d call proper marathon training, but at least it would get my head around long slow running again. So that’s what we did.
“I even drove around our proposed route the week before to set out mile markers in my head at least so that I’d know where we were at any given time.
“We planned to run at 8 to 8.15 minutes per mile and so I was able to notify East Down AC members when I would be at specific points on the course, in the hope that some of them could be there to support us, or better still, join in and run a few miles with us.
“This turned out to be an excellent decision as Tom McClean accompanied us from the start on his bike until we picked up 6 or 8 runners at the Club rooms in Downpatrick.
“Martin Willcox joined us a bit further on and a friend of ours ran from Crossgar to the finish line in Killyleagh. Not to mention young Mackenzie Murray, Dee’s son, who also joined in for a few miles.
“Mackenzie’s sister Kelsey also ran the last 2 miles with us too and I cannot thank enough those friends and family including my wife and kids who turned out at various points from Annacloy onwards, as it really helped us get to the end, especially the last 10K from Crossgar when the going got tough.
“I must give a special word of thanks to Dee’s wife Janine, who drove round the entire route and kept us well supplied with water.”
Paul Lloyd said: “We weren’t actually chasing a time so we were delighted to finish in 3 hours and 35 minutes, which was just outside our planned 8 minute mile pace.
“I was struggling at the finish to be honest and while I’ve no other challenges in mind at the moment I’ll probably do something as it gives me something to aim for and keeps me motivated while training on my own.
“Overall I enjoyed the run although I was sore all over on Sunday but it was great to do it in the time. However one thing is certain there’ll be no more marathons. I certainly won’t mention any thoughts to Dee again, and I’ve told him to keep his ideas to himself in future!!”
Joe Quinn said: “I must say that the route chosen by Paul and Dee is well known to me as it was on the roads around Magheraleggan, Seaforde, Annadorn and Kilmore that I used to do all my training for marathons over the years.
“But had I been asked for advice I’d have recommended running the route the opposite way round.
“Not for any reason other than that I believe it to be less hilly that way!
“That’s probably a matter of opinion and having said that it was probably a matter of when and where you’re starting from?
“Leaving at 7.30am on Saturday it was probably the best choice to head for the County town before traffic built up, to keep reasonably safe, and then have the return through Kilmore and Crossgar when the roads would still be relatively traffic free.”
WHERE WAS I?
Joe Quinn added: “I had fully intended to meet up with the duo and any companions at around Hollymount Church at 10 miles or at Annadorn at 15 miles but having awakened at 6 o’clock I’m afraid that I was beyond the call of any runner at the respective times.
“So well done to everyone who did make it to their pre-determined contact point on time and to everyone who helped in any way to lend assistance to our two brave runners.
“Is there any truth in the rumour that this will now become a Club Tradition and result in the completion of the distance every year from now on?
“Over to you Paul and Dee?”