Things are getting scary. I’ve just received the itinerary for the Marathon des Cote (MdC), the 180 mile plus beast I’ll be doing in three months. It looks awful, but I can’t wait. So this week I’m heading to Wales to try out some of the route. See the schedule below (the runs marked MdC will be on the route).
But if I were a superstitious type, I’d be freaking out right now. For the first thing that struck me when I opened the itinerary from the chaps at MdC was this: the first day will cover exactly 66.6 miles. Most people will vaguely associate that number, 666, with something iffy. Bible scholars, satanists or heavy metal fans will probably be able to tell you why.
Apparently, 666 is the number, or name, of a sea monster with seven heads and 10 horns that emerges from the sea in the Book of Revelation. Devil worshippers later adopted it as the sign of Satan himself. Heavy metal gods Iron Maiden named one of their best albums, 666 Number of the Beast, after it. Rock on!
So I know what will be on my Spotify when I hit the Pembrokeshire Coast Path on Saturday for my first dummy run for the MdC. This is week 11 of training for the MdC, and my third ‘intense’ week. I should rack up about 70 miles, all being well. Saturday’s run will take in around 22 miles (so about a third) of the route for day two of the MdC. Sunday’s will cover the final 15 miles or so of the course.
The runs will give me a taste of the type of terrain I’ll face in June, answering my worries about whether I’m training on the right type of hills and giving me an idea of the kind of shoes and kit I’m going to need. Most of all, it will give some indication of whether or not I’m completely mental for thinking I might be able to complete the course in three days. No one is known to have done it in less than four.
But it won’t give me any inkling of just how deliriously, bleary eyed, slack jawed knackered I’m going to be during the MdC, and what impact that will have on my ability to keep running. I suspect that lack of sleep might turn out to be an even bigger factor than the miles in the MdC.
According to the itinerary that arrived this week, the MdC will start at 4am on Friday 15 June and all runners will have until midnight that day to complete the 66.6 miles of the first leg. It is mandatory to take at least four hours rest before starting the next leg, so for the following two days start times are staggered at 4am, 7am and 9am.
The conundrum is this: Do I run faster to maximise the time I have to sleep and ease my aching muscles at the end of the day? Or do I run slower to avoid shredding my legs? At the moment I’m thinking I’ll go all out so I can spend as much time as possible recovering.
See, I know what I’m like when I go without sleep. After two nights of just four hours sleeping, it’s questionable whether I’d even know which way I was supposed to be running. I might even end up seeing a beast with seven heads and 10 horns coming out of the sea. But I suppose that might help me run faster.
Have you done anything as batshit mental as this? Any tips would be gladly received!