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For our second guest blog spot we will be interviewing Mary Menon from Exford, which is located in the stunning Exmoor National Park in the UK. Mary placed 1st female at the Endurancelife Jurassic Coast marathon in an amazing time of 4hrs 1min 45secs (Results), placing 3rd overall and just missing out on an overall 2nd place by 37 secs!!. The gap to the next female was just over 41 mins.
RF = Mary, congratulations on your 1st place at your recent race, and amazing result – how did the day go?
MM = Thank you for the congratulations, the race day all went according to plan, the weather was cold and dry and the ground was good for most of the marathon course. A friend of mine from a neighbouring running club was also racing and having run it before, he spoke to me about what to expect on the route which helped a lot, the first 3 miles of the course are super hilly and then settles into some very runnable sections before the gradients ram up again.
RF = From looking at the race splits it looks like you were running in second most of the day?
MM = A recce is always beneficial… Even if it’s a virtual one. I ran my own race from the very start, because of the Endurancelife format, other runners racing different distances are merging in with each other at points during the route so besides squinting at each other’s numbers, you can’t always determine who you’re actually racing. After settling in I felt good all the way round and enjoyed a fun morning in the beautiful Dorset countryside.
RF = You didn’t really taper down for the race recording a 57.8 mile week before the race including the Coombe Crawler, a 8.5 mile race and as the race site states ‘BRINGING YOU TO YOUR KNEES OVER 8.5 HILLY MILES‘. You’ve won that race over the past few years, 2015 – 01:12:43, 2016 – 01:04:42 and in 2017 – 01:02:11, an impressive record and you are getting quicker. So, how did you feel going into the marathon?
MM = I didn’t feel bounding coming into the Marathon but felt strong and confident of a good performance having run the Combe Crawler in the previous week which is a fairly short race over a punchy, fun, hilly course requiring some quick ascending and descending.
RF = The week of the marathon you recorded a week of 62.4 miles and the week after you recorded a week of 85.1 miles. Most people would take it easy the week after a marathon and the Endurancelife marathon is far from flat, so how did you feel the week after?
MM = Because I race quite frequently (generally every 2-3 weeks) as long as I feel okay and relatively unbroken I prefer to crack on with a good training week. I think that if approached with caution there are some fitness gains in doing this and between tapering and recovering I wouldn’t otherwise have much time to train!
RF = What event have you got next?
MM = I have several club races lined up in the next few months, including the Grizzly at Seaton in March and back to the Taunton Marathon at the beginning of April, inevitably with the beginning of a New Year looming my thoughts turn towards the London marathon where I shall be returning for my second year in the club championships category,
RF = Have you a goal for the race?
MM = Hopefully this year to sneak under the 2:50 mark (currently on a PB of 2:50:55) so I will carry on racing different distances but I will be keeping London in mind.
RF = What does a training week look like?
MM = A training week nearly always contains one or two long runs across Exmoor, some hill work, sprints and a pacey run with my teammates from the fantastic Ilfracombe Running Club. I spend some time on the spin bike (not just reading the paper on it) I also do a mixture of core work, free weights and plyometrics for 50 minutes a day apart from a few days leading up to a race. As time has gone on I tend to have a rolling rest day every 9 days.
RF = Do you train mentally as well as physically?
MM = Mentally I would say that I’m pretty tough, I try to avoid a ‘poor me’ sentiment when things aren’t going according to plan and like to play a mind game on the way home from a long run…. I’ll add in a couple of extra miles at the last minute or change my intended route to return home along a hillier way…. Properly mean on myself sometimes!
RF = Are you injury free?
MM = I am generally injury free, I think weights, strength exercises and cross training have helped massively with this, also the majority of my training miles are at a steady and safe pace. Two years ago I suffered with Plantar Fasciitis, I struggled with it for 6 weeks before making an appointment at Taunton Foot and Gait clinic, with the help of some bespoke orthotics I was running again the very next day and haven’t looked back since, I have run in those orthotics since.
RF = How often do you change your trainers?
MM = My road running trainer is a Brooks Ghost 10 which I try to change every 500 miles but at this time of year tend to try to stretch some extra mileage out of, my off-road trainer of choice is a Salomon vario, most trail races have a mixture of terrain and these seem to suit that well.
RF = Do you use running nutrition, gels, blocs, chews, drinks, if so what?
MM = I use gels fairly sparingly in races of 13 miles or more and my preference is salted caramel Gu. I also like to use real food so in a 20mile or more race I will carry a flapjack or energy bar, I don’t train with gels but take a flapjack or some sweets for a long run.
RF = Why do you run?
MM = I have always run from childhood and represented Devon while at school in athletics and cross country. I then stopped racing but carried on running into adulthood but didn’t start racing again until 4 years ago after having children and with baby weight to lose, I started to put some more time into the running.
RF = Best running race experience?
MM = Winning the Red Bull Steeplechase back in June would be my best experience. I had come 2nd in 2016 and I was determined to go one better this year… I have never been so focused in a race before, the whole day went like clockwork.
RF = What do you think of when you are running?
MM = When running I think of anything and everything, it is the ultimate problem-solving time. In a race I am mainly thinking of fractions… timing, pacing, having a lovely time and reminding myself to keep running!
RF = Do you have a favourite pre and post race meal?
MM = I like to have a pasta based meal the lunchtime before a race rather than going to bed before a race feeling full and stuffy and generally like a couple of slices of pizza the night before. Straight after a race I like a cheese roll…. Sliced cheddar with mayonnaise in a white bap, preferably a bit sweaty after a morning in the car!!
RF = How do you stay motivated?
MM = I live on beautiful Exmoor and going for a run is never too much of a chore. I vary my runs and rarely run the same route twice in a week and because I have been fortunate enough to do well in races it makes me hungrier for more success… There is always room for improvement.
RF = Favourite race distance?
MM = My favourite race distance is a marathon. I think it is the perfect test of speed and stamina either on the road or trail. I enjoy racing all distances though and after winning the Mudcrew black R.A.T. 32 mile race in August I will definitely be looking forward to adding some more ultras to my race calendar.
RF = Any race rituals?
MM = I don’t have any race rituals but if I feel under pressure before a race I tend to annoy everyone with needless fretting and some pacing on the start line!
RF = If you were to give your three top tips for running what would they be?
- You’ll always feel better after a run, it is the perfect cure for nearly all ailments.
- Don’t get too bogged down with the whole training thing…. Just go for a run and enjoy it, it’s meant to be fun
- Join a running club or keep in touch with some like-minded people, I am lucky enough to be part of a brilliant running club where there is a fantastic camaraderie and positive attitude.
Mary at the NDRR Hartland Heartbreaker 2017, this is an 18 mile tough race that she has have won for the last 3 years. Photo taken by Michael Newcombe.
As of 16/12/17 Mary has recorded on Strava:
427h 36m in laced up running time
368,442 ft in elevation
And all over only 299 runs!!
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