I have never run a marathon, but I have heard that when training for one, you should do one big warm-up run a couple of weeks before the day to prepare your body and mind for the challenge ahead. With my 10 Round Challenge only 3 weeks away, I thought I would do exactly that.
I believe most runners do around 18 to 22 miles as a warm-up, so I set my sights on 8 rounds on this past holiday Monday.
I set my alarm for 3.30am and went to bed to get some rest before the big day. Unfortunately for me, Tiger decided to light up the last few holes at Memorial and kept me up later than anticipated watching his impressive come-from-behind win. So with 4 hours sleep banked, I awoke and got ready.
4.11am. Usually I would be leading the Masters on the back-nine at Augusta in my bed, but today I was staring down the first of 144 holes at Mortonhall Golf Club. A slightly thin 3-wood found the left-side of the fairway and I was off.
Round 1. Eager, anxious, strangely excited, I skipped round in 76 minutes with a score of 76. I had hit the ball pretty well, and my time-saving tactics of putting with my bag on, not teeing up drives and jogging down hills were working. As the clubhouse wasn't open for another 3 hours, I had hid my supplies bag behind the building so I stocked my bag with water and supplies and headed back to the 1st tee.
Round 2. In a mirror to the first round and aided by the audiobook playing on iPhone, I got round in 78 minutes, shooting another 76. 14 pars and 4 bogeys were highlighted by a 20ft eagle putt on the par-5 12th hole. Unfortunately, to save time, I didn't remove the flag, costing me a two-shot penalty and a rather disappointing par. Another behind-the-clubhouse turnaround and I was off for hole 37.
Round 3. First sign of life as I noticed some of the greenkeepers arriving for their early-morning shift. The round started with my first birdie of the day and whilst '59-watch' didn't last, I did get it round in 75 with a time of 88 minutes due to a couple of waits for greenstaff later in the round.
Round 4. As the Monday morning members arrived to try and get the first tee time of the day, I joined in and tried to get through the two or three groups already on the course. A loose tee-shot on the first found the trees and brought the first provisional ball of the day. A glance into the trees returned no sign of a ball and my yellow Titleist NXT Tour S was the first casulty of the day. The round finished with a 77 and totaled 101 minutes. A shower, some food and a quick rest needed before round 5.
Round 5. Feeling refreshed with a change of clothes, I joined a busy period of tee times as people came out to enjoy a sunny holiday Monday. I played through 8 groups, made consecutive birdies on 15 and 16 and finished with a 75 in a rather labored 149 minutes. Course was getting busy and my legs were starting to offer some negative feedback.
Round 6. Club was buzzing now with ties, visitors and members all making the most of the Queen's Jubilee weekend. Whilst the round took 163 minutes, I found my 'mojo'. My first eagle of the day on the par-5 4th was matched with a second eagle on the par-5 8th and a third on the par-5 12th. I tapped in a 5 foot birdie putt on the par-5 15th to play the par-5s in seven under on route to a 65. My lowest score at my home club, with 6 clubs on the back of 5 rounds earlier in the day. It's a silly game really.
Round 7. About 6.30pm, I finished off my last of 4 homemade rolls and set off again. Through 3 groups by the 10th hole, I was hoping for a decent time, but that wasn't the case. I arrived on the tee at 12 to find four middle aged men playing a foursomes tie. For 7 holes, they went out of the way to ignore me. Frustratingly, I waited on every shot and ended up with a 72 in 162 minutes. Highlighted by a lip-out for a hole-in-one on the short 17th, needless to say there would have been four middle aged men that would not have been offered a free drink in the clubhouse had that ball dropped!
Round 8. After two slow rounds, it was 9pm and the light was dimming. I decided to try and jog the round to ensure I got round. Using all the time-saving tactics I used early on, I limped round for an 80, but did get through the 18 holes in 74 minutes. 2 lost balls and a loss of enthusiasm hurt my score, but wow, was I happy to be done.
I really didn’t feel terrible, just mentally and physically fatigued. My right heel had started to hurt during the middle of the day, so I changed from my golf shoes into my trainers for the last couple of rounds. Chaffage had been the main obstacle throughout the day. The heat and constant walking had taken it’s toll and gave me a good indication of how it will be on June 27th. Shopping list priority: Baby Powder.
In total, I had played 144 holes, needing 598 shots, scoring 98 pars, 24 bogeys, 12 birdies, 7 double bogeys and 3 eagles, whilst loosing 4 balls on the day. I walked a total of 45.4 miles, in 18 hours 8 minutes, climbing 4,274 feet and burning in the region of 8,000 calories.
Tough leaving the course knowing I would be back in 3 weeks to do it all again, but the day proved a success and with what I learnt added to the motivation of raising money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, I am growing in confidence for the 10-Round Challenge on June 27th.