Pre-Marathon build up
The build up to a marathon is crazy. This is marathon number 2 for me and, as I sit here on the train on my way to Edinburgh, I am feeling quite relaxed. Before I got on the train I was a mixture of nerves & excitement all morning. Checking my list several times to make sure that I had packed everything I need. I had some bus issues so I missed my train so I was a bit stressed out but only for a minute as the lovely man at the ticket desk gave me a new ticket for the next train just half an hour later so I had time to pee & get some lunch for the 4 hour train journey. I’m only arriving 10 minutes later than I would have if I made the 1st train so it all worked out.
I have been checking the weather and I am now resigned to the fact that I am going to get wet. Heavy rain is predicted which is a bit of a worry, I am trying to remind myself of a run I did in Anglesey on the #ukrunchat weekend. We did a 6 mile run in some heavy rain & I loved it! I have packed for whatever is thrown at us so I have sun cream and a rain jacket. I’m leaving it to Sunday morning to decide whether to wear my rain jacket or vest & sleeves. And I got a tartan kilt/tutu after some people on Twitter deciding that’s what I should do- I’m not sure how that’ll cope it the rain…I’m not sure how I’ll cope in the rain either. As long as I can manage to not get too cold I’ll be happy.
I’ve been overwhelmed by all the good luck messages already rolling in from everyone on #ukrunchat. Such a fabulous group of people. I will definitely be thinking of everyone virtually cheering me on as I run on Sunday. All that encouragement makes you feel wonderful.
I’m excited to be seeing a friend of mine that lives in Edinburgh- it will be weird us not drinking for the 1st couple of days but there will be plenty of time for that after the run. I’m looking forward to meeting lots of other ukrunchatters who are running or cheering us on this weekend.
The big day
I woke up & the 1st thing I did was take a look outside- it was cloudy but not raining. This was a good start. I was feeling pretty hyper so I got up & had some weetabix & cup of green tea. I got dressed & had my bag ready, before I knew it it was time to head out to get the bus. I’d gone from hyper to nervous and said goodbye to my friend, Louise, knowing the next time I saw her would be while I was running. Louise & her parents had told me the 2 points I’d see them at, they’d be at mile 15 & then mile 19/20 on the way back (in the same spot). I’d recommend you all do this if you have people coming to cheer you on. It’s great to know where they’ll be so you don’t miss them.
I got the bus to head into town and it was full of other runners. I was feeling a bit emotional so the lady next to me was lucky I held it together and didn’t cry on her shoulder.
I knew where I planned to get off the bus but I figured I’d just follow everyone else on the bus. They got off at the stop I’d planned to & then I followed them to the bag trucks as I hadn’t really paid attention to where I needed to go as I knew it would be fairly obvious with 1000’s of runners heading in the same direction. I arrived there at about 9:10am so I made sure I had everything I needed & put my bag in the bag truck. This was really well organised & there were no queues to wait to put it in. I then headed to the toilets, the queue was tiny as there were quite a lot there. I had a bit of time to kill after that as I didn’t want to be in the pens too early so I stood around stretching & listening to the music & commentary. I used my 3g for about a minute to have a quick last check of twitter to see all the amazing good luck messages. It really is encouraging & motivating to know so many people want you to do well. I tuned my 3g back off & my phone said it’s battery was at 1%! I couldn’t believe it- I’d barley used it & it had been fully charged. I was gutted. I was looking forward to listening to music during the quiet sections as I knew the crowds wouldn’t be as big as they are in London. I turned my phone off & back on & it went back to 90% battery- Thank God!!! (I really must take it into the magic mac doctors & get them to sort it out as it’s clearly having issues).
I went to the toilet again and then headed down to the pens. Even getting into the pens was easy- I don’t like to be in them early so I normally end up jumping a fence to get in where I’m supposed to be. But here there was a lovely gap in the fence for people to get in & out.
I took my jumper off & left it on the fence for them to collect for charity (it’s a good idea to have a jumper & tracksuit bottoms on standby that you can wear the morning of a cold race & ditch at the start). I had a bin bag to wear too but it wasn’t raining, despite the heavy rain that had been predicted, so I didn’t need it (have a bin bag at races with you too- if you don’t wear it you can use it to sit on if you have time to kill before the race).
It was a great way to start a run- good bag drop, toilets & pens- all very important to keep you at ease before the marathon that lays ahead of you.
The big 26.2
There was a great atmosphere in the starting pens- everyone was chatting away to each other and then there was a big announcement and we all did a big countdown to start the race. It felt pretty surreal that it was finally here. Of course, when we finished the countdown with a big ‘GO’ & cheer we didn’t go anywhere as we were a few pens back but before long we were on our way.
I settled into a pretty good pace & really enjoyed the 1st 17 miles. I was looking forward to getting to mile 15 & seeing my friend & her parents. The crowd were great and the rain held off. I did the 1st half of the race in 2 hours- I was so happy with this time & I felt so strong & happy that I thought ‘if I keep this up I could do a 4-4:15”….I’d predicted a 4:15-4:45 finish before the run. At the half way point we saw the 1st runners passing by in the other direction- the lead guy was so far ahead of the others- all of the runners gave the 1st few we saw a massive cheer as they ran past. It was amazing & inspiring to see, knowing that they’d be finishing about 2 hours ahead of us!
I saw my friend & her parents, it was a great boost to see them cheering me on- plus I knew it was only another 5 miles before I was back & got to see them again. Up until this point the weather hadn’t been a problem at all- I was so grateful the rain held off & the wind wasn’t a problem…that was until the turning point at mile 17. We turned to head back towards Edinburgh and was immediately met with the wind in our faces. I don’t think any of realised how much the wind was behind us until it hit us in the face. We got to turn off for a mile or so to run around the grounds of the beautiful Gosforth House. I had been thinking about stopping for a quick pee & there were a few there so I thought it was a good time to stop as I knew if I stopped later it would be much harder to get going again. Actually it was pretty hard to get going again anyway. And once we were out of the grounds we were faced with the wind again. I found it really tough. I knew how far we had left & the idea of running that long with that wind was hard on the brain. I focused on getting to mile 20 to see my friend again. I ran up for a big hug and then continued on my way. 6.2 miles felt like a really long way ahead of me. My mind was playing all sorts of tricks on me, my toe hurt for a bit, I felt like I had stitch (which I never get) so I walked for a minute. Karen, from ukrunchat, ran by & came to say hello so I ran to chat with her, it was good motivation to get going again.
At mile 23 I thought I’d have a caffeine gel to get me through the last few miles. I had been happy on just water but I felt I needed a bit of a boost. I walked again while I had the gel and was finding it hard to get going again but a fellow runner told me to get moving as we didn’t have far to go so I did as I was told, started running & got back into the swing of things. I was ready to run to that finish line & let the wind beat me up on the way.
Towards the finish the crowds got bigger and were a great boost shouting my name- I was loving it. I hadn’t seen the 26 mile marker so I figured we still had a bit to go but then suddenly we were turning the corner towards the finish- I ran as fast as I could with my arms in the air enjoying the crowds. My friend Louise managed to cheer louder than everyone else so I got to see her just before I got over the finish line. I finished the marathon in 4:30- I was so happy!!
I collected my medal and goody bag and headed to the meeting point to meet Louise, I had a good stretch, collected by bag and then we headed to the shuttle bus. At the bag collection my bag magically appeared in front of me as someone handed it over- I hadn’t even realised they had seen my number & had gone to find it. There was a queue of shuttle buses waiting for us so we didn’t have to wait to get on one either. The organisation of this marathon is fabulous!!
The winner of the marathon, Kenyan Peter Wanjiru, finished in an amazing time of 2:19. Even he was slowed down by the wind & had to stop, which made me feel a bit better about the fact I found it hard. After the race he told the event organisers “The race was good to halfway, but after that, there was a lot of wind. After 30k I decided to move. The last mile was very difficult, the wind was blocking me. I even had to stop.”
Louise & I headed to the pub for some food & a bottle of Prosecco. Then back to her parents, where I took another glass of bubbles into an Epsom salt bath- an amazing Jacuzzi bath that every marathoner needs in their life!
Then we had dinner and more bubbles and some dessert too.
On Monday we went to Edinburgh Castle (wearing my medal). There are quite a lot of stairs and I had to go down them a bit slowly but it was a lovely day & I knew that keeping the legs moving was doing me good. We had a big pub lunch and then headed home to take the dog for a walk. I was pretty tired by the end of the day. My thigh muscles were still a bit sore on Tuesday & I wasn’t very comfortable being still for so long on the train back to London. By Wednesday I was pretty much back to normal & went for a short run on Thursday.
I am happy with my time and I do feel like I could definitely do better. My next marathon is Berlin in September, and then a month later Bristol-Bath. I will be hoping for around 4:15 in Berlin and Bristol-Bath I just aim to finish as there are a couple of evil hills on that route- I do think they should have made it Bath-Bristol so we run down the hills.
I quite like this feeling that I think I can do better. I’m confident that one day I’ll get a sub-4 marathon- not right away but I will get there. We can all do anything if we just put our minds to it xx.