It’s been a whole week since my marathon and I’ve enjoyed taking a break from it all.
After training for my first marathon last May I remember saying that I wanted to keep the mileage and long runs going after I had completed it. Of course that didn’t happen and it was a good few months before the long runs were back to where they had been almost a year ago.
This time however I have no intention of keeping the long runs “long” as this time around it has exhausted me. I have spent the last 3 months planning my weekends around my runs instead of my runs around my weekends.
I think also some part of me feels like I’ve accomplished all that I wanted to with this marathon. Milton Keynes marathon did not quite go to plan and I felt like I had unfinished business. This time I had so much to prove to myself. That’s not to say I won’t run anymore marathons… far from it. In fact this one has fired something up in my belly to run lots more.
Leading up to race day I had been feeling quite poorly. I’d lost my voice and been suffering from a cold and sore throat. It’s never the best thing to happen when your trying to get yourself mentally prepared after you have done everything you can to physically prepare yourself for the day.
However I wasn’t going to let it effect me. I had my goal and I would be damned if I was going to let it stop me trying.
I was feeling so anxious on the Friday before but thanks to my CBT I knew the best way to combat this was to tell those closest to me how I was feeling. I confided in a friend and Chris and by Friday evening I was feeling so much better about it all.
I wrote down all the practical things playing on my mind like the postcodes for the start and the checkpoints that my family would be able to see me at.
The information from the race organisers was fantastic. It’s a really low key small marathon and in my eyes perfect for someone like me that finds big events overwhelming.
For me the race isn’t what makes me anxious it’s everything else leading up to it. Once that timer starts ticking and I’m running my mental game is on.
Number collected and several toilet breaks later we were off to the start following the race briefing. It was a short walk away and a little surreal as it was just a small village park with a chip timing mat. No pushing to the front and only a small number of us doing the full marathon made it all the more comforting. I started near the front, headphones in and we were off.
The best half
The first half of the race I felt really strong. I always knew this would be the case so my plan was to run a comfortably fast first half so that I had room to play with for the second half where I knew things would start to get tough.
I past checkpoint one and let Chris know so that he could time seeing me at the next checkpoint.
By checkpoint 2 I was really desperate to see them. As there were not many runners for the marathon there was a lot of time where I felt like I was just on a training run alone on the trails which suited me as it took away that pressure.
This was a great viewing point for spectators as we past through an old railway station they could wave and cheer us all on as we continued along the old railway line (which is now all trail paths not a track in sight).
My first half was a PB in itself as I passed through in just over 1:55.
The second half became a battle of will. The legs were tired and the energy levels were going with them.
I was using tailwind as my hydration and main source of fuel but I also had a snack bar. By mile 17 I decided to walk while I ate this rather than try and negotiate running and eating. It wasn’t part of my original plan but I just needed the break.
The half marathon runners and walkers started to appear and it was a surreal feeling passing some of them by. They had started at a later time than us but suddenly a lonely race had started to feel a little less lonely.
It was the first of our warm days since all the cold and I felt overdressed and hot.
I began to walk a few seconds each time a new mile ticked over. Once I reached 20miles I was able to work out wether my goal would still be achievable and it was but it would be tight.
The last 10k would be where the real fight for the finish started.
The end is in sight
I knew I didn’t have a lot of time to play with but my walk run plan went from every mile to every half mile in the last 6 miles. Only briefly to have a drink and compose myself and then I was off again.
This method worked well until the last 3 miles as I said to myself and anyone else listening it’s just a park run left. We can do this….
Have you any idea how long a parkrun is after 20miles. It may as well have been another 20 as it was just as comparable. I was just about hanging on to the half mile break of a walk and it became a bit erratic and I was running quicker when I could to compensate the more regular walk breaks.
A couple of miles from the end I saw a running friend from a different run club and the excitement and power hug was enough to give me the boost I needed to not totally give up on my target.
Up until this point I’d not felt any blisters or rubbing but almost like an instant pressure there it was right between my toes but I got off very lightly as this was the only one to help my last mile and a bit that little bit harder.
The final 0.2 plus a bit
The problem with planning your times so closely to the second around a distance of 26.2 miles is most races are not 26.2 miles. And harder still is the mental blow when you think your almost finished but someone keeps moving the finishing post.
It’s a bit like a bad dream.
The last 0.37 miles was the hardest of the race. A steep slope to get off the Marriotts way trail and into the town. It was a strange finish. It just kept going while everyone was going about there normal day with family and friends of the runners lining the final stretch across the roads and up some steps into the town hall.
I collected my medal and tshirt and browsed the post run treats but I felt too sick to eat anything on offer. I was craving a banana and a drink.
Post marathon high
There was no grand finish with tannoys announcing your name or finishing funnels with timers but I didn’t care about any of that. I was on cloud 9. I had just completed a marathon in a time close to my target and I hadn’t even taken the time to look at how close as I didn’t care. I had given it my all and that was good enough for me.
Garmin connect and strava decided this would be the day they would crash so it was a good few hours before I could upload my data to look at it and analyse it.
This gave me time to recover and eat and hobble my way around a camping shop as my stretch and cool down.
Strava data has revealed I actually ran a marathon distance in 4:00:30 but my chip time from the event is 4:02:00 and that’s what I’ll be sticking with.
Results came in and I was positioned 22 overall (99 marathon finishers), 6th female and 1st female in my age category. Let’s just let it slide that there was less than a 100 runners and only a handful in my age category…. If you want to rank high take part it’s anyone’s game!
Honest review of the Marriotts way experience
This is a low key race with very few Marshall’s along the route. They have them at road crossings (which there were very few), checkpoints and any turnings taking you away from the track.
The route was clearly marked with arrows sprayed onto the ground and each checkpoint had a variety of snacks. Not the kind you’d expect to see and I bypassed them all. They asked you to take a cup to be refilled so I had taken all my own fluid which helped with time as I had no need to stop. The checkpoints were every 6-7 miles.
There were times where you’d be running alone or in small packs of similar paced runners and of course it was open to the public so expect bikes and other runners but everyone was respectful of each other.
The terrain was compacted muddy trail paths but suitable for road shoes and along a old railway line but the only evidence of this were the original mile markers and the old railway stations that still remain. It was flat with very few inclines which were mainly over bridges and the occasional slope.
The start and finish were pretty unspectacular but in all honestly perfect if you find large races overwhelming or you have run marathons before and just want a lovely low key and cheap marathon to run.
As it is a linear route they provide transport to the start from the finish if needed for a small cost.
The post marathon goodies were a tshirt and medal as mentioned and they provided homebaked snacks and drinks of squash or water in a proper mug. No plastic in sight.
It was a very well organised event and I know I’ll be back again next year.
To run a sub 4hr marathon as I feel confident I can if I learn from this marathon but I’m in no rush. Maybe a autumn marathon but not for a PB as I’d prefer to do a like for like race and run the Marriotts way again.
I have my training plan written for Race to the stones. Although I’m yet to officially enter it as the shear anxiety of injuries, cost and logistics of it all are too much at the moment but I know I can still train for it as my next big goal.