Thank you! Thank you! This is all such a great surprise! I never expected to… *deep breath* I would like to thank my Mum & Dad for getting me to the venue, for cheering me on and shouting me across the finish line; Adam for always being there and for being a wealth of knowledge on how to get me through this as well as for getting me out on those long runs over the past 18 weeks; my spare pair of running capris for being in the bag when I needed you after my ‘long run’ leggings split on me 30mins before the race start; Kent Roadrunner for providing the venue, the supportive marshalls, the massive medal… And to you Hal Higdon, for providing a training plan for a novice runner, that got her through 27(!) miles on a Saturday morning after only really having completed ~78% of the scheduled runs.
I ran my first marathon on Saturday. An ultra really, with it being basically 27 miles by the end of it (not just for me – many other Strava runners had ~27 miles on their watches). But the ‘big one’ is done. (Strava activities: part 1, part 2)
I think I need to write a bucket list just to cross this off of it.
It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t the worse thing I have ever done.
The start was a little wet, but the mood was good, and I had stopped crying randomly, luckily distracted by what other people were wearing and where I could store my hoodie for the duration of the race as I now didn’t want to run with it to our bag place. But we started off on our 20.5 laps of the track and it was on! 26.2 miles – come on down!
Fortunately (I guess), there is nothing much to report on the run itself: I started to feel rough and lost the faith a bit around 10/11 miles; even Adam was worried about me when he lapped me for the second time and asked how I was and it was not a good response. But I ploughed on. I was not going fast: I was hoping to stick to 12 min/miles and did for the first 10, but then I started to drop a little to over 12s.
I don’t really remember the middle of the race, apart from noting that I my half time might have been a PB (it was & a 10 mile too!). I spent most of the time doing the maths in my head of whether I was behind or ahead of my pace, counting the number of bands (laps) I had left to go, wondering what my end time could be (i.e. whether I could do this in the 6-hour time limit) and then looking out for Adam so we could shout at each other, doing some thumbs-up and generally encourage each other with arm gestures, before he caught me up and lapped me again.
My Mum had appeared at the end of my first lap – which was a lovely surprise (she had planned to see the start but got blocked in and missed it), as I didn’t know she was coming for the race itself, only to see me finish in many hours time, so it was nice to see her (and didn’t make me cry a bit at all…) So I got to see her each lap, clapping me on 🙂
Adam has been injured since Christmas and so hasn’t put in the training he would have liked, and so he planned to finish this marathon with his body intact only. A sub-4hr would have also been nice. And he bloody did it! Very luckily, he was only a little behind me on his last lap, so I slowed on the hill to see him power up it (to my loud shouting) and run through the finish line in an amazing 3:59:19 – sub-4hr! I have seen him finish his previous two (official) marathons, and was so glad I got to see this one too. I was so proud of him for getting that time (and it didn’t make me cry a bit at all…).
So then I was on my own. No one to look out for on the course, but I had my Mum at the end of each and now Adam in a slightly different place ready to hand me drinks/food/encouragement/change of hat etc., which was great.
Just after 4 hours my watch started to give up the ghost, so I shouted at Adam to get the spare watch for me (it had nearly given up on me during my 20-miler so we were prepared) and I started the second at 21 miles in case the first did give up. It did, somewhere around 22 miles, but I had the other logging the distance, if not the correct time.
I’m not sure when it was, maybe somewhere around 19/20 miles, when the bands were less heavy on my wrist, and the field had thinned out a bit due to all the finishers, that I worked out I would be able to finish within the 6-hours. I was going to get that medal that people were shouting from the sidelines was ‘definitely worth it’. That put a spring in my head, if not in my step. (I had worked out I could walk the rest, albeit quickly, and still do alright.)
So I just settled in to it, reasonably happy. When I then had covered a bit more, and realised I could be well within 6 hours, I perked up a little more. I had noticed that my breathing was still good, and had been for the whole thing (maybe not around the 10/11 mile mark as above), so the only thing that would stop me from doing this would be my brain or the pain in my feet (large blisters were definitely forming down there). But both of these didn’t really rear their ugly head and I knew I had this.
My last lap was a happy tootle – an opportunity to thank all of the random strangers who had been calling out my name on every lap, the marshalls who encouraged you to run to the next corner or handed you cups of water, and even to have a chat to a couple of guys who had finished hours before, but who ran half the last lap with me (yes – I could even hold a conversation while running my last half mile!).
I was happy. Even though I knew I had run my distance already – the 26.2 mile mark was half way around the last lap: I had heard others saying it all came up long, even Adam said it but wouldn’t confirm his total distance when I kept asking as it was 27 miles at the end of those 20.5 laps.
I ran (still slowly) up that last hill, into the left hand lane for the finish and even managed to pick up the pace a little to come in at 5:43:30. I was a very happy bunny.
Adam and my parents were shouting me on, and as I lifted a shaking leg to the lady cutting off the timing chips, they followed around to watch me get my MASSIVE medal and get a professional photo taken (I even managed to get a picture of all of us 🙂 )
Hugs were all round, parents were saying they were proud of me (tears in their eyes), me thanking everyone for everything (it didn’t make me cry a bit at all…), and then a bit of a chat, a bit of a walk to pack up our stuff and then home.
I think I may have been expecting more elation from myself. I was in a good state, a happy mood, but no over-the-top euphoria. Maybe the knowing I was going to finish part way through took that away from me (rather than it being a surprise), or maybe I was more tired than I thought I was. Oh, but there was one jump-in-the-air ‘YEY!’ moment. Maybe that was it.
And now it is two days later and I am still feeling fine. My legs are sore, especially going down stairs, but we managed a 1-mile jog this morning and a wander around the supermarket, so it’s not that bad.
I heard conversations on the way around the track of ‘I ran my first and it was ‘never again’, but then I ran my second and I said ‘never again’…’ etc. I haven’t thought that. I think I enjoyed it. I wasn’t sure I had trained enough, I wasn’t sure I had looking after myself enough but I went into it hoping it would work out. It did. I felt good during it (bar that 10/11 mile mark) and I think I could do it again.
I mean, I am not signing up to another immediately, but I don’t think I want to rule it out. I have done it once, and I can maybe do it again: hopefully better with the experience and knowledge gained already behind me.
So watch this space…
Training Plan Status:
Weeks completed: 18/18
Runs completed: 53 (pre-Half: 25/32)
Miles run: 357.7
Longest run: 26.9 miles (28/05)
TRAINING & RACE COMPLETE!
(Just Harvel5 to get through next Saturday and then feet up!)