I completed my first ever marathon yesterday and wanted to tell you about my experience. Firstly, I am tired, emotional and ache in places I didn't know existed but very happy! When I first decided to run 180 miles for Children's Adventure Farm Trust I thought it would be a good idea to do some "mini" events along the way. So just before Christmas I did a week of zumba. This was great fun and a big change from my social norm (I like running with people but mostly do this by myself). Just need a little more work on my coordination and zumba may just be a bit of great cross training for me.
I wanted to make sure that what I was doing stayed close to the front of your mind and mine. I decided that it would be easier to train if I set myself a challenge again before easter so I signed up to the Gloucester Marathon. I got my training plan from Nik Cook and did my best to stick to it. I have to say it gave me a lot of confidence and felt so much stronger. Then the week before the event I got my race number. Excitement turned to fear as I realised there was a cut off time of 5 hours on the race. All my training had been to my heart rate and time not speed. I really started to doubt myself and then I got a chest infection....! As an asthmatic this wasn't good. I went to the doctors and got myself sorted. The lovely nurse I saw (Debbie for all you local people) was brilliant. She calmed me down and reassured me I could do it and to go and run my race whatever happened.
So Saturday the nerves started kicking in again as we drove to Worcester to spend the night at my in laws. They were fab and Tim gave me the hugest plate of spaghetti bolognese for tea! And as all you generous people started pouring in with sponsorship and well wishes I began to relax and really think I could do it. I went to bed and slept.. well not great. Strange bed, strange noises and to be honest a lot of tension inside. I woke feeling ready though so after a bowl of porridge we were on our way to Gloucester.
Arriving was daunting. I saw lots of people wearing 100 marathon and various other club t shirts and thought "oh no I'm playing with the big boys what am I doing here?". Mentally I switched off I think. I listened to the safety talk and wondered about the places they were talking about (i've never been to Gloucester before). Then we all walked up to the start line and before I knew it we were off!
What can I say the first half was amazing. I was well on target for completing in 4 1/2 hours. Then I got to 16 miles... the pain was horrible. It was right at the top of my legs, the slightest incline felt like a mountain. My wonderful husband then jogged along with me for the next mile till I told him to go away as he was making me cry! Love does funny things to you, I needed him then and to see him at the end but not before.
For me Gloucester was great. The other runners were amazing. I loved running alongside the old guys - 40 years older than me and still taking it in their stride. Thank you for your tips, encouragement and (yes I did notice the pacing). For me the worst part was the laps. Three in total for which you got a band each time, these will always serve to remind me that when the going gets tough I CAN do another lap. The last lap was the hardest, mainly because I was near enough alone. I'd been lapped by everyone by now and it was just me and the marshals. Being followed by the sweeper vehicle is like being followed by the grim reaper, I can hear you and can't run away!
As for the pain, well it moved is all I can really say. At one point I couldn't run and then I couldn't walk. I just set my head to thinking I was going to finish. The weird thing was I didn't feel tired. My hydration and fuelling seemed to go really well. Sorry Nik, I think I should have done a bit more cycling as you told me too.
So what went wrong? Nothing as far as I'm concerned, I finished. Yes I was last but only 374 people completed out of 500 starters. Did I do it within 5 hours? Not in the slightest 5:56:40 and for this I very much appreciate the marshalls and the sweep vehicle that kept an eye on me and kept me going. Thank you for waiting for me and I felt great after (ok so walking is still an issue but that's a small price to pay). Would I do it again? Not today but maybe one day.
I am very proud to have received my medal and feel like the Coast to Coast run is achievable. Thank you for all your donations and keep them coming!