This was my first marathon and it didn't disappoint. Awesome!!! Huge
fields, great organisation, scenery, huge crowds, wonderful atmosphere;
I felt like an Olympian. My wife, who has had to put up with the long
runs, bad moods and injuries, was crying with emotion when she first saw
me at Cutty Sark.
I've been running for 4 years and generally use the Bath Half in March
as a measure as to how I'm improving. This year I did 1:23:54, which was
a PB by nearly 4 minutes, so I was encouraged by that and it got me
thinking that maybe a sub-3 was possible.
I was a regular reader and occasional contributor to the FLM sub-3:15
forum and was a bit intimidated by some of the mileages people were
doing. Some were of the order of 50-80pw. I found I couldn't get close
to that. The Sunday run would rob me of all energy till Wednesday and if
I did too many miles my shins would give me grief. In the end I found a training plan of 20-40 miles that focussed on quality not quantity, coupled with cross-training and this kept my niggling injuries at bay.
Saturday's travel and registration didn't go quite as planned. It ended
up being a very long day of travel, queues and not eating when I wanted
to. Next year I'll do the expo on the Friday.
Sunday went like a dream. I was at the front of pen 2 and crossed the
line in 7 seconds and was off, ticking off the first mile in 6:40. The
early miles were faster than scheduled as it was downhill and I went
through halfway in 1:26-something, about a minute ahead of plan. The
second half went well and I cruised through mile 20 5 minutes ahead of my
Gloucester 20 time, all was looking good.
As I approached the 23-mile
point, my head was saying 'nearly there' and my legs seemed to take that as
a signal to start to let me know that this is hurting.
At 24, my quads
were really hurting and relaxing and acknowledging the crowd went
out the window. It was now gritted teeth and race face - I couldn't
blow it now. I was aware that for the last two miles the crowds were
huge and everyone was shouting my name, but I was in the zone and just
had to finish. I was relieved more than anything to cross the line,
having managed to stick with the plan and get my dream target of sub-three.
As soon as the chip came off I couldn't walk; my legs had totally
seized! I staggered up to the repatriation area only to realise there
was no finishers T-shirt in my bag! There was no way I was doing that
without the T-shirt, so in great pain I hobbled back to the finish to
Post-race runners trots is no fun when you have to queue with the crowds
for a portaloo, but a dose of Imodium gave me the confidence to not join
the back of the queue again and I had no further problems.
The neighbours who had been following my progress via texts from my
wife, had decorated the nearby roundabout and my house with posters and
balloons and there was champagne and jelly babies(!) waiting inside.
Brilliant! I had a real craving for chow mein so treated myself and got
through two of the trays myself.
The week after the marathon has been fantastic with all the congratulations from friends and colleagues, coupled with my own personal satisfaction that I did it!!
It took me until Thursday to be able to walk downstairs and my legs are
still sore. I can't believe some people were out running on Monday! I'm a
firm believer in rest to allow your muscles to come back stronger, so I
will start light cycling this weekend and see how I feel next week.
Both the family and I are riding on a high. The kids took my medal and foil blanket in to "show and tell" at school - I even got it back! We
have forgotten all the pain and inconvenience that went with the
training and are already planning next year and bringing some friends