“I’m not a marathon runner”. “I’m not sure I could do the training”. “26.2miles is a bloody long way”. “I prefer the half marathon distance” These were all things I said 12 months ago. I think looking back, I was scared of failure, scared that if I did stand on a marathon start line that I might not make it to the end. Towards the end of 2018, my mindset changed and I entered the London Marathon but unfortunately I didn’t get in so I booked Manchester. It then transpired that I managed to secure a London Marathon place via a charity spot but that’s a story for another day.
16 weeks had flown by. I had not had the best preparation but as I walked to the start area, I knew two things. 1- I was going to become a marathon runner and 2- It was a guaranteed personal best. Over the two week taper period, I had gone through the race strategy hundreds of times, the plan was to run the first 3 miles outside of the my goal marathon pace – 810/815 – and then 3-22 at around 755-8 and then rely on what ever I had left for the final 4miles. It was time to execute this, heading into the unknown can be a scary thing; what if I got to 21miles and stopped or 24 and my legs will not turn over? I had many questions going round in my head, I tried to clear them from my mind and focus on each 3 mile block.
Luckily for me, I had a good friend of mine running his first marathon stood next to me in the starting area. I had ran with Dan a few times over the last 6 months or so and it was great to see a familiar face.
It was time, time to be brave.
It was time to prove to myself that I can do anything when I put my mind to it.
It was time to prove to everyone who had ever doubted me, I can do this.
The first half was routine. I had a run lots of half marathons and I felt strong at the turn. I had seem my Mum and Dad twice which was great and Dan and I had executed the first 13 miles almost to plan. We got through half way in 1.45.
Many people say a marathon is a race of two halves, the first 20 and the last 6. We got to 20 miles and the legs were beginning to feel tired but the fuelling strategy of one SIS gel every 4 miles seemed to be working. I had managed to take on enough water and ran most of the marathon with a bottle in my hand, taking a little on but often.
Crossing through 20 miles in 2:40, I knew I had less than an hour to go, it was now time to be brave, to challenge myself and see what this body can do.
Mile 23 was the first point I had ever considered about stopping. The legs were so heavy it was awful. I tried to 10 second sprints to try and jump start the legs but they were not having any of it! My three slowest miles were 24, 25 and 26 but without the crowds at mile 25 and 26, I am not sure I would of ran it all.
The home straight
“I am about to become a marathon runner”. That is all I could hear in my head. The crowds were amazing, I could feel the emotion kicking in. I gave everything I had on the home straight, I had wanted to finish strong. I crossed the line.
It was over. I sank to the ground and tried to gather my thoughts, a tear or two slipped out. I was a marathon runner. 3:33 was on my watch but that was not the important thing, I had set out to run a marathon and I had done it. The marathon is not 26.2miles, its just the last 26.2 miles of the journey. I trained through the winter, with two injuries missing half of the main running sessions and only finished 3minutes outside of my goal!
The best thing about this weekend other than the marathon was all the people I had the chance to catch up with! It was a great experience from start to finish.
The scary thing is on the 28/04, I am taking on the London Marathon. It will be different, I am not to fussed about my time, I am going there to enjoy it. It maybe the only chance I get to run such an iconic marathon.