So the day I’d spent months training for had finally arrived. I’d spent the previous 2 weeks in a state of anxiety, secretly wishing that I’d twist my ankle or get the flu so I’d have an excuse not to run…However, lo and behold, the day arrived and I didn’t have so much as a niggle to stop me from running. By this point the nerves had worn off and I was excited and raring to go. I couldn’t believe that by the end of the day I would have (hopefully) completed my second marathon.
I ate a bowl of my faithful porridge, and went through the motions of race day morning… sun cream, vaseline, multiple trips to the loo (just to make sure) and then it was time to go to the start. We jumped in a taxi and headed to the start line, arriving in plenty of time. Luckily it wasn’t too cold or raining. I said goodbye to my fiance (and number one supporter) after one final loo stop and got in my allocated starting pen. A little bit of small talk with fellow runners later (one who told me the furthest he’d run in training was 5 miles!) and we were off! I couldn’t believe that this was it, all I had to do was just keep running.
I’d decided to try and stick to a 9min/mile from the start, so I set off at that pace (Luckily I have a Garmin GPS watch so it was easy to pace myself). Literally hundreds of people were overtaking me in the excitement of the first few miles, but I held back , knowing that I’d be thankful later on. At mile 1 saw my fiance for the first time. He was standing alone, singing a cheer that he’d made up in advance to spur me on. He must have felt like a complete idiot, but it made me laugh and spurred me on, so I suppose it was worth it!
The first 10K went past quite quickly, as we ran out of the city towards the coast. The support from locals was great in the villages we passed through but very sparse in places which sometimes made it a bit lonely. Luckily for me I had my own cheering squad; my fiance, his Mum and brother. They were great and managed to see me about 6 times en route, which was amazing and gave me a spring in my step every time I saw them cheering and waving.
I reached 13.1 miles in 1.58, so was pacing myself well. I was aiming for a 4 hour marathon, although I knew this was maybe a tad ambitious! I managed to hold this pace for another few miles, before I began to slow down. I found this really demoralising as I thought I’d be able to maintain the pace for at least 20 miles. Between 16-20 miles we ran an out and back loop along the coast. There was little support and you could see the runners on the way back which instead of motivating me, demoralised me further as I realised how far behind them I was (even though I obviously knew there would be thousands of faster runners than me!!) This was the point where I had to be strong mentally… I was having all sorts of negative thoughts; ”I can’t believe I was actually excited about doing this this morning”, ”I’m never running further than 10K ever again”, ”who cares what time I get?” etc etc. But I was prepared for this so tried to give myself VERY cheesy motivational speeches and started using my mantras. Before I knew it I passed my boyfriend at 20 miles (I don’t think I was quite as cheery this time and remember mumbling something about being absolutely knackered). However, I knew that I only had 10K to go, surely I could run 10K, anyone could do that and then it’d be over. I can’t say the last 10K were any easier, and I don’t think I believed it would ever end, but I kept passing the mile markers and getting nearer the finish. My boyfriend actually ran with me (I asked him to) for about a mile. We still laugh now about whether I actually found it helpful or wanted to kill him! I can’t say I was my most conversational self…
And then before I knew it the end was nigh, and the support was amazing! Just five minutes to go, surely I could keep going for 5 minutes. At first I was completely disorientated and walking in to everyone, but after a glug of water and a cereal bar I was walking a bit straighter and the euphoria kicked in. I had done it! I was absolutely over the moon and in disbelief that I had achieved my goal. Ok, so I hadn’t got under 4hours, but to be honest, I couldn’t care less. I had a PB and had just run a marathon! I was reunited with my cheering squad, and they had the pleasure of enduring my recollection of the race for the rest of the day! So, would I do it again? Absolutely, I’ve already signed up for Barcelona Marathon 2014, where perhaps I will break the elusive 4 hours.