Thanks to Jovial Gnome for his support and the photographs.
The clue was in the name. Water. Not just running around a scenic reservoir (if we’d seen it through the morning mist or rain) but copious amounts of water under foot and overhead.
- The good…
Teamwork… I ran with Louise (abradypus) again. Between us we kept to a steady 10 minute mile average pace to start with, where some faster splits on the downhills compensated for the slower ups. We subconsciously kept each other going through tough points working to pull back our pace and the miles passed. The route was very varied and scenic with plenty of changes in gradient and surface and twists and turns so never monotonous or boring even on the second lap of the peninsular where the wind on the side exposed to the lake froze our wet hands and feet. It was certainly challenging. Although mostly on hard trails and tarmac many of the paths were awash with water and running around the growing puddles on the grass meant slip sliding in the mud. Cattle grids meant tip toeing across slippery metal or going round and pulling open the gate with numb arms. There was some great good-humoured marshalling from the Cadets who manned the frequent water stations plus mile markers every 3 miles to remind us it was ‘gel time’ and as usual a great bunch of other runners around us.
- The bad…
The rain, the mud, the cold, the ankle deep puddles. We knew there was a sting in this race’s tail and were expecting a hill at 20 miles… as we relaxed past the 21 mile marker it struck and I’m afraid to say that I caved first and apologised that I was going to walk. I told Louise to carry on. She joined me in a power march as the hill turned a tight corner and rose up in front of us. We picked it up again encouraged by the passing of 23 miles and only a parkrun to go. It was the steep downhill just before mile 24 that killed my legs. I don’t know if they were frozen solid or cramped but the impact on the downhill was painful and I had to limp. I fell back from Louise and told her to carry on thinking she might make sub 4.30. A bit of a hobble/walk/limp later I pulled myself together had two blasts of Pink Floyd ‘Wish you were here’ on my emergency iPod and carried on for the last couple of miles walking the downs and jogging along the rest, even managing to pass a few people in the process, as my legs bucked up with the end in sight. It might have been the weather but the finish was a bit of a of a cold damp squib. No medal, handed a poor goody bag with only a cardboard certificate (to fill in yourself), generic Fat-feet running vest, oat bar and a couple of gels. No foil blankets or directions where to find our warm layers from the start. Not much for your entrance fee.
- My first marathon experience?
Positive. Once I defrosted and stopped shaking. I probably won’t be back for this one again but if anything a tough race has given me a brilliant sense of pride that I finished and in a good time. And I enjoyed it. We had a few laughs and I had a fair few bad moments but I didn’t hate it.
I have run a marathon. I will run another.
- The Stats. For those remotely interested my garmin splits which are too long to paste into my blog, you can see them here.
My brain and hands were so numb with cold that it took me a full minute to manage to stop my garmin at the end as my chip time and garmin times show!