Before I tell you about the New Forest Marathon, I’d like to say a big thank you to Sandra from ‘A Promise to Dad‘ for reposting one of my posts. Please go and check out her blog – it’s a great record of her achievements. 😀
I felt strangely calm in the run-up to the start of the New Forest Marathon – probably because I was aware that I had not trained well enough to achieve a PB, although I was confident that I could finish the race and had decided to treat it as a long, slow, run with a friend. It was a weird feeling, as I’m usually nervous before big races. Although I didn’t expect a PB, I reckoned that I could beat my time from last year:
|Mar||4:44:55||New Forest Marathon||23 Sep 12|
|Mar||4:32:01||Milton Keynes Marathon||29 Apr 12|
|Mar||4:29:33||Paris Marathon||7 Apr 13|
Stuart and I arrived at the start quite early, so we had a chance to see the half marathoners before they left. Stu had brought his bike, so that he could cycle around the course with Alice and Alice and cheer the LRRs on. It was a different atmosphere from last year, when the cold rain forced everyone to find shelter wherever possible. There were lots of runners joining in with the warm up and also a local pipe band.
I had intended to go and cheer at the start of the race, but it suddenly struck me that I had less than 45 minutes to get myself ready. It was a little disappointing that I wasn’t able to hunt down Steve, my former colleague. I needed to make some important decisions, such as how many bottles of water to carry and how many packets of shotbloks to take.
Before I knew it, it was time for us to line up. There were flags telling us where to start… but ominously there was only a 4+ hours section – nothing for 4:30 or 5 hours!
Irene and I set off quite well, but we had to keep reminding each other to slow down. The miles started to tick by, especially as we found ourselves surrounded by 100 club marathoners. At 9k, we started to pass the slowest half marathoners who had started an hour before us. I know some people will think I’m being negative and hypocritical and I understand that we all have different challenges in life, but it seems strange to enter a half marathon without intending to run it… two hours to do 10k isn’t even walking quickly!
At 10k, we saw Mike and Pauline Dukes and Lawrence. High five!
We had a chat with Brian Mills (the chap with the tattoos in the photo above)… who was running his 997th marathon. He is hoping to be the first British man to complete 1000 marathons – with his next three marathons already having been booked. He is also rumoured to have a butterfly tattoo for each of his marathons!
We kept running and watching out for our cheerleaders. Unfortunately, the weather was far warmer than I’d hoped and by the time we got to 9 miles, I was feeling very hot. Then finally, at the half marathon turn off point, we saw Stu.
It was great to see a supporter (even if Alice and Alice had already left at that point to chase their chaps). It was also good to be able to throw my hat to Stu, in the hope that I would be able to cool down a bit.
We carried on running and were surprised that Rhiannon and Simon were still with us. We knew that they were aiming for around 4:25-4:30. At 12 miles we reached the first off-road part of the race. This was where Irene and I started to slow down. Simon started moving ahead and we urged Rhiannon to continue with him. Irene wanted a comfort break and I wanted to walk for a little bit and take on some water. I wasn’t bothered about what other people would think of me stopping to walk during a race. However, it was a risky strategy as it was likely to make me feel faint and dizzy. Fortunately, I was able to walk for about five minutes. The dizziness passed and I was able to start running again with Irene.
Stuart kept popping up along the run route and we also saw Alice Y. at about 14 miles. She explained that the heat was taking its toll on some of our friends and that they had either dropped out or were running more slowly than they had expected 🙁
We kept going, but the temperature seemed to be rising. By 20 miles, our lack of training was starting to show. Irene and I were both starting to feel stiff and tired. We both just wanted to finish. It was great to see the crowd of LRRs waiting for us at the 23-mile point. It gave us just enough adrenaline to get us through the last 3 miles.
Finally, the school was in sight… but Irene and I didn’t have the energy to sprint. The speed humps in the last 100m felt like hurdles, so we ended up dragging ourselves across the line in over 5 hours. In conclusion, the race didn’t turn out quite the way I’d hoped or expected, but I can cross it off my list of goals for the year
For a different perspective on the race, check out Hannah’s blog post: http://redheadontherun.wordpress.com/2013/09/24/my-first-marathon-done/
Although I didn’t do as well as I had hoped to, it was great that some of my club mates did well. Roy was 3rd V60 Male and Di was 2nd V45 female. They won lovely hand-painted mugs. Well done!