My First Marathon

But will it be my last?

To detail it here – hopefully instead of telling everyone the same thing – and to remind myself next year… here’s how it went.

We arrived in Stratford for the Shakespeare marathon at about 8:45am, changed, herded toddlers and children towards the start and did the toilet ritual. The start line had moved from last year, but it was obvious where to go. Then we spent about 15 minutes standing around waiting for the start klaxon.

Obviously the start was crowded; there were fat/slow/lazy people everywhere – as I did a lap around the town centre, I just found myself zig-zagging through them all and getting frustrated somewhat. It was nice to have Rowan, Kat, Jenny, Emily, Rachel, Helen, Vickie, Anderson and Bailey all looking on as I raced past. Suffice to say, I was full of beans at this point in the race 🙂

I knew I was running relatively quickly, at least for the first half marathon – I did 12 miles in about 1 hour 30, or thereabouts – and enjoyed myself certainly until sometime after this point, which makes me wonder if I should do half marathon’s in the future and not bother with full ones (now I’ve done it… ) but that’s an argument for another day.

Anyway, at about 16(?) miles, I went to the loo; while sitting down on the toilet (hey, at least I didn’t just hide behind a hedge) my legs were busy shaking. By about 18 miles I was making a conscious effort to slow down a little, and keep my heart beat at around 150-156. I suspect I generally failed at this. In my mind I knew I had little more than my daily morning run left to complete – but it certainly dragged on. My fingers and toes had been getting slightly numb since perhaps 18 miles. Maybe earlier.

The last 5-8 (?) miles of the marathon involve running down a straight disused railway track – the Greenway – this dragged on for a long time. Especially as we’d covered part of it on lap one. By about 20 miles, my stomach area was starting to cramp slightly; By 22-23 ish miles, I had slowed down quite a lot – but discovered myself overtaking walkers doing the half marathon. My vision started to blur slightly, and my legs felt pretty useless perhaps at about 24 miles – and time / distance seemed to drag on and on.

Eventually I returned to the recreation ground/park in the middle of Stratford for the finish. In retrospect I could have upped my pace at bit at this point – but it still seemed like there was some distance left to run, and I couldn’t remember the route that well from last year – so it wasn’t until the last corner that I sprinted what is probably the last 50 metres to the finish line. My legs were numb, I was just glad the ground was quite flat as I couldn’t really feel them. Thankfully I didn’t trip which would have been a pain.

Once over the finish line I just wanted to collapse and remove my t-shirt. My shoulders had ached for about the last hour. I staggered back to where the waiting family were and promptly collapsed on the floor. My legs then took turns in cramping in alternate muscles – Jenny didn’t approve of my method of punching myself in the appropriate cramping muscle and helped me stretch – which I think helped.

So, anyway, would I do it again? Yes. But I somehow need to get a better sense of pace. On my own, two to three weeks ago – with no one to chase – I did 24 miles in about 3 hours 30 mins and that was difficult enough; yet I did the entire marathon in 3 hours 35 mins on Sunday. I can see that I probably went too quick for the first half, but I’m not sure I have the discipline (?) to slow myself down in the first half enough to have an effect towards the end.

So, Nottingham’s marathon beckons sometime in September, I think.

If I’d done just the half marathon, I’d have been in good form at the end (not tired, able to run the last mile or so very quickly etc); yet I did the full marathon and found it pretty hard going. So, should I focus instead on just doing half marathons quickly? I don’t think I have the lanky runners physique which suits marathon runners…..

Update: apparently I was 184th out of nearly 900 runners. 🙂

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