Sunday 11th May 2014
The sky was overcast and drizzly.
My mum, partner and I waited for the start of the race in the crowded sports hall.
I was confident of a good race so I started at the front of the pack as the gun went off.
By the first quarter of a mile I was gasping for breath and my legs felt tired.
My enthusiasm was soon squashed and I settled into a smooth, comfortable rhythm.
Not long into the race I saw my supporters. I threw them the gloves I had taken off.
I tried to keep with other runners, but every time I found a steady rhythm I would be deserted again. One dropped off my pace to run with a fellow club member, another got too far ahead of me.
Still, I stayed mentally strong, refusing to stop, even when I accepted water from the numerous aid stations.
The weather improved, brightening the scenic route.
I kept checking my watch and noticing the mile markers were accurate.
I overcame the occasional hills and repeated sections without feeling deflated.
As the distance dragged on and my pace slowed my mind strayed to food. I wanted the banana I had given my family to keep ready for me but I had to cross the line before I could replenish the calories I had burned.
It was a hugely satisfying race as I finished in the top third overall, and in the top half of my age and gender category. In contrast to my first marathon I was able to interact with the marshals on route and not feel as if I had failed to represent my capabilities.
I ran my second marathon because it was local and I needed to prove to myself that I could run the entire distance. I followed an intermediate training plan that lasted more than 20 weeks.
I developed mental strength and a greater tolerance for pain during my long runs, and overcame a bout of illness.
My first marathon taught me so many lessons about preparation. The changes I have made since then meant I finished 46 minutes quicker.
- I registered for the event months in advance.
- I used a respectable source for training advice (a plan endorsed by Runner’s World magazine).
- I logged my workouts and mileage, through my previous blog.
- I learnt to use more functions on my Garmin watch, including lap counts, which encouraged me to run slower and to warm-up and cool-down.
I still made one mistake pre-race; thinking that gluing together the front of my well-worn trainers meant adequate footwear.
Most memorable were some impressive runners that participated in the race, including Rob Young and athletes that were completing their 100th, 200th and 600th marathon. It was also the first time I appreciated runners who finished last, for some had endured over seven hours on the route.
Unsurprisingly, my gut reaction was to sign up for my next marathon.