26th July 2015 was my first marathon event. I have ran this distance more about a dozen times now. I just hadn’t ran in any event beyond half marathon.
The night before the race I ate about 600g of boiled potatoes with a can of baked beans. I also drank about 3 litres of water the day before race day. The night before I also put some overnight oats in the fridge. I had about 150g oats and covered this with soya milk. You then put it in the fridge and it goes soft over night and tasted even yummier than cooked porridge. I only just heard about this method by one of my friends Mélanie.
The things I had prepared to take with me were my Vegan Runners Tshirt, My fluorescent yellow short running shorts (which I found out at the end showed everything once soaked :O ), My Hoka trail sneaks, my toe socks, my Salomon Lab waist belt and collapsible water, my headsweats cap to stop so much rain getting in my face and 240g of dates which were squeezed into little zippie bags. I had 2 bags each hour (60g) which gave me 40g of carbs each hour…. oh and I brought a waterproof seal bag to put my phone in for music. (never took lotion after seeing the weather).
On the morning I lathered up my feet with petroleum jelly. I use Cotton Tree which can be found in many discount stores and £ shops. This product company has been contacted and is 100% vegan 🙂
I put some on my nipples too. I dunno why as I have never had any nipple problems before but I thought just in case. In my holding bag I brought 4 Lucozade orange sport drinks (2 for me and 2 for Steve if he wanted them), spare socks and hoka conquest sneaks, bio degradable small waste sacks, tracksuit bottoms, underwear and a clean tshirt to put on later.
I woke up at 5:10am, got dressed and had breakfast. Me and Philip were both ready to be collected at 6am by my friend Steve and his partner Rhian. Philip was coming along to show us support as he wasn’t working. It was nice that Rhian was going too so they could keep each other company in between laps. I can’t say how much their support helped. May not have had this luxury in other events.
The registration was from 8am and we wanted to give ourselves a nice 2 hour cover to get there safely on time. We got there at about 7:40am. We noticed registration was already open, as people were already warming up with a light run, wearing bibs as we entered the Holiday Inn car park.
The event is in Northampton and consists of 6 laps around this reservoir. It’s a nice route. I would say about 1/4 to 1/3 of it was man made path and the rest was grass trails.
So at 8:50 we were all called to the start line for the 9am start. We took a few minutes walk to reach it. They announced some people who had done this same run yesterday and was doing it again today. They also announced someone who done this run yesterday and the day before. I quickly checked my sneakers were tight enough, but not too tight. Me and Steve wished each other luck and then we set off. I started with a few seconds of walking really and then really slowly picked it up.
I find it hard pacing my first few miles. If it’s a busy race it’s hard to make a good first mile, if it’s a quiet race I find it hard to go slowly. I had planned to bring in an average 10 minute mile on my first mile but I got a 9:40. I could see Steve ahead of me after about 1/3 a mile coming onto the reservoir trail. I could just about see him by the green middle strip around the Vegan Runners Tshirt. It was dry until about half an hour into the race. Then it started spitting. Each lap was about 4.36 miles. I managed to slow down a bit for the rest of the lap making my rough average of about 10 minute miles. When making the first lap I wondered where Philip and Rhian were. I checked my time and said each lap would be about 45 minutes… couldn’t see them anywhere. Not to worry because I still had date packets and I can get water at the drinks station, I don’t need energy drink right now. I grabbed a cup of water, threw it down my gullet and chucked the plastic cup into the garbage bag and off I went again.
I realised as I got into lap 2 that I was feeling a bit stronger than I thought. I then decided to pick up the pace a little and see what happens. Again about 1/3 into the route I could once again see Steve going around the reservoir. He looked like he was keeping up a good pace and sticking with it. I decided I would try and do a few miles in within the 9 minute range average and see how I got on. I was toying with the idea that if I felt comfortable doing this, I may make it to 8:45-8:55 minute miles later on and bag myself a sub 4 hour race. That would be awesome.
After I got around to half way through this second lap I was really needing to pee. I’m not sure how because I had been sat on the loo for 15 minutes while waiting for the race to begin back at Holiday Inn. I started to think if I had been acquainted with a portaloo since arriving, and I didn’t think I had so knew it would be a Holiday Inn toilet job. As I got closer to the end of lap 2 I was wondering if Philip and Rhian would be here this time. They were which was good so I grabbed a Lucazade orange off them and some more packs of dates for my waist pack. I then ran to the bathrooms quickly, thanked reception and off I went again into my third lap.
I was listening to some mixes off YouTube while running. By now the rain got a bit heavier. The tracks I listened to were progressive house tracks and they just kinda had a flow to them that really helped with my running. It was a quiet event with only 54 runners on the results for this day. So over the distance you were pretty spread out throughout the course. At some points I couldn’t see anyone in front of me or behind me. The music helped me keep pushing on. I also had a Rockstep track which is a mix of dubstep and rock/metal music. This was for my angry moments. I never got any angry moments though. I did get some tough parts, but I’ll talk about them as I get to them in the race.
I remember coming up to the half way mark… I’d ran 13.1 miles nearly and I felt great… could I do that again? Oh fuck yes! “wait hang on why so sure of yourself?.. erm cus that was easy. OK then you need to pick it up a bit… this is a marathon and it’s not supposed to be EASY”. A bit arrogant? Maybe, but it was true to how I felt and helped keep pushing me on. I remember switching everything off around me and just going. As I came to the end of this lap I noticed Steve talking to Philip and Rhian. I’d expected him to start running with me as I passed. Only later when watching a video Philip was recording at the time, did I even realise Philip was calling to me. He was asking if I wanted anything and I just ran right past lol. Poor Philip sorrrrry 😀 I had 2 cups of water at the drinks station this time and on I went.Towards the end of lap 3 I was on a mission to get under 4 hours at the end of the race.
Now I’m into lap 4, and I knew that I could start focussing on staying just below 9 minute miles now and try and get my average for the whole race down as close to 9 minute miles as possible. This would put me just under 4 hours at the finish line. The rain was really coming down now. It was belting down on the first road section of the course. Bouncing off the ground and making puddles very quickly. Also the temperature dropped quiet a bit. My feet were now soaked. The Hoka trails waterproof covering had served me well though to this point. Oh lets not forget the wind which was inevitable with the cold air, rain and open reservoir grounds. I was running enough though to not notice this and kept soldiering on. I noticed that when I turned by the other end of the reservoir I couldn’t see Steve behind me. I’d passed him earlier on the road section as there’s a bit of an out and back section. We high-five each other and he shouted “go on Scotty!”.
I started to notice that I didn’t have enough bags of dates to complete comfortably. I’d maintained 2 bags every hour but started to wonder why I seemed to be 2 bags short, as I thought Philip had passed all my bags by now. As I approached the end of this lap they were not there. I fancied my energy drink then as well. I was a little panicked. This showed on my next lap. I slowed a bit as I worried I was out of fuel. I think because I had started to ration I was losing momentum. Also my feet felt really heavy due to all the rain absorbed into my sneaks, and the course was getting pretty muddy. I switched my music down as it was becoming a distraction. Every time my right foot hit the ground I counted 1 step. I kept doing this from a count of 1 just up to 4. I repeated this over and over a few dozen times and when my focus strengthened again, I upped this to a count of 1 up to 10 then 1 up to 20. I knew I was slowing down as my average pace over the distance so far, had slowed down from about 9:14 to 9:22 minute miles. Still I passed Steve again at the bisection. I don’t know whether he noticed my counting over and over lol. We high-fived again (I think, I can’t really remember now :O I then grabbed my phone out of my waist pack and dialled through to Philip. “Please can you be there at the end of this next lap? I don’t know how long I will be maybe 20 mins but I need fuel!” He said he was on his way there now and I thanked him and and kept on going.
As I started to approach the end of lap 5 I could see Philip and Rhian in the distance. For the last 10 minutes all I’d been able to think about was clean sneakers and socks. I was debating the idea though as I knew they were tarmac Hoka Conquest sneakers and the trail had got seriously muddy now. I decided it was worth the risk. I called over while approaching. “New sneakers and socks please quickly”. Philip started to get them out for me as I ripped off my sneaks and socks. Sneakers were hard to remove due to a bit of swelling I think lol. New socks and shoes and off I was… I grabbed my last energy drink and 2 packs of dates!!!!…. and 2 waters at the drink station. I knew I’d only need half the energy drink and didn’t’ want to carry the weight. So I squeezed half out on as I ran and drank the rest, then put the empty bottle in one of my back pockets on my waist belt.
My feet felt fresh again and the rain had stopped… “thanks for being a king and generous mother”… I called to Earth. I felt A OK again. I still kept it a bit slower as I wanted to make sure everything was good and that I could finish strong. Also I was right about the slipperiness of the ground. I managed by staying n the grass and not the mud trail that ran through the grass. The energy started to kick in pretty quickly from my drink and I started to speed up for the last few miles. I knew I was going to miss the sub 4 hour mark at this point. I still picked it up as I thought I’d like to be sub 4:05:00. As I kicked my pace up on the final stretch at 8:35 minute miles I kept looking at my watch and it was showing 04:04 but not the seconds. I was striving to get through before it hit 5 minutes. As I passed the mark though they called my time as 4:05:03 and I was 19th out of 54 . This gives me an average pace of 9:21 minutes per mile. Still I wanted anything under 5 hours and so I can’t complain about this time at all. Also in the end I never ate those last 2 packs of dates. 😉
Other runners congratulated me and me them. We all shook hands. I grabbed my big chunky medal which I love, and my goody bag. Swapped the cheese and onion crisps for ready salted and donated the other sweets to other runners. I then went up to near the end line where Rhian and Philip were. Philip asked how I was… I swore “effing hell” (only jokingly) and we waited for Steve. Only 5 minutes behind my time Steve came running up. We cheered and shouted him to keep going. He passed us and we walked down to greet with him at the finish.
Both soaked, a little tired and very happy we took a picture together and then got dried off and then all headed back to Birmingham 🙂
On a plus note we both mentioned we weren’t overly tired. I had a hard few miles of panic but we both could have done better. We were also cautious not to overdo it as we have the JW Ultra 30 mile event coming up mid September.
Woke up today, legs a bit stiff around the knees but feeling pretty good. I think I’ll do a bit of swimming this next few days and try getting out for a few shortish runs towards the end of the week and resume training for the Ultra 😀
Thanks to the organisers of this event. I really enjoyed it and I’m hoping that next year I may be able to return to do both marathons one a day after the other. If you fancy this run next year then you can check it out at the Madeyarun website. Also thanks to Philip and Rhian for their support. It meant a lot and helped so much especially towards the end when I had fresh sneakers 😉
Thanks for reading. Everyone.
Peace and love
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