As a relatively new member to the striders, I am still finding my feet in the world of running and this race was my very first marathon (baptism by fire). Not sure if this was the best choice for my first, but the chance to run such a beautiful course won me over.
The race Starts/finishes at Brathay Hall, a very nice large hotel in extensive grounds overlooking Lake Windermere itself. With heavy rain the day before, I was happy to see the weather change for the better on race day. With almost perfect running conditions I got the chance to wear my new Striders running vest for the very first time. I joined up with some fellow Striders before the race and got some last min race tips from Dave.
The facilities were ideal, with ample toilets (very important), changing facilities and various stalls set up for the fun day held at the same time. Parking was well organised despite the boggy ground and the race organiser were all very friendly. The race begins with a slow procession led by a brass band down the main road where the race starts, a very good idea and adds to the build up and excitement. The 10 in 10 runners had already set off before the main race, this being their 10th and last marathon in 10 consecutive days. Yep, you read that right; they run this marathon every day for ten days in a row round one of the hardest courses in the UK. These people are truly outstanding athletes; I passed a few of the 10 in 10 runners on the way round and gave as much support as possible. This really adds something to the race experience and helps keep you going.
My build up for the race had been good, with same fast half marathon results and injury free being the main one. Being new to marathon running I got great advice from Striders during the last few months. I also found the weekly pod cast; marathon talk, to be of great help. I gave myself a 4/5 month training build up and aimed to do 60+ miles a week. In the end I found this impossible to do, I just found it too hard finding the time to fit 4/5 runs in a week and only hit 50 miles a few times. I still hit the start line feeling good and was ready for my first marathon.
The bang went and the race began, I was a good way off the start line but still had lots of room at the start to get up to race pace with ease. I had a rough aim of 7 min miles for the first half and decided to check my watch at each mile marker. The first 4/5 miles is on closed off traffic free roads towards Hawkshead where I was stopping over the weekend with my better half. I felt very good over these first few miles with my mile times hitting 6:45 min miles. I knew this was too fast and should slow down, but on I went. I charged down a large hill towards Hawkshead to see Kathleen and our pet dog cheering me on as I waved like a mad man. Felt great and pushed on past the lead female runner and settled on the back of a group for the next few miles.
The hills kept coming till mile 7 when the daddy hill hit, Dave already warned me so was ready and dug in. Soon I was picking off running and chasing the next one down. At mile 10 I knew I should slow down but found myself locked in a good battle with the lead group, yes the lead group. I knew I was in trouble at this point but the excitement of the race kept me going. I think at mile 13 I was in the top 3 and still felt strong passing half way in 1h26 ish I think. This is when the Windermere’s relentless undulations started to hit me hard. There are almost no flat bits on this course and I knew the wall was on its way to meet me.
At mile 17 I was not enjoying the race anymore, with the lead runner leaving me behind and the first signs of cramp in my right leg. Dont panic Gareth, don’t panic was all that was running through my head. The next big hill was mile 20 and this well and truly finished off my legs, I ran to the top but knew my race was over. I was over heating badly and it felt like forever between water stations, thankfully some kind person had an orange on offer at the top of the hill to keep me going. Cramp hit me hard at this point and I have no idea how I kept going, I have never felt such pain and was getting funny looks from the spectators as I grunted my way past mile 21. Over the next 5 mile I was passed by a lot of runners and could do nothing about it but try to keep going. With 3 miles to go I found my 10th wind, with the idea that it’s only a parkrun to do I dug in and raised my pace again.
Home straight and was faced with…… yes another hill. Dig in time and even managed a small sprint finish crossing the line in 3h07mins 08 sec. I have never been so worn out in my life as I felt then; all I could do was hang over the railing pouring water over my head and spent the next 10 mins trying to breathe and not to just roll over and collapse.
Over all I am happy with the time and have a new found respect for anyone who puts themselves through this massive challenge of running a marathon. One amazing marathon course but you have to respect the hills and distance or suffer as I did. Will I run a marathon again? One a year maybe but Windermere is too hard on my knees; I still want to be running in my 60’s if possible. Well worth doing just for the experience, my first marathon but probably not my last.
|1||Marcus Scotney||Howgill Harriers||M||1||2:38:50|