This was a hard event for me to commit to as on first read it just makes you say “no thanks” and go looking for another event. The marathon course is 16 laps of a the very exposed race course in December it the north of England. Me being a fair weather running/tarmac loving southern softy, it was a hard sell. The tarmac path loop is inside the race course used for the horses which has a few hills thrown in towards the end of the loop. The golf course in the middle gave you something to look at and balls to dodge on the way round.
I had already run my first marathon at windermere earlier this year and was looking forward to a flat easier and hopefully faster marathon this time round. As always with running, I have been on the way back from injury but still managed a good 9 week build up for this run. It was always going to be a gamble running in December but decided to go for it and give sub 3 hours a real go. My first marathon was 3:08 on a hard course and was confident that this would get the very large monkey off my back before 2014.
Training went very well with some big PB’s at 10 mile and 5K leading up to the marathon. Managed to hit 20 miles and 50+ mile weekly total a few weeks too 🙂 so was looking good for the big day. Knew the weather would make or break my sub 3 and felt myself sinking as I checked weather reports for the day.
I arrived early for the race which is held by North East Marathon club, a small marathon-obsessed organisation which holds cheaper small marathons round the north east. Communication with the organisation was excellent, the course was accurately measured and even had t-shirts/medals. This was the first time the event had been held here so a few small problems but nothing of real note. The coffee van was told to pack up by the groundsmen, even though the racecourse had no where to get hot drinks? A real jobsworth and a shame as I was forced to use the dreaded Mc D yuck burger house instead.
We had a staggered start for each of the 3 distances running at the same time on the same course, this turned out to be quite confusing and annoying as numbers were colour coded but only on the front. This made it almost impossible to know for sure who you were racing against as we looped round and round.
At the Start/Finish was the water station and the volunteers were great, lots of much needed cheers. The laps were counted for you but I was still not 100% sure i was on my last lap when i finished, a bit confusing for a first timer.
The sub 3 hour time was never on for me on that day, the wind was unreal and with the course being so exposed, it quickly turned into a nightmare. Down the long straight getting battered over and over again, i Crossed the line with 3:11 ish on my watch and a horrible feeling in my head as again I told myself I had messed up my marathon. It would be easy to just blame the weather, or my stupid Nike+ watch, so I will. I planned to run at 6:50 min/mile pace or quicker for the whole run and my watch happily said that was what I was doing. Not till half way (the only possible check point) which i hit at 1h35, I realised that the thing was not working right and I had no strength to pick things up. The second half was strangely more enjoyable as I settled into it and apart from a slight dip at lap 13, held the pace ok. Just not in sub 3 shape yet it turns out, a real hard one to accept. Came 3rd which I am happy with but should have been able to hit that goal.
So time to sum up this quite long report and well done for getting to the end 🙂 A very enjoyable, well run event but at the Mercy of the weather due to being very exposed and in December. Very impressive runs by fellow striders with outstanding effort at 50K by Anna, made of stronger stuff than me.
On to the next challenge and will continue my sub 3 hunt next year. More lessons leaned, still glad I did this race and would highly recommend any even organised by the Northeast Marathon club.