2012 MK Marathon was rain, rain and more rain. 2013 MK Marathon was sun, sun and more sun!
Today was the day. I'd trained and trained and trained and trained some more. My longest run in one go before the marathon was 24 miles. Not very fast miles mind you but I had made sure that I was not injured or in pain after each long distance attempt.
You're supposed to taper before your first long event. Something I've not yet got the hang of. Reduce your mileage, carb load, stretches and gentle jogs. My legs were twitching for a run on the Friday two days before the marathon and I just had to go for a run. Granted it was only 3 miles but it took some of the tension out of my legs. I felt like an animal boxed up and not able to move after all my training.
I had my plan all set out. Run the first 10 miles as I would a half marathon. Don't put everything into it, keep my pace steady and after 10 miles adopt a strict - walk up hills, run/jog everything else. If you feel queasy, eat the oat & nut bar in your bag. If you feel hot, chuck water over yourself. Dextrose tab when you see a water stop. If something doesn't feel right, run on it for 10 mins. If it still doesn't feel right, stop and check it out. That was my plan. No time, no speed, no pace and the only mileage marker I was looking for was good old number 10. Easy. Hahahahahaha!!!!
The waiting from 6am to 10am on Monday was beyond painful. I had everything prepared and ready the night before. I had a lift organised (thank you Jason) and friends to distract me (thank you Claire and Lesley & Rodrigo). Sun tan lotion, money, water, arm warmers, money, oat & nut bar, dextrose tabs, phone, water, wind proof jacket, socks, money........ I'm sure I forgot something!!
So many people at the start. I've never felt so packed into a start line before. It didn't help the nerves but it was soon over when the horn sounded the start of the race. Remember, nice n easy. So difficult with people rushing past you to get ahead as fast as possible.
The route began on the road outside the stadium which took us to central Milton Keynes. A few loops of the office blocks - would have been more interesting around the shopping centre - up and down the same hill a few times before heading downhill towards Caldecotte. This was lovely after expending so much work on those hills at the start!! We stayed on the roads until we got to Simpson and then we started to use road and paths as directed by all those lovely cheering Marshall's. A brief "hello" to Caldecotte lake before heading towards Walnut Tree on the red ways. The heat was starting to affect my feet now and my rule of running with it for 10 minutes was getting close. A quick stop to sort out my sock and I was back into the running groove. Then the first hill after not seeing many for a few miles. Ouch. Mile 10 was at the top of this hill. So unfair. Stubborn determination kicked in and on step in front of the other I gently climbed the hill. Mile 10, that's it, no more running up hills, woohoo!!! My first task complete.
We were now heading towards Willen lake and the shade in the trees was wonderful. I had been using my buff as a cooling scarf around my neck and I had been using the water from the water stops to drench myself to keep cool. I couldn't afford to sweat to much, dehydration in this weather was already affecting other runners and I didn't want to suffer from that myself. Approaching Willen Lake I started to feel queasy, time for that oat and nut bar in the bag. Wow, such a welcome relief. I had been taking the dextrose tabs at each water stop but after a while my stomach wanted more than just sugar. The queasy feeling eased of and I was back to running at an easy pace again just in time to run all the way around Willen Lake. It felt like ages to get around that lake.
A lovely shady tree moment at the edge of Woolstone and then we were heading towards Linford along the canal. I tried to distract myself with the scenery but I was starting to lose concentration now. All this plodding and one foot in front of the other was getting monotonous. Are we there yet? At this point the 5hr pace orange T-shirt dude caught up with me. Why did I notice this guy more than the rest? All the other orange t-shirt pace dudes had groups of runners with or behind them. The 5 hour pace dude had most of the runners looking like they were trying to run away from him. This cheered me up no end and with a hearty chuckle my running mojo came back to me.
From that point I played a game of leap frog with a number of other runners, the 5 hour pace dude and a speed walker that I was just not going to be beaten by. I would walk up the hills. Runners, 5hr pace dude and the speed walker would pass me. On the flats and down hills I would pass them all again. We carried on this game for at least 8 miles. Totally distracting me from the fact that I was nearing 24 miles which I totally missed because all of a sudden there was the stadium. Wow, those miles flew by. Or did they?
My thoughts over those last 2 miles were - I can see the stadium now, keep running for that last mile, keep running, keep running up to the stadium, legs are burning, keep running, feet hurt, keep running, there's the stadium entrance, keep running, move those legs, pick up those feet, move those arms, smile, keep running, turn the corner, look at the finish, look at the finish - WOW that's the finish!!!!!! Seriously, I've finished, I've finished - WOOHOOOOO!!!!!!!!
The weather was gorgeous but oh boy was I glad to have a soaking at around mile 11 and the very polite kids at Linford just after mile 20 with their super soakers were oh so welcoming. The crowds and charities along the route were fabulous and I'm so glad most of the water stops had water and not lucazade.
Will I do it again. YES!!
Would like to make sure that I say thank you to all those lovely peeps that sent me good luck & cheered me on. It was very much appreciated. THANK YOU XXX