It was the big day last Sunday. A beautiful crisp October morning, mist across the gorgeous race course, stunning blue sky and not a hint of a breeze. Conditions were perfect.
I’ve wanted to run the Chester marathon since I started running. I could just imagine the stunning scenery. And it met expectation, it was a lovely course, undulated but mainly flat. Certainly PB potential but not for me, not yesterday. I did 3:59 a good 90 seconds slower than my last marathon in 2012 and 9 minutes slower than my target. But I did it and I’ve learned lot.
I’ll post later about what went wrong so I never make the same mistakes again. But what went right? Well the weather for a start. My training was good (minus the left ankle injury) and my family’s support was immense, they got me round.
Now they say each race is a journey. Christ mine certainly was. I made mistakes from the start and one was drinking too much. I had to pee in a field, all over may trainers at mile 5. I exploded a gel all over my arms and watch so I was covered in gel and pee from early on. A bit distracting when you quite like everything to be clean, clean and clean!
My left knee started to hurt shortly after mile 6 so I started to prod at a trigger point to ease the ITB. It worked but I pressed a tad too hard over the 16 miles. Just look at the state of it now! Then my lower back started wrecking because of the stupid bum bag full of gels and jelly beans.
So I wanted to give up early on. But I knew I would see my husband, Si at mile 9 so I waited to see him. He told me to keep going, so I did. I knew he’d be at mile 12 so I thought I’ll just stay till then, see how I feel. I felt worse at 12 but he cheered me on and I thought, I’ll see him at 15 so I’ll stick till then. And somewhere around 13 miles I suddenly felt awesome. My pace picked right up and I was flying down the country lane, really enjoying it.
I saw Si at mile 15 and told him all was good. I knew the rest of my family would be at mile 20 so I was really looking forward to that. I dug in and actually enjoyed it. Mental how the mind can just flip from sheer desperation to elation.
As I came up to 20 miles, running strong, I saw my daughter cheering the runners with her cow bell with Si. My mum was there with her husband and I just welled up when I saw them all. They made such a racket and it was amazing. You can see how chuffed I was below. I left them on a high and a hill!
I was soon surrounded by the sub 4 hour pacers and their crowd who I’d stayed ahead of the whole time. I was gutted I’d slowed so much but their support was immense. They were fab and knew what hills were coming. I kept with them, enjoying a bit of banter until mile 23/24 when my right knee locked.
I only slowed by 30 seconds but I had to watch them push ahead. I couldnt keep the pace with such pain in both knees and my back. So many people around me were walking I just willed them and myself on. I kept telling myself pain is good, it means I’m pushing it, it’s meant to be hard, it’s just pain. I thought of my brother’s friend, a runner, who this year had a brain injury and was hospitalised but yet he ran the 56 mile bullock smithy in September in like 12 hours!!! I thought if he can do that I can bloody run a couple of miles.
At mile 25 my sub 4 marathon drifted away. My mum and her husband, Alan, were there cheering me on and you can see how tired I was…
Then randomly at about 800m out, this woman pointed at me and shouted “Joanne, you can do a sub 4 if you just pick up the pace now!!!!” So I looked at her and said, “ok!”
Thank you whoever you were because I bloody sprinted from then at a 7 minute mile pace. God knows where it came from but it got me over the line in 3:59 when I’d thought that goal was well and truly gone. Supporters really make all the difference. Thank you, thank you!!!
Unlike my first marathon I wasn’t elated at the end. I was relived, exhausted and in serious pain. Back, knees, ankles and stomach. After falling on the floor I had to visit the portaloos and it wasn’t pleasant!
I’m happy I got round just under 4 hours. Quite an achievement with injuries. But I always seem to be injured and it’s so frustrating! I can run fast, I can do a 3:45 / 3:50 marathon I know I can. I will.
So I’m taking a few weeks off now. It’s time to heal. Time to think what’s next. Time to rest.