On Sunday, I ran my first Marathon. Alone.
It began Saturday night; while cleaning out my hydration
pack for a planned 13.1 miles, I had a mad idea. (As my ideas tend to be!)I was due to run ny 26.2 next weekend – take it slower this Sunday, build up to it. But I was feeling strong. Confident. Annoyed at washing out the hydration pack to *only* run 13.1.
So the next morning I got ready to run a Marathon. Fancy new visor, annoyingly odd socks. I tucked my grizzling boys back in bed, waited for my watch to find GPS, double checked my route, picked out my audiobook… and set off.
The first 8/9 miles were fun & relatively easy going. I’d slowed my pace to 10 minute miles, and my legs felt comfortable and happy. It was cloudy but not rainy, slight breeze – ideal. It was also really pretty! I finished the trail section and ran into town – where my problems started.
Back on the pavement, my knee was not happy. I was wearing ny road shoes (knowing a lot of the route would be on paths), but the change from mud was jarring. I stopped at one point to stretch out my leg, and had to change my gait slightly but it was okay. I also took the opportunity to eat my Peanut Trek bar (yum!).
I changed my route slightly and ran to the train station to borrow their bathroom (after two kids, bathroom breaks are essential!) before heading back towards the lake, and softer ground.
By this point my knee was very sore, but I hit 15 miles and suddenly felt a little better. Maybe it was the softer ground, or being more careful to engage my hips? Either way, it was better. I took a few random paths to up my mileage and once just because it looked fun – muddy, hilly, the things I like!
Not long after, sugar craving hit me like a freight train. I had another wholefood bar with me, which I ate, but it was nutty rather than fruity and just made me thirsty! I slowed down a little and ambled along, dreaming of jelly babies and lucozade. I had an inexplicable craving for dried cranberries (maybe because I was regretting my snack choice!). I think even a glucose tablet would have helped me there.
At 20 miles my legs felt like they were humming? I was at my farthest ever distance run and I felt weirdly emotional. I sped up, hoping I could get the last 10k done in an hour… And my back went weird.
Detouring into the field (for softer ground), I slowed to a jog and tried to assess the damage. It wasn’t sharp or urgent but I’d definitely hurt a muscle group. Running with a backpack is hard work, my shoulders usually feel it first but it seemed my back was protesting instead today! A bleep from my watch then told me my run had been saved?! SLIGHTLY annoying. I restarted but saw very little battery life left. So knowing that from the main cycle-route I had 3 miles to go, I decided to go off-road for 3 to get the miles in.
I ran across the field, under a slightly creepy bridge, and did a circuit of the final one, and back. Finally I got back to the path and carried on the last stretch. I was a bit emotional at this point, my back was in agony and called my OH, unsure I could finish it by running – should I walk, or give up and wait to be collected? I decided to keep walking. After a short walk I found I could jog again, so I alternated jogging and walking for the next 2 miles, and slowly jogged the home stretch.
It was not easy. It wasn’t always fun. I finished slightly deflated at having to walk – feeling that I had successfully run 20 miles and just hobbled the final 6.2. I think it’s normal to feel a little deflated after a long run, but I really didn’t feel like I had done a marathon! I also didn’t have my Garmin celebrating with my, or an exact time (4:40ish?) so it didn’t feel very ‘official’.
But I’ve had a chance to think, and now I’m actually fairly proud. It’s a very different feeling running alone – and there were no crowds, no celebration, no one spurring me on. I wanted to turn back a few times, I desperately wanted something to keep me going. In the end I though about the 100km – how hard and emotional it would be. How my real training isn’t about Fitness, but Endurance – physical and mental.
I ran a Marathon yesterday. And it was great!