Ah, Friday. 26th February 2016. Or 26/02/2016. Or 26.2.16, depending on how you like to write it down. And what else is 26.2?
So what’s a girl to do when 26/2 rolls around? Run a marathon, of course! Luckily for me (or unluckily, depending on your point of view), the awesome folks at Saxons, Vikings & Normans were holding a marathon at Deal in Kent on this very day. This was to be my third event with them, the others being the
Grimchurch Dymchurch Marathon and the mighty Cakeathon.
Before I continue, I must explain exactly why Saxons, Vikings & Normans Marathons & Challenges are so awesome.
- Chocolate at the fuel station
- Fudge at the fuel station
- Cake at the fuel station
- Chocolate in the goody bag
- Beer in the goody bag
- Best medal bling in the land
I should also mention that they genuinely are the friendliest group of race organisers in the world with lovely and supportive participants. Yes, the events are small, but they are so much fun – even when you’re in a world of pain and they are no longer fun, they somehow still are.
Play Doh not included in the goody bag.
The Marathon Day Marathon was held in Deal and consisted of 5 out and back laps along the sea wall – similar to Dymchurch, although fortunately we were spared those gale force headwinds. I say fortunately, the good thing about the Dymchurch winds (and yes, there is a good thing here) was the fact that they were SO insane, you ended up just having to laugh, otherwise you’d have cried in exhausation. Deal was almost perfect running weather, but on the return legs, there was a little bit of headwind. Nothing major, but it was just enough to tire you a bit and by the third lap, it was really getting annoying. Damn you, winds. The course was flat and apart from the wind on the back legs, it was a pleasant route – I liked looking at the sea and watching out for the landmarks I was using as a mental checkpoint – these included Deal Castle, the pier and a pirate flag which pleased me no end as I was able to channel my Cornish spirit with a “arrrrrrrrrrrrrr”.
So, how did the race go? Well, let me give you a quick rundown on how NOT to prepare.
- Don’t forget to eat lunch the day before
- Don’t get 4 hours sleep because you choose to wake up at 1.15am, 2.30am and 4.30am, before having to get up at 5.30am
- Don’t forget to drink plenty of water the day before
- Don’t forget Vaseline, reasoning to yourself “well, I’ve never needed it before”
- Always make sure your preferred pants are to hand and clean
- Don’t forget to eat your extra slice of toast and banana in the morning.
Whoops. So yes, the day before, I neglected to hydrate as well as I should have and I forgot to eat lunch. I slept badly. Mostly because when I have to get early, my inner body clock gets paranoid about missing the alarm, so it chooses to wake me frequently instead – THANKS BODY!
I usually have 3 slices of toast with a spread of raspberry jam on the morning of a marathon and a banana an hour beforehand. This is my tried and tested method and it hasn’t failed me yet. However, for whatever reason, (I blame still being asleep) I only had 2 slices of toast and never got round to eating my banana. Not a clever idea for someone who is prone to low blood sugar levels.
Now, let’s talk about pants. Yes, knickers. I have a few pairs of running pants – a pair of Runderwear and some pants from Decathlon. I had planned to wear my Runderwear, but I couldn’t find them the night before, so opted for my Decathlon pants. I wasn’t worried about this as I had worn them in the London Marathon with no problems. Ha! Ladies, let this be a lesson to always make sure your preferred pants are available. Before 5 miles, I felt a rub in the crease between my crotch and my thigh. I did an awkward little shuffle rejiggle to try to sort them out and carried on. At 8 miles, I had to put my hand in my trousers in public (oh the shame) and adjust them. All was fine for a mile or so, and then they started rubbing again. This continued for the rest of the marathon and at one point, I did consider nipping to the loos and losing them altogether, but quickly decided against it. Of course, if I’d Vaseline in my pocket, I could have used that, but typically I forgot it.
All this aside, I was keeping a reasonable and steady pace and felt comfortable, going through halfway at about 2:30 and feeling fairly fresh and comfortable.
And then I hit the metaphorical wall, about 6 miles early. I suddenly felt like my legs were like jelly and a blister was REALLY starting to bother me. I stopped to try to sort out my shoes, but couldn’t do much. Then my head started to hurt. My crotch was stinging. My back hurt. I was hungry. My stomach ached. And I felt like vomiting. I texted Jimmy and he came to meet me at about 14 miles and looked really concerned. I retched and he jumped back expecting me to throw up, luckily I didn’t. He kept me company back to base camp where I got some water and had something to eat. A toilet stop and some more walking and finally at about 16 miles, I felt good enough to start running again, although my blister was making it difficult. I ended up following a quarter mile run, followed by quarter mile walk tactic for a while, which actually led to me covering ground at a reasonable pace. However, once we reached the turn around back into the wind (and I should stress, it wasn’t really that bad, it was just enough to make you feel tired and I was VERY tired), I felt done in again.
I resigned myself to walking most of the rest and crossed the line in a disappointing 5:48. That said, I’m pleased to finish as I wasn’t going anywhere without my awesome medal and I’ve got to say a big thank you to all the lovely runners who gave me a thumbs up or encouragement on course, especially the lovely lady with the striped leg warmers who gave me a hug, Davy for the hug at the end and Rachel for the loan of her gloves – it was one cold morning!
So there you go, a car crash summary on the worst marathon preparation ever! And for those who care, yes my crotch was caked in blood and my toes boasted some interesting blisters.
However on the plus side, I got an awesome goody bag, a roast dinner and a bottle-opener medal. Plus I felt surprisingly not broken the next day. Good enough to run in fact. Aside from all the chafing and blisters, that is.
So when’s the next one?!
Thanks to Traviss, Rachel and all your crew for another awesome event! As I said…it’s like parkrun, but for lunatics.
PS – The medal is a great bottle opener!