This is my home marathon. It’s one of my favourite and least favourite marathons all rolled into one!
Why is it a favourite… well, it is local, it starts late. What other marathon can I stay in bed until 8am and then get up and casually get ready. Also, imagine a marathon where people you know continually pop up around the whole course, supporting and marshaling. A good example this year, was suffering a little bit on the back of the course, was between drink stops and needed water. There parked in a layby in the middle of nowhere was the hubby of a club mate “Alright Glen, you want some water?” – Perfect, thanks Deano! Throughout the course supporters would pop up, club mates would pop up cheering and offering sweets, it would really be a jolly day if it wasn’t for those 26.2 miles.
Now, the least favourite part. The course is varied and interesting, but is a bit of a pig. My Strava showed 1,500ft of climb, and what makes it worse, is that three of the more significant inclines are all queued up and waiting for you at the end of the run. Three decent hills, starting from 22 miles in, and the last one lasting for the whole of mile 24!
This was the third time I’ve run this course, and it does have a special place for me as it was my first marathon back in 2015. This year though it was extra special for personal reasons. Whilst I have been doing this marathon challenge, my Nan at the ripe old age of 96, has been having a tough time of it. My marathons have become a little tradition for us. She knows when I’m running one, and the next day I usually hobble in to visit her, show her the medal and tell her all about it. For this marathon though, she was able to attend, and give me the medal at the end. It was very special 🙂
I’m not usually an emotional type, but I did find the thought that she was there waiting for me to finish today, really did push me on a few times when I was struggling. I really felt in the zone for today’s run. Whether it was just a good day and everything clicked, or whether my Nan was a factor I don’t know.
I kicked off the run in usual sensible fashion, running the first mile in 7:55! Calmed down to a regular pace, and with some hills thrown in, passed halfway in 2 hours exactly. I was looking for a time today under 4:30, hoping for 4:15. I’d even written 9:43 on my arm, to remind me what the average pace per mile would be to hit 4:15 once my brain was mush and I coudn’t think straight.
The second half went well, and where I was expecting to really suffer, I found that I was regularly finding runners on the second half to try and catch up and get past.
Then came those 3 lovely hills. On each I did a little bit of run / walking. Running up long hills at the end of a marathon I know sends my heart rate stratospheric. The run / walking I found didn’t hurt my pace too much, I guess the running was quicker than if I’d just carried on stubbornly plodding.
Got to the top of the last hill, and knew that with a decent last mile I was under the 4:15, so pushed on finishing in 4:11:50, better than I thought was possible.
Finished with a gathering of family there to watch, including Nan, and of course with a good collection of Isle of Wight Road Runners who had now returned to base.
All in all a fantastic day, one of my favourites so far for the year 🙂