This is my confession: I cheat at marathons.
I just don’t have the stamina to run them like everyone else. Of the ten I’d ran before last Sunday’s marathon at York, only five I could class as a success. The other five I’d shown that I don’t have the energy to run a long time over a distance which killed the first person who ran it. Anyone who can run the marathon in over 4 hours earns my sincere respect; I to this day still haven’t shown I could keep going for that long. Thus, the only way I can run a marathon is to get it over with as quickly as possible – a candle burning brightly for half as long – or risk burning out to a stop. This was my concern when pacing my wife at York; that despite running at a slower pace, fatigue would eventually creep in and the marathon would beat me again.
Yorkshire: home of puddings, terriers, Emmerdale, and now a fun marathon!
Following a good night’s sleep at a hotel at a perfect mile-warm-up distance from the start line (props to Andy Yu for the recommendation), I was greeted by a near-torrential downpour of rain that wouldn’t let up for the whole day. With this start, it is how the run will always be remembered!
As is my habit (much like Doc Brown) I had packed prepared for all eventualities. But, I can’t pack what I don’t have; a cap, arm sleeves and calf sleeves I now realise I need to buy for my arsenal. My t-shirt and bandana would have to suffice for extras.
My wife and I arrived at the event just in time to hear a shout-out to us over the tannoy (which we were invited to request via their Facebook page), giving that little extra motivation for the start. Despite my apprehension over whether or not I could go the distance without breaking, I had a calm within me akin to last winter’s Holme Pierrepont marathon, aiming to treat this as just another long run.
One thing I hadn’t really appreciated about usually starting right at the front was the relative freedom from the pack; it took about 4 minutes for the crowd we were in to actually cross the start line, and most of the entire run was spent dodging people.
Nonetheless, we were in high spirits and enjoyed the outing. At this juncture, I have to give high praise to the spectators, volunteers, marshals and emergency crew who stayed out in the pouring rain all day for something that doesn’t benefit them directly, but just in support of those giving it their all. Thank you.
Our target pace was 8:30 min/mile, and with a slight downhill start while full of enthusiasm, we were regularly on the faster side of that, needing to forcibly slow down. However, a hill at the 10 mile mark (decorated with a sign, “Come on Mardy Bum, it’s only a hill!”) helped us to take it easy. I tackled it easy enough, but I would have hated to face it at my usual speed!
A gradual downhill greeted us for the following four miles, giving opportunity to recoup energy and time. Another runner jogged up beside me, and like Goku sensing my hidden power asked, “what kind of time do you really run a marathon in?” I highlighted that I hadn’t really trained to run it faster, and wished him the best for his run. Still, I felt happy there must have been something about my form which gave me away!
Unfortunately, my wife began to tire and despite my best efforts to encourage her, she insisted I leave her behind so I could check out of the hotel in time. Yes, I ditched my exhausted wife at 21 miles in the rain, oh the shame!
Free to kick it into gear, I felt euphoria as I ran at a speed I was comfortable with. The thought, this is what I was born to do, was emblazoned on the forefront of my mind. Sailing past everyone, my pace crept faster and faster for the remaining five miles and I never felt better!
With random joyous posing on the finishing straight, there was one final detail to take care of; my kick. Spotting a runner that dared an attempt to finish ahead of me, I pipped him at the post with less than a second between us. I just couldn’t help myself!
Yorkshire marathon is one of the best organised races I’ve ran, and taking my time with it helped me appreciate it that little bit more. Sufficient water stations (though given the rain, perhaps they weren’t needed!), a good number of portaloos on the course (though admittedly, I don’t think there were enough at the start), and is a relatively flat course with just two sharp hills at 10 and 24 miles, with great support. The goodie bag was average, the usual protein bar and bird seed nuts present. Still, a nice Indian takeout later from Chutney Express hit the spot.
I’d run it again, just a shame about the weather!
As for my wife, she achieved a PB of 9 minutes! Way to go!
Now, I have 6 months until my next marathon. 26 weeks to train for 26 miles anew. I feel a new eagerness for it, and will start to work on a training plan for the whole period, bringing myself beyond what I was capable of before. Paris Marathon, I’m coming for you!
If you’re so interested, my other runs in the week leading up to the marathon:
Wednesday – Intervals: 10x(200m sprints + 200m recovery)
Worked on my form more, in particular the swinging of my arms for propulsion.
Friday – 4 miles
A soggy jog, the sign of things to come…