The decision to do a marathon wasn’t difficult for me. Once I started running, it seemed like a natural progression.
The evening after my first 5km race, I entered a 10km. The evening of my first 10km I entered a half marathon. I looked at various race calendars and thought that I should run a marathon. I decided that it should be before the end of May 2016, mainly because my first ever run was on June 1st 2015 and I’d be able to say that is done it all in less than 12 months. Beginner to marathon runner in a year.
But, alas, that is not to be. Curse you, left knee. So I’ve been training away ready for the Half Marathon at Milton Keynes.
For my last long, slow run I decided to do something different. It was a fabulously sunny day so I thought I’d get my husband to drop me off in Northampton, about 10 miles away and I’d run home. He dropped me at The Racecourse which is the home of Northampton Parkrun.
It’s a nice straight run, a few hills and paved all the way. I ran all of it, walking only a very steep hill near Earls Barton which was about 6 miles in to the run. It took me 1:55 which I was really pleased with. I wasn’t tired, aching or in any pain. I was so happy. After weeks of injury I thought I’d finally got to where I needed to be.
On Monday I got my kit already and headed to MK Dons Stadium. It’s not too far away so my husband came over to support me. It’s the first race he’s been to and his pre race motivational chat leaves a lot to be desired. “Is your knee definitely ok?” “Yes” “what time will you finish?” “By 12:30 hopefully” “Is it too hot today?” “Yes.” etc.
I started at the back, just behind the 5 hour marathon pacer. The marathon and half marathon ran together for the first seven miles. My plan was to stay with the 4:45 or 5 hour pacer until that point, as I was aiming for a somewhere between 2:15 and 2:30 half marathon. I knew it was mostly flat or downhill on the second half so was aiming to make up some time there.
The pacers were wearing orange balloons with the times written on in marker pen. I thought this was very amateurish. From a distance you could see the balloon but not the time. It made it very hard, especially at the start to know who to follow.
You can see one of the balloon at the start. I couldn’t get close enough to see the time without getting really close.
I was in the green starting area, the slowest obviously. I started well and didn’t mind the gradual incline of the first two miles. I passed Mary and Laura who were chatting away, looking totally relaxed. We said a brief hello and carried on to the horrid incline around the city centre.
I have driven these roads hundreds of times and would honestly have sworn they were flat. Apparently not. As soon as I hit the steep uphill my knee objected. It was really painful and the movement felt quite restricted. New plan required. It was either stop, or walk the inclines. My body chose the latter, but my spirit chose the former.
I ran most of it until about halfway. I just couldn’t be bothered by then. I was really hot and unprepared for the weather. I knew it was hot but I’m really inexperienced in warmer weather running. The most distance I’d ever done in warm weather was 5km. I didn’t take any fluids with me and was relying on the water stations which was a big mistake. My knee was ridiculously painful by then too.
From the half way to 9 miles I adopted a walk/run technique which meant that is basically failed. I wasn’t going on get 2:15 and 2:30 was probably out of the question too. Then I got chatting to a lady who was suffering we her knee too. She was really upset and crying and couldn’t just run past her. We walk/ran together for a bit longer until she couldn’t run anymore. She wanted to complete in under 2:30 as well. We realised at 10 miles that we’d need to do 10 minute miles for the 2:30 and we only had one decent pair of knees between us. We said we’d stay together until the end walking and running. We walked the whole of mile 12 but ran for most of the last mile, it was downhill and into the MK Dons stadium. It really hurt my knee but it had to be done.
My husband took these photos just before the finish line.
I was really pleased that we both made it over together. Runners have such a nice little community and I feel proud to think that I’d helped someone. I may have sacrificed a few minutes from my time but in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t matter.
Despite my injury my chip time was 2:45:09. Hopefully by my next half marathon (Great North Run) I will be injury free and will get the sub 2:30!
I saw Laura and Mary enter the stadium just as I was leaving, and we had another quick hello!
My next race is the Great Newham 10km in July. I was hoping to do the Vitality London 10km, but I got the entry cut off confused with the VLM 2017 deadline and missed my chance to enter.
With no long training runs to do for a while I will be focussing on speed work, once my knee is sorted.