Marathons in the beginning of the year are few and far between, I managed to find a race in January but then was ill and couldn’t make it. Being limited to where I can get by public transport I had to wait for my first marathon of the year to be in February. The event of choice was the Jaw Dropper (Phoenix Running), a 6 hour timed event by the Thames. For a marathon I had to do 8 laps, 5km-ish each.

And so it happened that it was exactly 2 months after my last one. It almost sounds silly that 2 months without a marathon can seem like a very long time, but it does.

 

Nevertheless I felt very well rested and eager to go!

I suffer from a breathing condition (I will make a separate post about this one day) that sometimes makes my breathing go out of whack, I find that running long distance helps and makes me feel better. With two months without long runs I was feeling breathless and generally unwell, I really couldn’t wait.

Pizza the night before was an unusual but welcome experience – I usually go for a pizza after a run 🙂

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To add to the excitement Tara was coming to run the race with me. ‘It’s going to be so much fun’ I thought!

Tara came on Friday and we spent the evening catching up.

We stayed up too late, which seems to be a standard thing to do 😉 Fortunately the race wasn’t that far from me and with Tara driving it was practically around the corner 😀

We got up and got ready and set out on our travels to Walton-on-Thames, the morning was a bit murky but we didn’t mind.

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As a coordination exercise we wore matching outfits. Tara won hers from WSR and I got mine for Christmas from Jamie’s parents.

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The outfits are from Up and Running shop in Bournemouth and I have to say, they offer outstanding customer service! If you ever find yourself sad and lonely, call them, they are awesome!

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It was so nice to see so many familiar and friendly faces and some fellow Fitstuffers (John 🙂 ).

I introduced Tara to people I know and soon it was time to go and do some running.

I was so nervously excited and so pleased that I would finally be running along way, having spent most of the past 2 months doing a lot of walking and short runs.

I was also very jealous of all the shark outfits!

 

Rik gave us the signal to start and we began running in the familiar direction by the river. The start was a bit crowded on the narrow path but the it soon got wider and the crowd spread, with the faster runners going ahead.

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We went past the rowing club, a couple of pubs and over the little bridge. After a few kilometres my breathing settled and I was feeling wonderful! It is such an amazing feeling: to be able to take a satisfying breath, I was almost bouncing with excitement.

We went under the big bridge and before we knew it, we could see Dee at the turn-around point.

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I accidentally left my gloves on the table at the aid station and I was worried that it’d be a tough and cold lap (it was February!) but my hands warmed up by the time we were on our way back.

We got back to the aid station and refuelled:

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“So long and thanks for all the fish”, off we went on another lap.

 

We were running at a steady pace and I was eager to go faster – this is normal for me in the beginning of the race, I find it quite difficult to pace my running, let alone to pace my excitement. Tara commented that we were running too fast, so I tried to slow down. Deep inside however, I was hoping for my first marathon of 2017 to be a PB.

 

Things started going downhill from there. Tara and I were clearly on very different pages that day…

She has done so much running and this was yet another race to complete. She wanted to put her head down, go through it and come out alive on the other side.

I on the other hand, with my fresh and rested legs, was like an enthusiastic puppy, excited with anything and everything.

 

Despite getting through 4 laps together we weren’t actually getting anywhere. Eventually we decided to split and run our own races that day and it was the best decision that we made that day.

 

I went ahead and tried desperately to chase my time. It was tough. When you have never run for time, but one day you realise that you are getting used to this whole marathon thing and slowly becoming faster (see what I did there?) then why not go for it and see what you can do. I was feeling so incredibly well that day and I really wanted to know how this will impact my time. I was feeling strong but it was hard nevertheless.

I only had two laps to go and I knew that I wouldn’t make it in 4h 30min, but I still wanted to beat by best marathon time so far (04:44:NobodyEverRemembersTheSecondsAnyway). The sun came out and it got warmer, I was running on my own but still meeting many familiar faces. “Keep going”, I was telling myself, “This is the 10km countdown, it’s not far now”.

John, already completed the marathon and carried on doing an ultra-distance looking incredibly strong, how he does it I don’t know, practice I guess 😉

I met Costas and Julia on the little bridge that was now a small mountain. I was stretching my calves hanging my tired body off the railings and when Costas asked me not to jump, his joke just gave me enough strength to go on.

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One lap to go, not long now. I was happy, the last lap is the ‘party lap’, ‘practically there lap’, and most importantly ‘you can stop very soon’ lap 🙂

 

On my way back I met Brenda and she shouted ‘You are flying today girl, go for it!’ and that was it! That did it! It was hard but these words of encouragement pushed me so much.

I got to the finish line and Rik announced my time which was 2 min faster than my PB. I nearly cried. I really put all I had in the last few laps not knowing if I was able to make it. Thank you Brenda!

 

Tara finished soon after and we posed for some pictures in our matching leggings.

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I have to say it was really impressive hanging around the finish line seeing Rik welcoming runners back. I have no idea how he does it, but he remembers everyone’s name, even the new people and it makes all the difference.

20170218_142754.jpg Here’s Tara, Danny-the-Legend and me:

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Thank you for yet another great event.

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