Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Chester Marathon & Lovely Things...

The weekend was absolutely amazingly lovely. The end (only joking). Not joking about the amazingly lovely bit... :)

I’ve been looking forward to October for ages, not only because all the best people are born in October... ahem :-p but also because lovely George had entered me into Chester Marathon and we are also going to Canada tomorrow and then when we get back from Canada it’s my birthday. So, it’s just all so exciting at the moment.

I’ve not been on a plane for years, so I’m pretty excited – I really like the buzz of airports & planes. I’m easily pleased. I’m finally packed, although I’ve probably forgotten something. At least I know I have packed my running kit, which I’m going to need as we’re doing the Vulture Bait 50k in Ontario next weekend.

Anyway, here’s a little ramble about Chester Marathon:

Chester is my home marathon and it was two years to the day since I had done my 100th marathon there at Chester. I’d not done a race for ages and it had been even longer since I’d done a city marathon with support and goodie bags and things.

We got to the start in loads of time and I really liked the layout of everything. Top marks for porta-loos. I don’t think I have ever seen so many portable loo’s lined up like that before. There were thousands of people everywhere, so they were obviously definitely needed, but it was still good to see top notch organisation like that. The baggage drop-off points were really well organised also, as was the little ‘race village’.

I got to see some of the usual suspects, but there were so many people everywhere that I didn’t get to see as many as I would have liked to.

Me and George had decided to run this one together and cross the line holding hands, awww (bleeeurggh ;-) ). However, he is a lot faster than I am. But, having done a lot of ultras lately he assured me that he wanted to take it a little easier. We positioned ourselves – well, I positioned ourselves - near the 4.30 pace marker. I started my Garmin as soon as the gun went off, as I find it gives you a cheeky little psychological ‘advantage’ when you look at your watch later on in the race and give you a few minutes to play with. Well, it makes some sort of weird sense to me. So, we were off and started to run from the race course, running into the city and skirting round past Chester Cathedral and lots of familiar places for me. Passing under the clock and past some of my favourite pubs, we now headed out of the city.

I felt pretty knackered for a little while if I’m honest. We had been to the zoo the day before and had a few carb loading drinks in Liverpool on Friday night and I didn’t sleep much in the week from all the anticipation of actually doing fun things and a marathon again. I had decided in advance not to look at the pace on my Garmin, so I changed the screen. I’d look at it towards the end of the race to make sure I wasn’t going too slooowwly, but other than that, I didn’t want to be a slave to my Garmin. 

We started at 4.30 marathon pace and to my delight; we had caught up with 4.15 marathon pacers by 8miles in. I was running well until about 15 miles in and we even managed to outrun the 4.15 pacers, yey. However, I hadn’t anticipated the weather being so nice. Okay, it’s not Spain or something, but it felt so warm out there. My body was so warm, but I was so sweaty that my arms started to go cold and then I just felt disorientated a bit and I decided to break my run for the first time in 15miles and run/ walk for a bit. I was so thirsty and I made the most of the drinks stations. I was even pouring water down my back and on my head, which I never do. I just felt so overheated somehow.  The race was sponsored by Lucozade and prior to the start, I had been hesitant at the prospect of taking any Lucozade gels or drinks as I used to find that they were horrible and sickly. Yet, on seeing all the swanky new packaging and really in need of an energy boost, I gave in. I’m glad I did. The orange Luzcozade drink on offer was really rather tasty. It just tasted like a really nice orange juice and it definitely helped perk me up a bit when I was really in a bit of a lull.

Once out of the city, the majority of the race was run on lovely scenic country roads, passing through idyllic villages. There was so much lovely local support out there, which was really nice to see. Maybe it’s because we ran near Farndon, where I ran one of my first ever races and one of only two 10k races that I have done (I hate running 10k races), but I started to get a little ‘bored’ with the country roads. I wanted some sights and city-ness. I kind of needed some distractions to take my mind off my limp and energy-less self.

At around Mile 23, I perked up again and pulled myself together. We were still on pace for a 4.30 marathon time, but I was definitely holding George back, who was running much better than me. In the last few miles, I saw a couple of runners receiving medical attention. One lady had an oxygen mask over her face and was being stretched out by paramedics on the pavement and one man looked like he had collapsed. It’s always startling to see these things, because I’m not used to seeing it at the usual, smaller scale events that I do.
With two miles to go, I was in a good frame of mind again. I love the ending of this race and I love running past the river and ultimately, back onto the race course. Approaching the race course was actually quite emotional. There were so many people and so much support! The sprint was on and me and George crossed the line hand in hand, whilst the commentator over the speakers was like ‘And here come two runners, hand in hand’ – made me chuckle.

The medal and finishing area was so well organised also. There was no confusion and so much friendliness from the marshals. They were shaking people’s hands and congratulating them and I just thought it was a really nice touch. Goodie bags were given out efficiently and I got my long sleeved technical t-shirt no problem. Sorted. And then we found a spot of the grass and decided to have a little lie down.... Ahhh.
All in all, I had such a lovely day. And then we proceeded to find a pub and seek out Guinness.

So, there we go, a bit of a rushed blog there, but I have to go get my train now and then my bus to London town. There are likely lots of spelling mistakes in this too...

Oh, and we finished in 4:25:46 – This is the fastest time I’ve done in so long and now I know I can run faster than this again on a better day. Pretty emotional after being so slow for so long...even if I did used to be a consistent 4hr something marathon runner...but, slowly, I’m clawing back the speed :)

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