I woke up at about 5 o’clock, if not earlier, on Sunday morning raring to go and run my first full official Marathon. The reason I put “official” in there was because I began my “taper” in what could be considered a bizarre way, by running 26.3 miles. I did this for work because we ran a 22 miler, which I paced and decided to run between groups to ensure everyone was happy and on the right path.
In the week following the 26.3 miler I ran a further 46 odd miles mainly for work and to explore a bit on my day off. The second week of tapering was interesting aswell. On the Friday I came down with some sort of bug/illness that left me lightheaded for the majority of the 10 days leading up to the race. Not ideal preparation for your first marathon really, but there was no way I was not going to run the race.
On race day in the morning I just chilled out for a couple hours listening to some music and things, and yes it was drum & bass for those of you that know my epic taste in music. Fred V & Grafix – Recognise was the album of choice on this occasion.
Due to still feeling a little light headed I decided to not have much for breakfast. Nutrition is something that I will look into massively in the next few weeks or so and I’m sure I should have eaten more the couple of days before the race but this is something I will learn. Still eager to get running I left the hotel at about 7.30 and got to the race village and Stadium with plenty of time before the start of the race.
Not a bad start and finish point for a Marathon (especially considering I’m a Manchester United fan, of which people would question.)
Obligatory HUGE inflatable Asics trainer! (Note: the children of Manchester are more safety conscious when it comes to large trainers than Reading. Or they just weren’t awake yet!)
So after chilling, pretty much literally, around Old Trafford the race finally crept up on us. There I was stood staring at this
thinking, I’ve got 26.2 miles to do now… Hmm! Once I got going I felt reasonably good, well atleast much better than compared to doing 10 of the 13 miles the Sunday before and the 5 miles I did in midweek. This however probably turned into my downfall, I went off feeling reasonably strong but then soon found out around the 20 mile mark how marathons can teach you a lesson. I started pacing the run as if I was going to go near 3 if not sub 3 not taking into account my poor taper and not great nutrition. Therefore, I’m not sure I hit the wall, but I wasn’t moving as quickly as I had started that’s for sure.
All I can say is, I am so pleased I had my name on my number/t-shirt! There were 3 key points in this race where I was lagging so much and had doubts over whether I was going to finish at all. All of these moments occurred between 20 and 26.2 miles. The first was when I was slowing and a guy just ran past me and he said “if I can do this, you can!!” He said it with such conviction, probably knowing that it was my first marathon and that I needed those words. He was right!
The second moment was around 22/23 miles, it was all a blur really, but I found myself having to walk a few steps to compose myself a bit and as I was walking a little boy shouted “Go on Stephen! You can do it!” I couldn’t help but smile and get going again, what a legend that little kid was. I hope he does a marathon one day and he has someone there in the right place at the right time to cheer him on!
The third moment was quite an emotional one. There was an older gentleman on the side of the road, again I was lagging, but he said in such a caring way “go on lad, only a mile or so to go!” For some reason this really got to me and I ran from here on in. Being an older gentleman I think it reminded me of my Grampy, who is seriously ill at the moment, and I thought how hard he has worked throughout his whole life and I can’t work hard for this last mile or so. Well I did and that, my first marathon, was for you Gran & Gramps Skinner.
As you can see I was pretty tired after the marathon and I’m not going to lie that was the most uncomfortable train journey ever. Yes, I had to get up on the train and do some stretching and yes I looked like a muppet. A muppet that didn’t get cramp!
This medal is a special one for me. It’s not just metal, it tells me I can run 26.2 miles. I’m looking forward to the next marathon but between now and then I have the Bupa 10k in London and a few other things lined up. This is how I’ve justified buying these bad boys:
I am looking forward to putting in some speed work once my legs feel like working completely again.
I have enjoyed reading all your tweets etc over the last few days about your racing and would like to say well done to everyone that has completed a marathon or other races in the last few days. I would also like to say a huge thank you to everyone that has messaged me in some form wishing me good luck or saying well done over the last few days I really appreciate it!!
Sorry for the long post!
Now get running!!
P.s. I finished it in 3:28:01, sub 3:28 next time!