On the 25th of October I took part in the first Bristol+Bath Marathon. I signed up to this race almost as soon as I heard about it. The main reasons being that I lived in Bristol for a year and a bit and have visited Bath a few times because my sister lives between the two cities. Oh yeh that was another reason, accommodation was sorted, thanks Sar! Also having done the Bristol Half in 2012 & 2013 and the 10k earlier this year I knew the route would be scenic and the crowds would be rowdy, I was not let down.
I knew I was doing the race for ages but for some reason it just kind of crept up on me. Even on Friday night when I was out for a friends birthday drinks Lorna reminded me I had a marathon coming up, I kept forgetting (the drinks may have played a part in that ha). I guess because I hadn’t set a target time and because I’m in the best shape I’ve been in I felt really relaxed knowing it would be fun. The morning of the race arrived and I couldn’t wait to get going.
We (me, my mum and sister) headed to the race village pretty early. We had time to have a quick chat with Laura & Gabi, who run with Advent Running, and wish them good luck. I then bumped into Theo (an ex Waitrose colleague) and caught up quickly, he went on to do 3:20 in just his second marathon, well in mate!
Me and my sister Sar
After dropping my bag I limbered up and headed to the start line. When I first started running I used to get quite nervous before races. After doing a fair few in the last couple years I would say I now get more excited and enjoy the fact I don’t know how I’m going to feel in the race or what i’m capable of, you kind of have to embrace that uncertainty a bit. Having done some minor course research I knew there were hills around half way and near mile 21. I decided somewhere around 7:15 min/mile would roughly be a sustainable pace due to the hills. The first part of the race heads west out of Bristol under the Clifton Suspension Bridge. The weather was perfect, nice and cool and the sun was shining. In the first few miles I ran with random people and chatted about their running, I find you soon tick off a few miles when you’re chatting away. It felt a little strange running quite a few miles west to then turn back but once I made the turn I was happy knowing I was heading to Bath. Luckily it wasn’t windy under and near the Clifton Suspension bridge, I remember doing the half in 2013 and feeling horrendous (probably due to pacing and food aswell). Heading out of Bristol the crowds were great, it definitely helped having family there. I knew every couple of miles I would either be taking a gel or seeing family and these were great little boosts.
I went through the halfway point of the race feeling really good, I was enjoying the scenic and undulating course. It was good that there were always plenty of runners around to follow and chat to every now and then. Around all the pubs on the roadside there were great crowds willing everyone on. I carried on around 7:15 pace and was surprised and pleased how good I felt, I guess because I only did track and a few short runs in the week I was well rested. I was around mile 20 and a runner started chatting to me about the hills coming up. He let me know they were long and relatively steep, it was good to know but at the end of the day you’ve just got get your head down, pull your socks up and take one step at a time. Because I was feeling good I took the approach of “the sooner I’m up this hill the quicker I’m running downhill or on flat road”. I definitely think doing the Isle of Wight Fell series with the Viccy Park Harriers and running the a Seven Sisters with work (Run Fast/The Running Work) has helped my speed and strength massively.
After managing the climbs there were some nice downhill and flat sections. I was starting to get pumped up for the finish through Bath. I reached mile 24 and I decided to have some fun (I have a strange concept of fun). I decided to not worry about my pace but see how many runners I could overtake in the last two miles. I do this a lot when I’m running, as I’m sure everyone else does. I end up racing other runners, sometimes cyclists, buses, swans etc etc. Where was I? Oh yeh two miles from the Bath finale. Flicking the switch from relaxed and comfortable mode (could be described as sexy pacing haha) to race mode was fun, I managed to overtake 40 runners and finish with a 5:55 last mile. My mum and sister were just before the finishing straight, it was so nice to have them there. I was buzzing when I crossed the line, the crowds on the streets of Bath were epic. I had finished my fifth marathon in 3:11:28 in 113th. Once I finished I joined my mum and sister to cheer people on. It was great to see friends finish, especially Gabi finishing her first marathon in prep for London next year. Well done to Theo, Helen, Laura, Natasha, Jen, for great runs too. Great race, great medal
I answered a few questions about the Bristol+Bath Marathon for the allrounder mag, you can find them here: http://www.theallrounder.co.uk/bristol-bath-marathon/
I have to say a massive thanks to my mum and sister for the support. I’ll be there supporting when you’re ready for a 10k, half or marathon Sar. Also thanks everyone for the good luck and well done messages, appreciate it.
See a lot of you soon