Sunday, 28 February 2016

A Marathon Journey

Having made the decision to finally "retire" from competitive marathon running following my run in the Phoenix Marathon at the weekend, I have spent the past couple of days reflecting on my marathon career whilst I've sat at home with my feet up, recovering from the race whilst both Wilson and Brandy have been curled up next to me on the sofa. 

Looking back, I still can't believe that I ran my first marathon 20 years ago as a very young and naive 23 year old "unattached" runner. I also can't believe that I had actually miscounted the number of pure marathons I had taken part in - I thought I had successfully stopped at the nice round number of 30 (discounting ultras), but in fact, I have completed 35 - how the hell did that happen? Had I known, I might have given up earlier - now I'm a little concerned that with my OCD for things being neat and tidy, I might get the urge to make it a nice, neat, round number - but let's not go down that road...yet!

With so many marathons under my belt, I really can't remember all of them in any great detail although some of them stick in my mind as memorable ocassions for very different reasons. I know folks are probably bored to death of me harping on about marathons by now, but up until recently, the marathon has always been my favourite distance and I have felt confident every time I've lined up on that start line. Besides, with Andy working away and with me having a couple of days rest, I have nothing better to do at the moment other than taking a look back at each and every marathon I have ever done, and to try to recall what I can about the event at the time.

If you'd like to take a look back with me, feel free to read on - if not but you know me personally, thank you for all your support and encouragement if you have been there at any point during my marathon journey over the past 2 decades. 

Marathon Number 1 - Potteries Marathon - June 1996

Finishing Time : 3.46.59    Position : 11th Lady

The Potteries Marathon was my local race back in the 1990's, and having being a spectator every year since I was a child, I was now old enough to take part myself. I'd taken a few years out from running due to college and work, but 1996 was the year that the Britannia Building Society was sponsoring the marathon. At the time, I was working for the Britannia and thought it would be fun to take part.  I was no longer a member of a running club, so I did all my prep under my own steam.

"The Potts" is renowned for being extremely hilly, and being held in June, it was always held on a very warm day. 1996 was no different, and having started well and lying in 3rd place in the ladies race at Bentilee, my inexperience and lack of training (2 x 16 mile runs and a few 8 milers in the 2 months leading up to the race!!) meant that by Carmountside, I was already suffering, and by the time I reached Thistleberry, I was ready to collapse. 

The only thing that kept me going was what somebody at work had said to me. He'd done The Potts the year before and had finished in around 4.15. He too said that it's a really tough run and he doubted that I would get under 4 hours - wrong thing to say to a stubborn red head! I finished in just under 3 hours 47 minutes in much pain but with a huge smile on my face. My marathon addiction had started :-)

Marathon Number 2 - Potteries Marathon - June 1997

Finishing Time: 3.59.17 Position : 37th Lady

Another hot year at The Potts. I'd done absolutely no training for it this particular year and only decided to do the race on the Friday evening - just 2 days before the race. I've since learnt that this is NOT the way to run a good marathon :-)

Marathon Number 3 - Potteries Marathon - June 1999

Finishing Time: 3.40.19  Position: 16th Lady

I have no recollection of this particular day, but it looks like I'd maybe started to take things a little more seriously, running some 7 minutes quicker than my previous course best. I do remember that I'd decided to raise some money for charity this time, and ran to support the Sail Training Association - a charity that sends young people on sailing trips aroubd the globe where they work as a crew member on a tall ship. I'd actually been on one of these "cruises" a few years earlier so I wanted to give something back to them.

Marathon Number 4 - London Marathon - April 2000

Finishing Time: 3.35.42  Position : 428th Lady

I'd always dreamt of running in the London Marathon, and on a whim, I carelessly entered the ballot, not believing for a second that I would get in. October came, and I'd been given a place - whoo hoo!

Running in the Capital was simply AMAZING! I started with "the masses" on the red start, and I remember it taking around 10 minutes to cross the start line. In those days, I was really enjoying marathons by now and was caught up in the whole atmosphere - I LOVED it! I was still an unattached runner so all my training was done without any input from anybody else. I knocked another 5 minutes off my PB and I was ecstatic! I had also decided to once again raise some money for charity and donated to the RSPCA.

Marathon Number 5 - Potteries Marathon - June 2000

Finishing Time: 3.56.39  Position:  9th Lady

Being on a high after London, I made the decision to run another marathon in the summer and not surprisingly it was once again The Potts. This was the year that was scorching hot and people were dropping like flies as the temperature climbed into the 80's. I remember running through Burslem and feeling a pain in my chest and wondering if I was about to have a heart attack! Luckily it was just indigestion and like everybody else, my time was slower than previous races simply due to the weather conditions.

Marathon Number 6 - Snowdonia Marathon - October 2000

Finishing Time: 3.52.21  Positon: 17th Lady

The Snowdonia Marathon - still one of my favourites! It's another tough one with lots of climbing, but is one of the most scenic marathons I've done.

This was my third marathon of the year - clearly by now I was hooked!

The weekend of the 2000 Snowdownia Marathon was extremely memorable as the whole of the UK was hit by howling winds and torrential rain. We had opted to camp at Nant Peris and on race day, we awoke to an inch of water in the tent and a flooded field. The race still went ahead and I remember being thrown all over the place by the crazy  windy weather, yet loving every minute of it! 

Driving home after the race, all the roads out of North Wales were flooded and if they weren't flooded, fallen trees were blocking the roads. What should have been an hour or two drive turned into a 5 hour journey home but we eventually arrived safely - and my slate coaster was safe :-)

Marathon Number 7 - London Marathon - April 2001

Finishing Time: 3.31.43   Position: 336 Lady

The atmosphere of the London Marathon the previous year prompted me to enter again, but this time I had a guaranteed place thanks to achieving a "Good for Age" Standard. I started on the red start but much further forward than the previous year, and the atmosphere was again amazing. Despite the crowds, I ran yet another PB.

Marathon Number 8 - Potteries Marathon - June 2001

Finishing Time : 3.29.55  Position: 7th Lady

The Potteries Marathon was now becoming an annual tradition for me as I was keen to support a local race. Being hilly, I never anticipated that I would run yet another PB so soon after London a couple of months earlier, but I did, and I broke  the magical 3.30 mark .... just!

Marathon Number 9 - Potteries Marathon - June 2002

Finishing Time: 3.37.09  Position: 7th lady

Another hot year and times were once again down, but I was still very happy to be out there pounding the streets of Stoke :-) The crowd support from the folks of Stoke would rival any major big city marathon elsewhere in the world.

Marathon Number 10 - London Marathon - April 2003

Finishing Time: 3.25.07   Position: 270th Lady

Another "Good for Age" guaranteed entry, and another PB :-) I was loving the marathon and felt confident every time I toed the start line. I remember this particular year, simply because I was hoping to go sub 3.30 again and I was frantically doing the maths in my head for each mile split - it was only when I entered The Mall that I reaslised I had smashed my target time :-) I also raised some money for The Blue Cross - a UK national animal charity.

Marathon Number 11 - Potteries Marathon - June 2003

Finishing Time: 3.19.33   Position: 3rd lady

This was the last year that I did The Potts, and sadly, the following year saw the race last holding of the event as entries had dwindled and  it was no longer sustainable :-( 

I remember starting the race feeling confident after my run in London, believing that I could go sub 3.30 again despite the local hills. When I saw my finishing time, it was a very surreal moment - how could I possibly have ran yet another 5 minute PB within just 2 months, and on the Potteries Marathon course?! Even more surprising was that I finished 3rd lady and got on the podium as well as winning the silver medal in the Staffs County Marathon Championships (behind Ju Myatt at the time who had won the race). No wonder the marathon was fastò becoming my chosen distance!

Marathon Number 12 - London Marathon - April 2004

Finishing Time: 3.09.09  Position: 138th Lady

This day was another O.M.G. !! kind of day. I had completely smashed my PB yet again, going way under my target of 3.15, and raising lots of valuable funds for The Dogs Trust. I still wasn't a member of a running club but this day was the turning point where I thought that maybe I could break 3 hours one day. I needed a coach, and I needed a running club that would help me reach my full potential - I really didn't think I could improve much more on my own, and needed some guidance. 

Shortly after London in 2004, I plucked up the courage and joined Trentham Running Club and with the help and guidance from Richard O'Keeffe, and the awesome guys at Trentham, the next few years running marathons were about to become even better :-)

Marathon Number 13 - Snowdonia Marathon - October 2004

Finishing Time: 3.13.16     Position: 2nd Lady

My time at the London Marathon in April meant that I could now join the elite ladies in London the following year, and run in the English National Marathon Championships. I still hadn't got my head around the fact that I had gone sub 3.15 so I made the decision to do the Snowdonia Marathon again and if I went sub 3.15, I would send off my Championship entry.

This time around, the weather in Snowdonia was much better - a little warm, but certainly far calmer than the last time I'd done it. My training for the event this time had been much more focused thanks to Richard, and he'd kept me company on his bike whilst I did my long weekend runs around the hilly Astbury. Richard came to the race to support me, along with my family.

I can remember how strong I felt that day and I knew that I was in second place in the ladies' race until we had passed through Bedgelert and started the undulating section at the back of Snowdon. I caught up with a chap and we ran together for a short time before he told me that the leading lady was just ahead. I never imagined that I would be within striking distance of leading the Snowdonia Marathon and was a little afraid of going past and taking the lead. I didn't feel I deserved to be in that position, but the chap encouraged me on, and so i made my move. I knew the climb at Waunfawr was approaching, and the chap told me that I really needed to work up there - I was now the rabbit, and the hounds were chasing me down. Sure enough, I faltered on the climb, and with around 3 miles to go, I was passed and moved down to 2nd place. 

I finished 2nd lady, just 2 minutes behind the winner, and as I went up to collect my prize, I was still shaking my head in disbelief.

My run in the Snowdonia Marathon that year also brought me my first running club award, as I won the Best Marathon Performance Trophy at Trentham - thank you guys :-) It also gave me the confidence to enter the Championship race in London the following year - the joy of marathon running was now in full swing!

Marathon 14 - London Marathon - April 2005

Finishing Time: 2.53.59    Position: 42nd Lady

The London Marathon in 2005 was my most scariest yet. I was representing a club again (Trentham) and I was there on the start line on my own, with not only the best women marathon runners in the country, but also in the world, including the amazing Paula Radcliffe - I was start struck!

Of course, as soon as the gun goes, the elite go off so fast that you only see the tops of their heads bobbing off into the distance, which left me to run my own race. And what another amazing day it was! I certainly didn't go out thinking I could run as fast as I did - sub 3 was my ultimate goal, but I would have been happy with another PB - and yet I achieved both. I ran the race a mile at a time - focused purely on getting to the next mile within a certain time - and once again, as I ran down Bird Cage Walk and turned in to The Mall, I really couldn't believe it when I saw the clock saying 2 hours 53 minutes and some seconds. I remember looking at the results afterwards and thinking, "Huh??!!!" A 15 minute personal best and 3 hours smashed easily - and I can honestly say that on the day, although I'm sure I was tired, I cannot recall feeling any negativity during the race whatsoever. 

It was the start of a string of sub 3 marathons and I was ecstatic :-D

Marathon 15- Blackpool Marathon - June 2005

Finishing time : 2.58.01   position: 1st Lady

I was brimming with confidence after London and so I went to Blackpool 2 months later hoping to run a similar time, if not quicker.

The Blackpool Marathon was dead flat with no hills whatsoever. The course in 2005 was just a single loop which headed all the way to the south to the sand dunes near Lythm St Anns, before turning around and heading all the way north, before turning around and heading back into Blackpool again. Being run along the sea front meant that gusty winds were possible, but that particular day the wind wasn't the problem, it was the heat. There was absolutely no shade, and a vast majority of the field dropped out with heat exhaustion. What made things worse is that prior to the start, all the water that had been placed at the aid stations overnight had been stolen, so the start was delayed whilst they had to ship in emergency supplies!

I really don't remember the race itself, but I know that I led from start to finish. I knew that the second lady was only 400m behind me at around the 5 mile mark, but I tried not to think about it and just concentrated on maintaining the pace. I won the ladies race and finished 4th overall - I was literally speechless but absolutely over the moon. It wasn't a PB, but I had secured my first ever win at the marathon distance - now I really did feel like a marathon runner :-)

Marathon 16 - London Marathon - April 2006

Finishing Time: 2.47.41    Position: 16th Lady

Oh my goodness! What a day THIS one was! Not only did I knock a further 6 minutes off my PB, but I was also a member of the Newcastle (Staffs) AC marathon team, which won national team gold that day.

I'd left Trentham a few months earlier as there weren't enough ladies to run the national marathon championships in London as a team, whereas Newcastle had several lady marathon runners, all of which had already met the Championship entry standard.

It was an awesome team with Michelle Buckle, Julia Myatt, Mel Young and Maxine McKinnon. I had no idea that I was going to run another PB but I do remember feeling absolutely fantastic that day, and desperate to do my best to help the team win gold. The event wasn't without incident though. At the marathon Expo, I got to meet Steve Cram and on asking for his autograph, he signed my number. Under UKA and London Marathon rules, you're not supposed to mutilate or change your number in any way, and yet mine had been defaced by Steve Cram - an ex-international GB middle distance runner! His signature caught the eye of the judges at the start who said they would have to check if it was ok otherwise I could be disqualified which of course could have a huge impact on the team result. For the next 26 miles, I ran hard but at the back of my mind was the thought that it could all be for nothing. Thankfully nothing came of it, and Newscastle were crowned English National Marathon Champions, whilst I came away with another shiny new PB :-D

Marathon 17 - Snowdonia Marathon - October 2006

Finishing Time: 3.05.53    Position: 1st Lady

By the time the Snowdonia Marathon came around in October 2006, I was starting to make an impact on the local road running scene, and had already secured several victories over 10k and half marathons. Winning Blackpool and made me realise that I really could do this, and so I went to Snowdonia hoping to win rather than just run a fast time.

I took the lead at the top of Llanberis Pass and never looked back, winning the race and fulfilling one of my marathon dreams! To win what was considered Britain's toughest marathon was amazing, and I was filled with emotion when they interviewed me afterwards. What I didn't realise is that it was going to be televised AND put on the race DVD. I'll always remember my quote, "I love the Welsh people!" much to Andy's amusement.

The solid slate trophy I won and the beautful painting still take pride of place in our home, and that is definitely one race victory I will never forget.

Marathon 18 - Lochaber Marathon - April 2007

Finishing Time: 2.53.08   Position: 1st Lady

Having done the London Marathon for the past few years in a row, in April 2007, we decided to head north to Fort William in Scotland where I had entered the Lochaber Marathon. The course was an out and back and the lady's course record at the time stood at 2 hours 50 minutes. I'd continued with my winning streak in recent months and I was placing some good times, so I went into the race hoping to break the course record which in turn would give me the win.

There were lots of things that didn't go right in the race and I'm surprised I ran as quick as I did and still won. We had travelled there with some friends, and for the whole week leading up to the race, all I had heard from them was, "you're going to win this race" over and over again, along with "gosh, you're going to be loaded when you win. Are you going to take us out and treat us all to a good meal with your winnings?" Those comments got into my head - I felt lots of pressure, and I also felt that if I won, I wouldn't be able to enjoy it because I felt like I was obliged to treat my friends!

It was a tough run mentally and having gone through half way in 1.21, I was well on course to smash the record and receive the cash bonus. I had also been leading the race from the start, but shortly after half way, I saw my friend's family whose words of encourgement were something akin to, "looks like the celebrations are on you tonight!" As soon as they were out of sight, I sat at the side of the road, emotionally exhausted and crying my eyes out. I wanted to quit just so that I didn't have the pressure of having to "treat" my friends - but at that moment, Andy came along and convinced me to get going. The second lady was a considerable distance behind me, I was still on track for the record although now it would be tight, but Andy got me going again and I grudgingly ran in to the finish, winning my third marathon and being just 3 minutes off the course record - and another sub 3 marathon in the bank. I was very happy with my win, but I did feel awkward when I was handed my £500 winnings. I guess money really does tell you who your real friends are!

Marathon 19 - London Marathon - April 2008

Finishing Time: 2.48.23  Position: 23rd Lady

In 2008, I was back running for Trentham again and earned another place in the Championship due to my times the previous year. 

I remember the day started damp and cool with a slight breeze and I was on target for another PB by a couple of minutes. But in the final few miles running along The Embankment, the wind really picked up and we were running into a head wind as the drizzly rain came down. It was hard work but I was extremely pleased to be just 40 seconds off a PB in such conditions, and it also gave me the club record at Trentham, which I believe is still waiting to be broken 8 years later.

That same evening, Andy and I were invited to the presentation gala dinner where we met all the world class elite athletes - now that was awesome!

Marathon 20 - Langdale Marathon - September 2008

Finishing Time: 3.15.46   Position: 1st Lady

Langdale was another tough marathon and consisted of 2 laps with 1:3 climbs up mountain pass on the Langdale Valley. A couple of weeks earlier, I'd had a disappointing run at the Boddington 50km so I was desperate to seek some redemption and have a good run.

It was an awesome day and because nobody knew that I had decided to do the race, I felt no pressure and just felt  like I could go out there and enjoy it. I love the Lake District and the great outdoors, we'd spent a week camping in the middle of nowhere, and I felt rested both physically and mentally, making me more prepared to race.

I secured another win in the ladies race and finishing 3rd overall - I felt like I had some of my motivation back, and I was feeling great.

Marathon 21 - Cologne Marathon - October 2009

Finishing Time: 2.55.01   Position:    5th Lady

Having turned to ultra running in 2006/2007, I wasn't running quite as many marathons and so Cologne was my first attempt at the distance in over a year. We'd been on vacation in Canada in the September and arrived back in the UK just a few days before we caught the coach to Cologne. Arriving in the German city feeling jetlagged and under trained did not instill much confidence in me, and so I really didn't know how fit I was nor what time I was capable of.

I got my sub 3...again....and as soon as I crossed the finish line, I was taken away for a random drug test! I really wasn't expecting that but thankfully the only drugs I'd taken were some  immodium and some painkillers...phew! It took me ages to find Andy afterwards. He knew I'd dipped under 3 hours but with not being given the opportunity to contact him and let him know where I was, I caught up with him some 3 hours later - to say he was a little concerned is an understatement!

Marathon 22 - Blackpool Marathon - April 2010

Finishing Time: 2.57.01   Position:  1st Lady

Back to Blackpool for 2010, and this time the course had changed again to be 2 loops rather than just one. The date had also been moved to April which meant it was now the race to do for those folks that hadn't got into London.

The thing I remember most about this race is when passing the leading lady in the half marathon on lap 1, around about the 8 mile stage. As I passed her, she increased her pace in an attempt to keep up but knowing that she wasn't actually in the same race as me, I quite innocently said, "It's ok, I'm doing the full and you're well clear." She gave me the dirtiest look and Andy informed me afterwards that it wasn't really the right thing to say when passing somebody that is doing half the distance that you are!

I got another race win that day, and another sub 3 and I have to say that that really was the most unexpected result in my marathon career. My training hadn't gone well and I'd been plagued on and off with plantar fasciitis, so I was absolutely beaming at the finish line and proud to have bagged another win for Trentham.

Marathon 23 - Galway Marathon - August 2010

Finishing Time: 3.03.48   Position:  5th Lady

The Galway Marathon wasn't really entered as a marathon - it was incorporated into the World 50km Championships in which I was competing for Great Britain/England. Because we crossed the finish line of the marathon before continuing a loop of the town for the final 5 miles of the 50k, we were given a marathon split time.

I was 5th at the marathon and 5th at the 50k having battled heavy rain and strong headwinds whilst on the roads that followed the coastline. It was a weekend of mixed emotions for me personally. The GB/England team had a world champion in the form of our amazing team mate Sue Harrison, whilst the rest of the team had placed 4th (Helen Taranowski), 5th (me!) and 6th (Karen Rushton) in the world championship 50k race. But back home in England, our 17 year old Border Collie Leo was really poorly and it was close to the time for saying bye bye to him. Andy had stayed home with him and our other old boy Sammy to take care of him, but I knew that when I got home, we would have to face the inevitable. It put a dark cloud over me for that weekend despite my attempts at focusing on a major race for the team. Sometimes our pesonal lives can have a huge impact on our running :-(

Marathon 24 - London Marathon - April 2011

Finishing Time: 3.03.00   Postion: 61st Lady

The 2011 London Marathon came just 3 weeks after the British 100km championships where I had narrowly missed out on a medal having suffered with a swollen and bruised foot for the latter half of the race. I don't think that I had fully recovered in time for London, but still went along with the hope of running another sub 3. Sadly I didn't get the sub 3, and I was bitterly disappointed. We were well aware that this time next year, we would be living in Canada and therefore this was my last chance to have a good run in London, probably for a long time.

Marathon 25 - Calgary Marathon - May 2012

Finishing Time: 3.17.53  Position:  10th Lady

I'd applied for an elite entry for the Calgary Marathon in May 2012 as I was genuinely going to aim for a time of around 2 hours 50 mins. The problem was, our move to Calgary was delayed and so I didn't arrive in the country until a month before the race which didn't help with preparation for a fast marathon.

Running the Calgary Marathon this particular year reminded me of my earlier marathon running days - no goal in mind, no expectations or pressure, just a nice early morning run with a few other people where I could just relax and enjoy it. I remember finishing with a big smile on my face - Calgary was now my home town, and so this marathon would become my annual "must do local".

Marathon 26 - Calgary Marathon - May 2013

Finishing Time: 3.06.26  Position: 6th Lady

Now I'd lived in Calgary for a full year, I was far more used to the dry air and the higher altitude. I was feeling fit for this one, and knew I was capable of anything between 3.05  and 3.10. It was another awesome day, and I was once again extremely pleased with my run, and with two belt buckles in my collection, what more could I ask for?

Marathon 27 - Edmonton Marathon - August 2013

Finishing Time: 3.06.55  Position:  2nd Lady

The Edmonton Marathon was the one where I started to believe that I could run a sub 3 marathon again. I was doing well in races across Alberta although by now most of them were trail races, but I was running decent times on the road and genuinely thought it was well within my capabilities.

I was given an elite entry for Edmonton and I went there determined to go under 3 hours - but it wasn't to be and despite finishing 2nd lady and coming away with nearly $1500 in prize money, I was extremely disappointed.

Marathon 28 - Red Deer Marathon - May 2014

Finishing Time: 3.11.08   Position:  1st Lady

The Red Deer Marathon brought back memories of race victories from a couple of years ago, where I was genuinely happy with my run and knew i really could not have gone any quicker. I was realistic with my goals, expecting to run anything between 3.10 and 3.15. Having looked at the past results, I knew that this could bring a win, depending who else turned up.

It was a fabulous day, made even more memorable because our friend Kim also won the ladies half marathon, and it was nice to have not only Andy there supporting us, but also Kim's hubby Adam, and our good frind Alan.

The weather conditions were ideal with cool temperatures and light rain - it really was a fabulous race and one that I was sure to go back to.

Marathon 29 - Banff Marathon - June 2014

Finishing Time: 3.41.48   Position:  8th Lady

Another epic fail in Banff. Having suffered from a seriously bad cold in the week leading up to the race, I really shouldn't have raced given that I was coughing up lots of green phlegm on race morning. The course was also changed at the last minute due to bears feeding on the original route around Vermillion Lakes. Instead we ran along the cycle track that goes parallel to the Trans Canada Highway - still in the mountains with some fabulous vistas, but not quite the "run with nature" that we had all been expecting. I completely understood the reason for the change and didn't have a problem with it - the wildlife were there first, we are running in their territory - let them be.

It was also a very hot day and many people were caught unawares by the fierce strength of the sun. No only did I finish coughing and sputtering, but I had severe sunburn that made sleeping on my back impossible for the following week.

Marathon 30 - Mount Robson Marathon - September 2014

Finishing Time. 4.29.45   Position:  3rd Lady

What can I say about the Mount Robson Marathon, other than it really is the most scenic marathon I have EVER done! It's a trail marathon but still counts in my tally, and I went into the race simply to have lots of fun and enjoy the amazing scenery of the Rocky Mountains. Fantastic views, an amazing course with lots of climbing that takes you to the base of the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies, and finishing 3rd lady to make the podium. It really was a most AMAZING day!

Marathon 31 - Toronto Marathon - October 2014

Finishing Time: 3.06.04  Position:  20th Lady

2014 was a busy year of racing for me and whilst I'd originally entered Toronto for... you've guessed it, to go sub 3! .... I knew I had trail legs these days and that I had to be realistic about my goals in Toronto.

I'd never been to Ontario and it was great to spend the weekend with our good friends Dawn and Don, and Dawn's family, and to experience the beautiful area in which Dawn's family lived.

The race itself went as expected, and I was extremely pleased to finished 3rd in the  masters category which meant I came away with $200 in prize money - certainly worth the effort :-)

Marathon 30 - London Marathon - April 2015

Finishing Time: 3.02.34  Position:  114th Lady

Once again, I had high hopes of breaking 3 hours when I went back to London last year. I rejoined Midland Masters as a way of getting a guaranteed Championship Entry and it was great to see so many old friends whilst there. I remember the day being cool and damp at the start, but warming up throughout the morning. The buzz I get whenever I stand on Blackheath Common was still there, and I was excited and confident of yet another good run in London.

A 7 hour time difference and a wee bit of jet lag meant that I suffered a little bit on race day, but I got far closer to 3 hours than I had for a while. I was extremely happy with my run and it was fantastic travelling back up to Stoke after the race to see family and friends, and to share our stories about the race.

Marathon 31 - Red Deer Marathon - May 2015

Finishing Time: 3.09.12  Position: 2nd Lady

The Red Deer Marathon was not in my race plans for 2015, but being the defending champion, I was invited back to race again. The race came just 3 weeks after London and knowing that I likely wouldn't be fully recovered from a hard run in London, I opted to go back and just hoped to be able to run a quicker time than the previous year.

I never led the race this year and lay in 2nd place all the way around, slowing quite dramatically in the second half when compared to my usual marathon splits as the fatigue in my legs from London started to build. I kept being told that I was gaining on the leading lady, but it wasn't until the last mile or so that I actually saw how close she really was - literally just 400m or so. Had I known sooner, I may have found something inside me to give chase. As it happened, I was still happy with my 2nd place and with a little bit of prize money, I couldn't complain.

It was the same day as the Red Deer Marathon that Andy left Calgary to start setting things up for our move to Phoenix, so whilst I was in a celebratory mood, I found myself home alone as he boarded a plane to head south to Arizona. I had no idea when I would next see him, nor when I would be moving there myself with the rest of our family and it sort of took the shine away from my race result.

Marathon 32 - Las Vegas Marathon - November 2015

Finishing Time: 3.29.09  Position:  10th Lady

Las Vegas .... oh dear. Another attempt at a sub 3, another build up in training that dictated that sub 3 was in my grasp, but the weather on the day had other ideas. Weather warnings for high winds that could cause potential damage just an hour before the start cast doubts in my mind, but I thought I'd just go for it anyway. Having dodged flying road signs, aid station tables, plastic cups and goodness knows what else, as well as taking a fair old battering and being blown all over the place, I finally gave up the chase and made the decision that this would be my last competitive marathon. Absolutely no more....ever.

Marathon 33 - Phoenix Marathon - February 2016

Finishing Time: 3.19.49  Position:  27th Lady

So, why did I let myself talk myself into doing Phoenix? Because I was feeling fit and strong after Vegas, I felt like I was capable of one final sub 3, and it was getting to be an obsession now.

If you read my previous post, you will know that I once again gave up the chase, and I have finally admitted to myself that my marathon days are now over. I realised on Sunday that there is no passion for running marathons anymore, and if you've managed to read all of the above, you will see that my motivation and passion for running marathons has faded in the past couple of years. I just don't have it anymore.

But you'll have also seen that I've had some amazing moments during my marathon career and whilst I would like to have ended it on a high, I'm not willing to put myself through it all again - not at the moment anyway. Maybe I'll change my mind in the future, but that will be my decision when I feel the time and place is ready. 

So there you have it - a brief (!!) summary of my 35 marathons.  I'd  like to finish by saying that for those of you that find the lure of marathon running appealing, go for it and be sure that you are enjoying it and doing it for youself. Having folks around you for support and training is a huge help, and in recent years that's certainly one thing I've missed - the encouragement and support of group training runs and speed sessions that I used to get at Trentham are long gone and I've got so used to running alone these days that I'm not used to the crowds you get in the marathon anymore.

The most important thing though of course is to have fun. Chasing times isn't the be all and end all - I guess it's taken me 20 years to finally realise that :-)


No comments:

Post a Comment

Mountain Fun and Another Pup! :-)

A couple of weeks ago, I ran the MEC Half Marathon. It came just a couple of weeks post Blackfoot and for once, I didn't really say too...