Saturday, May 05, 2012

My Milton Keynes marathon [2] - my race in review

The second part of three sections, a beginning, a middle, and an end - in other words the the final run up, the race, and the aftermath... the race itself... I said my so longs and left the comfort of the stadium to head out to the start just outside on the main road. I was assaulted by the weather and then greeted by the warmth of the runners huddle in the start area. So off came the charity clothing (which I put onto a growing pile on the crowd control barrier), on went the Cancer Research UK charity plastic running poncho, and into my allotted start group I plunged. I originally stated on my entry form 4 to 4:15 for a projected finish, and so was in the green start group - I still had no idea if this was the right place to be after the injury hit preparations.

I had consumed my pre-race jelly beans and water and was all set. With watch primed I wondered what what come of the race. The run went and the elite runners left us for their swifter effort, the next group moved up, and soon we were called forward to cross the start line... here begun my first ever marathon run...

Mile 1 - with the physio's advice in my ear I stepped out as if I was to run all day. Running felt comfortable, I was fairly oblivious to the weather already more tuned into what my calf might be doing and how my legs were feeling. At the end of the first mile I was imagining my legs were on the cross-trainer and spinning they way they would if I was doing a crazy long session.

All stills from a video that was posted on the
Milton Keynes Citizen website
(I'm in the blue Cancer Research UK rain poncho)
Miles 2 and 3 - I was focusing on just rolling along and being within a comfortable zone. The route began to twist in through estates and parks, and at fairly regular intervals pass under road underpasses. These underpasses were great because the harboured the noisy cheering squads of kind souls who had braved the weather to come see the mad runners.

Miles 4, 5, 6 and 7  - These were it turned out the 'good' miles I really found a rhythm and was moving well (a little too well). I worked through my first pack of jelly beans, took on water and found a couple of likely looking runners to follow as pacers. I wasn't overtaking any more people than were overtaking me so I felt I wasn't going to crazy. It still felt very much like I was running within myself, even though I noticed my pace was looking a tad too healthy. My watch only shows the average pace per mile for the whole run (or lap if I was pressing the button), so I should have realised that the lowering of my average masked quite an increase in pace in these miles.

Mile 8, 9, 10 - I was still feeling good and trying to consolidated, but slowing down a fraction as I finally recognised my pace had peaked.

Mile 11 and 12 - there was a little slow down as the realisation dawned on me that I had yet to reach halfway and it was beginning to hurt.

Mile 13 - at this point I was pleased to get to half way and was a little surprised at my time, 2hr 3mins - too quick as it turned out!

Mile 14 and 15 - I worked on taking it down to take it home at 'jogging' pace. Through these miles I was so happy to start counting down the miles.

Mile 16, 17 and 18 - could really feel a fade and tiredness coming on... you can see for yourself below how the fade went...

My mile split times - printed out stuffed in my pocket and shown to anyone who was interested ;-)

Mile 19 - just after the Mile 18 marker at a drink station my slow down turned into a walk and a chat with a fellow runner.  During our chat two timed pace runners went by, both the 4:15 and the 4:30... I resolved not to let the 4:45 get by me. During this phase the rain had eased so I gave up my poncho - whoops!! - as soon as I had gone another half mile the skies opened again!

Mile 20 and 21 - back into running. I started to imagine how it would feel to cross the line, picturing myself finishing and conjuring up the emotions that might bring.

Mile 22 - mixed run / walking

Mile 23 and 24 - Power walking - I essentially opted to stride out these two miles, to stretch my legs (especially my calfs), and let them recover for a final push. I was basically marching, remembering my child hood as the son of an army nurse and how strong and tall parading soldiers present themselves. Funny what imagery can do for form and motivation.

Mile 25 - Toilet break and then the final push.

Mile 26 - Some semblance of running form returned with the adrenaline of nearing the end.

Finish - As I crossed the line I simply leaped in the air and yelled "Yesss!" at the top of my lungs. I felt a little childish but it was simply an expression of my deep joy and relief at achieving a massive challenge. I was so relieved to see my family, and happy that my sister had come down to see me finish too.
Crossing the line - I'm the tiny guy in green (honest)
Happy boy!! Clutching my finishers medal
Grateful to receive a massage from the stand
run by one of the charities I ran for
My time? Well in the end it was 4hr 43min 52sec, an obvious personal best as it was my first marathon. Not as fast as I could have gone with either better pacing or less injury hit training, but a time I am mightily proud of. At this moment I doubt I will ever run another marathon, but 'never say never again' as the phrase goes...

No comments: