It’s not even sunk in yet that yesterday I ran 26.2 miles. Even as I was running, I found I had to keep reminding myself that this was it, you’re running a marathon, this is what you’ve been training for over the past few months! Clearly I thought my life would change dramatically after completing a marathon, but it’s sort of like when somebody asks how you feel being another year older on your birthday: you feel exactly the same, you just know that something should be different. For my first crack I’m really pleased, and the majority of the time I really enjoyed it, feeling pretty much alright at the end. Of course, I’ve already been reflecting and thinking about what I did well, and what needs some work for next time…
First up, when they say it’s the UK’s flattest marathon with only 54m of elevation, they surely mean net elevation. The whole way out felt like a slight uphill – and this would make sense, with Manchester city being situated in a valley – with a great big hill going into Altrincham. The halfway point is inside Altrincham town centre and it’s literally downhill from there, although the second half is much harder to run than the second, with adrenaline, energy and legs fading.
Organisation and support on the route couldn’t be faulted, and neither could the water stations, of which there were loads. There were official fuelling points and also at every turn locals proffered everything from jelly babies to homemade cakes, so even if you weren’t carrying any nutrition you’d have been absolutely fine. Of all of my Boost bars I ate one, and mainly stuck to the Jelly Babies! I didn’t get hungry whilst running and I felt better than I did on all of my long runs, which my friend Matt concurred with, and suggested it was the adrenaline. Looking for faces I knew in the crowd kept me going; whether it was a call from a friend I didn’t expect to be there, to the Cheer Dem crew waiting with signs and a megaphone at mile 21, it gave me a huge surge of energy which lasted for a long while.
I walked, a lot. More than I thought I would. But I felt okay with it, and lots of other people walked, too. I finished with a time of 4:27 which, considering I was aiming for sub-4, I thought I’d be disappointed with – but now I know just how hard a marathon is, I’m really pleased I got round!
If I ever did a marathon again (let’s be honest, this is pretty likely) there are two things I’d work on particularly:
- Glute and hamstring strength, and hip flexibility.
All of the above are an ongoing issue for me, but it became painfully obvious as the run progressed. My hips ached, deep within, and as I ran I felt my run form going to pot. However, I can say that my core worked very hard – I know that because my back and abs ache today like they’ve done hours of plank!
- More consistent long runs in a group setting.
Only one of my long runs was done in a group (thank you, Still Waters Run Deep) and admittedly the majority of my long runs were battles within my own mind. I hated them – I felt sick, weak, and whenever I fancied a walk, I did so. As such I kept my long runs to every other week. I think I would have been better prepared had I gone for a weekly long run with others around me who would push me on – although unfortunately these sorts of runs are held at the weekend, the main time I’m at work.
For now, I’m going to await the feeling of satisfaction at completing a marathon to wash over me whilst I rest and refuel, but after that it’s back to the grind. There are always PBs to better and I’m already thinking of ways to smash my next goal.