Monday, 7 October 2013

Training for and running the Bournemouth Marathon

Taking part in the London Marathon this year was possibly the best experience of my life. I had some problems and although I got around I didn’t do it in a time I was happy with. I honestly thought I’d only ever do one marathon. They’re time consuming to train for and mentally challenging too. But somehow, in the endorphin-fuelled aftermath of the VLM I found myself looking at the flier for the very first Bournemouth Marathon and encouraging Amy to sign up in an I-will-if-you-will way. She did so I did. So I found myself preparing for a second marathon.
The Posse: Amy, Anna and me. We mean business
I developed a relatively solid level of fitness over the Spring so decided that a 12-week plan would be sufficient. I ended up training for a couple of triathlons before hand as well as fitting in study so juggling everything was challenging to say the least. I found training through the Summer in the heat as opposed to the cold, dark and wet Winter a lot easier in some ways as I had more daylight to play with and could do my long runs during the week but the sheer amount of "stuff" I had to balance stressed me out. Towards the end, very little went to plan. I didn't get in the long runs I wanted and my longest run ended up being a split one, 8 miles in the morning and 12 in the evening. That was it. I only managed a 16 miler prior to that, so not the best.
Cheesy pre-race photo! I have the BEST supporters :)
In the week before the marathon I had a bit of a holiday. I completely chilled out, ate ridiculous amounts of food, drank more in 4 days than I had the previous month, and had two very treacly runs where everything felt wrong. Apparently this put me in very good stead for the event. I hadn't really thought too much about it, I wasn't psyched up in the same way as for London. In fact I felt pretty zen. I stayed over in Bournemouth the night before the event in a lovely little B&B with my parents. We spent the evening eating lovely food and watching the sun set over the sea, had a slap up breakfast in the morning and strolled the mile to the start area where I met up with Amy and Anna. We'd decided to start the race together, which was the best decision I made, it stopped me from going off too quickly, chatting took my mind off things as it just felt like a training run, and we got loads of support from the spectators thanks to Anna's fabulous tutu.
Check out that amazing tutu
The start of the race was at the local stadium. There seemed to be plenty of loos, the baggage drop lorry was well manned and it was really easy to find our start pen. What I hadn't given much thought to was how much smaller this event was to London. It took almost no time at all to get over the start line and I started to get concerned about how I'd manage to stay motivated with smaller crowds and possibly fewer people around me at the end of the race. I needn't have worried. It was a glorious day, slightly too hot for running truth be told, but it brought the locals out in force, particularly along the front at the beach chalets where several people set up unofficial water stations for the runners.

The first half of the race zoomed by. We chatted to bat woman, a couple of 100 Marathon Club members, superman to name but a few. We looked out for friends on the switchbacks and I spotted some Tough Mudders, Farnham Runners and Reading Road Runners. I parted company with the girls shortly after the halfway point to maintain my pace and found myself still in good nick by mile 18, the point at which things fell apart for me in London. The last 4 miles were a bit hard but I was still able to run a bit and power walk. A few niggles but I couldn't believe how good I felt (for running a marathon, it's all relative).
High fives from my fella. Rock on!
My favourite part was through the park between miles 18 and 20, there was shade and some nice downhill action. I was met by my fella who offered encouragement, ran with me for a while and then poured water over me before sending me back out into the scorching sun.The heat cause a few people issues; I saw a several people receiving medical treatment and I made sure I took on a little water at each station to stay hydrated. I'm rocking a spectacular runners tan now! I ended up not using my iPod at all, instead chatting to Anna and Amy, enjoying the encouragement from the sidelines and the few bands on route. I wanted to soak it all up and not miss a moment.

I was very impressed with the organisation, especially as it was the first event. There were loads of marshals, all in high spirits, friendly, knowledgeable and enthusiastic. The water stations were frequent and well stocked and many had gels available in the second half of the race too. Because of the route along the front there were plenty of public toilets we could use, with no queues! The course itself was relatively flat, save a couple of hills which I just power walked. Most of the course was along the front, starting off on roads and then dropping to the promenade, zig zagging up and down and going out onto both piers and back. Taking us under the finishing arch around the 18 mile point was a bit mean and the last 6 miles up and down the promenade was hard work, being flat, open and monotonous.
You can't see it but I AM smiling!
There was still a massive crowd when I reached the finish line and although everything ached, I still managed to run over the finish line with a smile on my face. I didn't feel as emotional as I did after London, or indeed the last few events I'd done. I think the difference was that I was well rested, relaxed and had built up some tolerance for fatigue. The finish area was well organised, obviously by the time I got there it wasn't very crowded so I was filtered through as fast as I could manage to collect my (amazing) medal, goody bag (containing arnica gel, mints and other bits and bobs) and a technical t-shirt in my favourite colour (purple).
I knocked a massive 57 minutes or so off my London time and although I've already been asked when I'm going to do my next one and get a sub 5-hour, I don't have the same high as I did from London so I'm not sure if I'll do another or not. That said, all in all I loved every single moment of this race. There was a great atmosphere, excellent organisation and even at around £45 I thought it was a good value race. There were many other events going on as part of the bigger festival with a 5k, 10k and half marathon as well as kiddies events so something for everyone.
The tradition of the post race ice cream continues. Check out that bling!
Vital Stats
Race number: 6445
Full time: 05:05:34
Split 1: 02:29:01

Overall finish position: 1688 of 3001






3 comments:

  1. You are just amazing!! Sounds like you are a proper marathon runner now! So wonderful to hear that you had a good time. xx

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    Replies
    1. I guess if I've done two, no matter what the time, I am a proper marathon runner! I can't quite believe it. Who'd have thought at the start of the year, I'd have done 2 marathons and 3 triathlons by the end!!!

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