After weeks of training through all types of weather it's finally arrived. Almost a year ago I remember being nervous about whether or not I could complete the Great north run, I've completed it twice now so the Marathon is the next challenge upwards.
We manage to get a seat on a mini bus arranged through friends of Chris, it's nice to not to worry about driving there and finding parking etc, I've enough to worrry about today. Were dropped off literally on the course and have to walk up to the university campus where the event is staged, what's most notable for me is how much of a uphill trek the finish line is, not what you want to see after 26 miles of running. Once inside the campus we bump into the other club members taking part today, most are looking relaxed and ready, more than I am anyway. Simon, Mark, Catherine, Richard and Jack are here and after wishing them well it's time to head to the start.
Both Chris and I agreed a few weeks ago the best way for me to see out the distance was to try and stick to 10 min miles, that's the plan anyway. The race starts and finishes on the same road so the uphill finish I mentioned earlier is also a downhill start which doesn't help runners who are constantly reminded not to go off too quickly, we were passed by so many runners inside the first mile but we had a plan and had to stick to it. Just before reaching York Minister we reached another club member Richard Coates who was also running his first marathon. After the large crowds in the city the country lanes were a lot quieter and it was nice to get into a steady rhythm knowing it's a long way to go. Our pacing was going well and with gel and water on board we reached the first of two out and back sections, Stamford bridge. There was a huge crowd here with loud music playing and I got a little carried away by speeding up a little, after a reminder from Chris we settled back into pace and headed out again into a long drawn out uphill section which wasn't helped by the fact the sun had now appeared and the day was warming up.
Once passing the half way marker it was noticeable how many runners were now struggling and were now walking, you could certainly tell who had put in the training miles. The second out and back section was a long drawn out 3 miles starting around 17 mile marker. This seemed a good time to look out for the others passing on the other side and also helped pass some time away, we managed to spot Catherine and Mark who looked comfortable and when we were coming back up we also spotted Richard again. After the busy out and back section the course turns back towards the city from the 20 mile marker, this was now unknown territory to me as I have never ran past 20 miles before but hopefully the holding back in the early miles would help me through. A lovely quiet stretch through some small villages passed away the miles and it was now noticeable that we were passing lots of runners who were walking and hardly anybody had passed us for a long time. By this stage there were plenty of runners who were struggling and several were receiving ambulance treatment.
By 23 miles my legs were very tired but Chris was still going well and it was trying to stay with him that kept me going as we headed into town. In the distance I could see the petrol station we had passed at the start so I knew we were almost done with just the uphill section to go. I had to dig deep to get up the hill but once over the brow and passing the 26 miles it was all downhill and suddenly the legs come back alive again for a comfortable jog over the finish. Our average pace for the whole run was 9:51 min miles which was quicker than planned and it found me out in the latter stages but we were never in trouble at any time and I'm more pleased of the fact we ran every step of the course which was our aim. Although Chris was comfortable he never left me behind which helped me keep going and it was great to finish together.
We managed to catch up with most of the others afterwards who had all done brilliantly well and were very pleased with themselves. York was a great marathon and one I will do again someday.