My Bournemouth Marathon and a New PB!
On Friday 5th October, my dog Winston and I travelled from Cardiff to my hometown of Bournemouth for my 2nd marathon. I felt totally prepared but still anxious/nervous about what was going to happen on Sunday. Would I finish the marathon? Would I hit my time goal? Would it hurt like heck and leave me feeling as though I never wanted to run again?
This was going to be the first race that my family had seen me participate in which was exciting but also emotional. My dad passed away a few years ago and never got to see me complete my first marathon but I knew he would be there with me on the day.
On Sunday I got up, ate a massive amount of porridge and headed to the Vitality Stadium (known as Dean Court to us locals) which is the home of AFC Bournemouth football club. I used to get dragged there a lot when I was a kid by my mum and brother so it was a familiar and friendly place for me. The perfect place to start my race.
I chatted to a few runners before dropping my bag at the baggage truck and putting on my black bin bag to keep me warm before the race started. I wandered to the starting pens and found my green pen. The nerves had disappeared and excitement was running through my body. It was time. I had done the training and knew I was capable of doing this. I’d had a few glute and hamstring niggles during the last couple of months of training but was confident that they would keep working with me until the end.
The race started at 10am and I was passing the start line within a few minutes. Here we go, only 26.2 miles to run. Easy! I kept an eye on my Garmin to make sure I didn’t take off too quickly in the first couple of miles (something I do all the time in training!) and listened to the chit chat of my fellow runners. The first few miles ticked by nicely.
It started to get warm very soon into the race so I kept hold of my water bottle after the first water point. I had my fuel plan in my head and I knew what I had to do. I’d also given my mum and brother a top-up bag as I was aiming to see them at the 13.5 mile point. I had enough fuel on me to carry me through the whole race though so wasn’t worried if I missed them.
At mile 10 I needed to pee. Now anyone who knows me won’t be surprised by this, I always pee at least 4 times before a race and have been known to say “I think I need to pee” often during every run I do – even parkrun! When I re-joined the race I noticed that the man dressed as a rhino had overtaken me so I planned to just keep up with him for a while. That plan didn’t work out and he was soon a rhino-y shape in the distance.
Before long I hit the 13 mile marker so knew it wasn’t long before I saw the family. I found them easily and grabbed my top-up pack, I also scoffed half a Clif bar and rubbed a load of ibuprofen gel on my glutes and hamstrings. I didn’t have a clue if it was actually going to make any difference but it did in my head and that’s all that mattered.
I also saw my best friend Rachel who I met at school when we were 8, she gave me a massive hug and told me that she was really proud of me. This spurred me on to face the 2nd half of the race.
My body started to ache, it was getting hotter and I knew I just had to keep pushing through. I guessed that my goal time wasn’t going to happen but knew I could still manage a PB so kept focussed.
The miles ticked away and as I ran off Bournemouth Pier I realised that my mileage countdown was now in single figures. Only 9 miles to go! I could do this. I was still feeling pretty strong and my head was still in the game.
I chatted to people along the way and was soon at mile 22. A friend had run the half marathon earlier that day and he jumped in with me. He asked how I was feeling and I said “fine!” He kept talking to me and told me about his race, he matched my pace and kept my brain distracted for a while. I overtook the rhino!
The last 4 miles were the hardest and I fought to keep running. The last 2 miles were agony as I told myself that I had to keep running, if I walked then I would only be suffering for longer than was necessary. At the 26 mile marker I felt the emotion hit me. I was nearly there. I struggled to keep the sobs at bay, I was determined not to cry until I had finished.
Finally I race across the finish line. I grabbed a barrier and sobbed my heart out. I was emotionally and physically done. I ached all over. A paramedic came up to me to see if I was ok and then realised that they were happy tears and not injured tears. I had managed to get a PB. This route was hillier and a lot hotter conditions than my first marathon so I was extra happy with myself.
I walked to get my medal and goody bag, I was still crying as the lady put my medal over my head. I cried when I was given my goody bag, water and a cereal bar. I stopped crying when a girl came up to me who I’d run with during the 20th mile and hugged me. She had just completed her first marathon. We stood and grinned at each other.
I hobbled down the stairs to meet my family and friends. We wandered around the race village and then went to the baggage trucks to get my bag. My brother bought me a Bournemouth Marathon Festival hoody and then we went home. I had a really hot bath and a massive mug of tea then we ordered pizza and garlic bread! I ate until I couldn’t eat anymore.
The Bournemouth Marathon Festival is an incredible event, the organisation and marshalling was brilliant. The support from the locals was fantastic and made it much more enjoyable. I don’t think I’ll run the marathon again as there as so many others to do in the world but I’ll definitely be back to do the half marathon.
So to answer the 3 questions I asked myself at the start of the weekend. Yes I finished the marathon. No I didn’t hit my goal time but I still got a PB. Yes I still want to run, I always want to run!