Milton Keynes Marathon the sequel! (Pt 2)

If you haven’t already read the first half of my MK #2 marathon recap, read it here:)  …Here comes part 2!…

Mile 16 took us around Willen Lake and it was a completely different experience after running through this area last year in the pouring rain!  The sun was shining, kids were out everywhere and I wondered if any marathon runners had stopped at the pub or for an icecream?!

I saw Ian, one of our club runners, pint in hand cheering us all on and it kept me going strong, running through the midst of all those people.  MK had done a terrific job at separating the pedestrians from the runners and the support here was superb!  It really kept me going seeing Ian, and then a little further along, Kerry, somebody who had joined the beginners group with me back in 2011 but now no longer runs anymore.  Then I saw Dan.

In the morning I had asked Dan if he would video a section of me running out on the course for my Mum.  She had desperately wanted to see me run my first marathon last year but isn’t a very confident driver and when trees had toppled down everywhere the morning of the race last year and she couldn’t sleep the night before due to the wind hitting 26 mph she rang me extremely upset the morning of the race to say that she was too terrified to make the trip down to see me but was determined to watch my second marathon.

Unfortunately, Mum’s chemo hasn’t gone as planned recently and she had missed the last three sessions due to her white blood cell count being too low.  Her immune system is extremely poor right now and she has very little energy so was unable to make it for marathon number two as well.  I decided over the weekend that I would put together a little video for her to show her some of the day and recorded a little piece in the car on the journey down.  Dan then ran alongside me filming me just after mile 16 and I am yet to record my finish reflections to add to the video.  If it all turns out how I would like it to, I shall post a copy on the blog towards the end of the week after I have given a copy to Mum.

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Dan commented on how much stronger I looked at this point.  I had been incredibly low when I saw him at halfway.  I came past him running and he picked up the pace next to me, running alongside for several minutes.  In the picture below which the official photographer caught, you can just see Dan with his phone out to the right of shot!

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After Dan left I knew I would struggle.  It was still 10 miles until the finish!

My chest started to ache.  Right in the middle of my chest, at the bottom of my rib cage.  I ignored the ache to begin with although my walking stints were getting much longer and more frequent by now.

At mile 18 I was ill.  I hadn’t been the only one.  From this point onwards, I dodged several piles of sick across the track.  Luckily I wasn’t too far past the water stop so I headed back to get a refill in my bottle before continuing.  From about mile 20 my chest HURT, really HURT every time I tried to run.  I felt like I couldn’t take a full breath in and trying to do so hurt immensely.  I was pretty worried as to what was wrong.  The ache in my legs I could deal with and put out of my mind, but this pain felt like something was really wrong.  I ran when I could bear the pain but it was never for too long any more and eventually I ended up falling into a rhythm of 0.2 miles jog and 0.1 miles walk.  It was a real struggle to get further than 0.2 jogging without being in pain but I wish I had put this backup plan into place much earlier on as I probably would have been able to maintain it until the end.

I passed a woman several times (who also passed me several times) who had a ‘100-club’ marathon top on.  Eventually we got chatting and I asked how many marathons she had run.  271!  Utmost respect!  I was with her at mile 22 where we passed five St. Johns and paramedics around two men lying flat out on the floor with breathing masks on and looking very sorry for themselves.  Another medic was rushing after a woman that had just wobbled off the path whilst throwing up.  It’s sights like this that made me thankful that I had not pushed my body too far, but still enough to complete the distance.  (Although I also wish that I had achieved a better time!)

Mile 24 came the last ‘drinks stop’.  I saw the sign, swigged the last of my water and held my hand out for another bottle.  Except, it was a Gatorade station, with no more water stations to go!  I’d not drunk Gatorade before and I can’t stand blackcurrant squash so wasn’t hopeful of the taste, but I needed more fluids so grabbed one anyway.  It was too sweet for me and I chucked it a little while later but it did get me that little bit further.

Two kids with water guns were just before mile 25 and then a boy of not more than 6 ran to the bottom of a hump-back-bridge, extending his hand and said that if I was struggling he would help pull me to the top!  The cutest thing ever!  Of course I took his hand!

I knew I needed a strategy to get into the finish and decided that I would run from 25.2 miles out and push through the pain to the finish, no matter how slow.  I began quite slowly.  As I ran along the road we had headed out on hours earlier Kev came rushing over to the edge of the railings to high five me on my way in.  I forgot completely about the pain in my chest and this pushed me on to pick up the pace and power past several people.  I realised I still had quite a way to the finish and didn’t want to push too hard, but when I heard our male club captain shouting my name across the car park as I turned into the stadium I threw up my left arm and picked up the pace further.  The best feeling was as I entered the stadium and all of the Welly runners were sat just right of the entrance and began screaming my name!  I managed to pick up my pace just one more notch to finish with the quickest pace of my marathon, overtaking more than 10 people in the stadium alone and then threw my arms up like I wish I’d done in my first marathon pictures!

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Miles 14-finish went like this…11:50, 12:58, 12:06, 13:41, 13:17, 14:16, 14:00, 13:45, 14:27, 14:06, 13:29, 14:10, 12:08, 9:32

Awful, but I had finished it.  Many people hadn’t.  I was happy that I had made it to the end and still achieved my ‘marathon #2′ title however bad my time.

Race official stats: 2045 completed the race, 494 DNF.  1811/2045 was my overall position. 405/509 female finisher.  226 of 288 senior female finisher.  Finish time: 5h 25m 52s.  A PW.  But the medal was pretty nice!

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In the goody bag we got a Mars bar, a banana and a race t-shirt.  I picked at the mars bar when I joined my club mates but didn’t really feel hungry at all which was odd.  Last year the first thing I wanted as soon as I got over the line was food.  This year I had my Mars bar then when Dan announced he was starving on the way home I had a fruit bag and a smoothie when he stopped to get food but had to really force them down.  My appetite was not around!

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There was still one more club member out there after I came in so we waited until nearly 6h 30m for him to come through the finish before club members dispersed and headed home for more relaxing evenings.  Whilst waiting for Andy to come through the finish, I learnt that four of our club had dropped out.  Two I had passed, so was aware of already.  One of our club runners who achieves a 3h 30m marathon at the end of an ironman had come in closer to 4h 30m and collapsed over the finish line!  Lots of our runners were 30mins + over their normal marathon times due to the heat.  The amount of support and friendly banter I had with my clubmates in the stands made me remember just why I love running and my club so much.  I will not let them down and I will be running another marathon this year and setting myself a new PB!!!

Milton Keynes Marathon the sequel! (Pt 1)

There’s so much I want to write about, which is why this post has taken so long to get up!  I’m going to split it into two parts so that it doesn’t go on for ever and ever!…Here’s part #1!

On Monday I ran (well, ran/walked) 26.2 miles for my second marathon in Milton Keynes.water

Milton Keynes Marathon was HOT.  The chart I found here tells me that it got up to 21 degrees at it’s highest!

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And trust me, my legs knew about it by the end of the day…

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I was a little nervous pre-marathon.  Lots of people knew I was running and I hate how everybody always wants to know your time as soon as you finish.  With club members that’s fine, but with non-runners who only hear times like 2h 20m from watching The London Marathon once each year, 4h 45m would sound like I put no effort in at all!

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I quickly found the rest of my club when I arrived just before 9am.  They were just inside the entrance at the MK Dons Stadium.  Dan had offered to drive me over and I’d already put my chip on my shoe, gels in my belt and pinned my number to my vest.  It was already very hot outside so we took shelter in the stadium until about 9:40 when we nipped to the toilet one last time and then headed over to get in line for the race start.  I also said goodbye to Dan at this point who was all bagged up with my stuff and ready to become club race photographer for the day…

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Maria asked if she could run with me.  I said yeah, sure but that I wasn’t sure we would be running the same pace.  She wanted to set out at 12mm but when the gun actually went she was gone at a 10mm pace so I actually let her go ahead within half a mile of the start!

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At the start of the race I heard a rumour about there being a 30 second silence for the victims at Boston although this was never confirmed and when the gun went at the start we didn’t move, but people weren’t silent either as most of them would not have heard about the planned silence – there had been no email sent round/no advertising, etc.  There was no second gun/sound at the end of the 30 seconds either, we just started running.  From my position towards the back the delay could have just been bottlenecking from the crowds of runners at the front.

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I found it pretty easy to settle into a 10:45-10:50 pace almost straight away.  To be on target for my gold goal of 4h 45m I needed to run at a constant 10:52 pace throughout.  I wore a printed out race pace band on my right wrist so that I could keep on track, but I also had my average pace displayed on my Garmin for this race.

The first six miles were different to last year and went through closed roads through town.  There were several sections where you passed faster runners heading back in the other direction and I got to see the lead runner hit the six mile point in just under 25 minutes!  I cheered the first 10 or so runners headed back in the other direction before returning to concentrate on my own running.  It started out so well…the first seven miles I was dead on target (10:46, 10:50, 10:48, 10:43, 10:37, 10:43, 10:48).  I had planned on running with the 4h 45m pacer and was excited to actually have pacers in the race but I never even saw the 4h 45m pacer at all.  I was just behind the 5hr pacer still at mile 7 and knew that he was going too fast.  I would have come in sub 4h 45m at the speed I was running and when Dan saw me to take some pictures at mile 6 I let him know I was nearly a minute ahead of time and still feeling strong.

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Up to this point I had passed several walkers.  In fact I had passed lots of people walking (I got the impression through exhaustion rather than planned walking) from before the mile 2 marker! – it was now gone 11am and incredibly hot by this point.  There were water stations every three miles, and although I didn’t take any water at the first station which was at mile 3, I took water from all of the other stations.  I would drink half and pour the other half over my head to cool myself down, knowing that I heat up incredibly quickly and that I don’t tend to run well in the heat anyway.

Just after the mile 3 water station there were loads of water bottles scattered over the road and one of the guys concentrating on staying with the pacer tripped over one.  I went to check he was OK and the pacer helped him up and he carried on.  A while later at mile 14 the same guy was on the phone and tripped over some yellow and black tape that was highlighting the concrete that had smashed and was sticking up in the middle of the track.  Again I stopped to check he was OK!  I passed him not long after this and didn’t see him again so I hope he didn’t have any more accidents!

Just before mile 6 somebody out walking their dog on the other side of the road lost control of it and it came bounding across the road infront of us all, really excited that there were so many runners to chase and play with.  One of the runners helped grab it until the owner could cross the road and get it back onto it’s lead again.  Could have been a nasty accident though.

Mile eight hit and I started to struggle.  The heat had soared by this point and every three miles was not close enough for the next water station for me.  Dan had mapped out his own route to spectate and I knew I wouldn’t be seeing him again until just after the half marathon point.  I can remember thinking “I can’t believe I’m not even halfway yet!”

At about mile 8.5 this amazing fellow was on the street with his hose…

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…It was just what we needed and I thanked him loads!  Afterwards though I worried that my legs were starting to rub where they had gotten wet so rang Dan to ask him to have some vaseline out ready at the next viewing point.  He told me afterwards that he panicked when I rang him that something had happened to me and that he couldn’t get his phone out of his pocket quick enough!

I saw Dan just after mile 13.  My miles 8-13 had slowed dramatically and despite not wanting to walk at all this marathon, I could not run straight anymore in the heat (11:17, 11:42, 12:37, 11:34, 12:03, 14:53).  I knew I was really, really struggling.  I had already passed two members of my club on the side of the road that had dropped out due to the weather conditions but I was determined to get through it no matter how much walking I ended up doing to get round.  When I saw Dan I stopped with him briefly to let him know that I was feeling awful but that there was no way I was going to give up on the race, although he should delete the picture he had taken of my pace band at the start as it would be useless at helping him guess where I was going to be when.  When I left Dan it was comforting knowing that I was going to see him again just after mile 16 – barely 3 miles later.

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Almost everybody around me was walking by this point and Dan commented on how many people he had seen walk.  Just two miles after the relay team handover a little while before I had seen relay members walking, unable to cope with the heats that were probably hitting their highest of 21 degrees by this point.

[More to come…]