A marathon of two halves

You can read part one of my Milton Keynes marathon experience here… >> The good half
Read below for the half of the race that wasn’t so good…!

So I was incredibly lucky to have my friend Laura offer to pace me for the final ten miles of the marathon.  When she offered a fortnight ago I was quick to say ‘Yes please!’  A much quicker runner than me and having recently completed a coaching course, as well as being able to chat away about nothing whilst I grunted in response were all appealing qualities for my pacer!

I must admit I can’t have been much fun at all for those 10.2 miles though!  I started out being able to chat a little but Laura quickly dominated the conversation and my responses became grunts!

Mile 16:  11:53

I was paying the price of setting off too quickly and once I had walked to take on board the half orange and nakd bar that Laura had passed over to me, I was into the vicious walking cycle.  My heart rate kept jumping up too high which worried me – so for the last ten miles it really was a run-walk-run-walk strategy that kept me going.  I was disappointed with myself as the first half had been so consistent up until this point.  I recently read a blog (I’m afraid I can’t remember which one) where the blogger had written that they didn’t start noticing results until they pushed themselves harder than they thought they were capable of and being able to do that consistently as part of their training had helped to improve their times and take more than an hour off of their existing marathon time.  I had pushed myself harder than I thought I was capable of in the first half but unfortunately just didn’t maintain it in the second half!

Mile 17:  12:12
Mile 18:  

The official photographer snapped a picture of me desperately trying to smile without showing my teeth here as I had just taken a large bite of nakd bar and it was stuck all round my teeth!Smiling at Milton Keynes Marathon

Mile 19:  12:44
Mile 20:  

The second half of the race is much more picturesque than the first and takes you round all of the lakes and little villages on the outskirts of the city.  This thankfully meant that in places we could shelter a little from the sun, which was a good job as it was out in full force by this point and I was very glad of the suncream I’d put on that morning.  Despite the suncream I still ended up with large lines where my watch and pacing band had been.
It was about here that I started to get a sharp pain in the middle of my chest, just below my ribcage.  It wouldn’t go away and was still there when I walked, although not as severely.

Laura kept telling me not to worry about my time, that my target was now to finish.  I knew I was going to finish.  I never had any worry about that, I’m stubborn and it was only a 10k to go by this point.  Marathons don’t fit in to a schedule very easily though and I wanted to make the most of this one!

I had also forgotten just how many redways were on this course.  They didn’t bother me in previous years but I did notice the elevation change this year!  Milton Keynes is a flat course if you forget the redways!

Mile 21:  12:11
Mile 22:  13:12

I was getting slower and slower.  Since Laura had joined me I had been worriedly checking my pacing band at each mile marker to see my target time start to look more and more like it would remain a dream forever.  The pacing band I was wearing was the 5 hour one and I was now only a few minutes ahead of where I should be if I was aiming to run a 5 hour marathon.  It was at this point that the 5 hour pacer passed me (a little ahead of his target) and I felt really upset that I had spoilt my race.  Perfect timing for two of our club runners to appear on the side of the road and support us (or not!)  I think my words were “Don’t take a photo of this!”

Milton Keynes Marathon mile 21Although that was quickly followed with a grin and an attempt to pick up the pace to get that 5 hour pacer back in sight again.Milton Keynes Marathon mile 21

Mile 23:  12:23
Mile 24:  

There were a bunch of guys here with the sign ‘LUBE’ written behind them and some Jamaican music blaring from speakers.  They kept shouting out ‘Ladies, would you like some lube?!’  It sounded rather wrong but it made me smile!

Mile 25:  12:12

I was determined to run from mile 25 to the end no matter how slowly and no matter how much my chest hurt by this point.  We kept it steady and when Laura left me in the stadium carpark so that she could rush inside to cheer me over the line I lengthened my stride, knowing I was almost there now.

Mile 26:  12:02

There is nothing like my running club when it comes to supporting other runners.  As soon as I entered that stadium all I could hear were the shouts and screams of my name from the ten runners still sat on the side waiting for me to finish.  Obviously I picked up my pace and beamed.

Milton Keynes marathon stadium finish Milton Keynes marathon stadium finishThey didn’t disappoint at all and when I reached the far side of the stadium their volume went up even further and so I really pushed for the finish.  I was there now.  Apparently I ran that last little bit at 7:13mm pace!  I crossed the line and stopped my watch.

Nubbin (0.51m):  10:08 pace

I had set my watch to show cumulative time on the top of my watch.  This meant it only showed  hours and minutes, not the seconds.  As I pressed the stop button my watch I saw it read 5:00.  GAH!  I laid down on the field next to the finish for a few minutes building up the mental energy to check my time.  How gutting that I was only a few seconds short of that ever-elusive sub 5 hour marathon.  Finally I built up enough energy to open up the data and check my seconds…  5:00:28.

But…a new PB, lessons learnt and a much stronger first half than I thought I was ever capable of in a half marathon right now, never mind a marathon.

The other two times I have run Milton Keynes Marathon we received printouts of our time and splits as we crossed the finish line but there did not appear to be any splits handed out to runners this year.  About 30 minutes after finishing I received a text telling me I had completed the race in 2hours 14minutes and I panicked that I had only been entered into the half marathon, not the full marathon as I thought, but apparently there had been a mixup with the times that were texted out and I had just been texted another runner’s half time instead.  The results were available immediately online, so it was nice not to have to constantly check for my official time.  I was a little disappointed with the goody bag.  In the past we had a t-shirt, and a full size mars bar amongst other things, but no t-shirt this year and the mars bar was now fun-sized!  There were also a few other samples and a bag of crisps in the bag, which I ate not long after.  The medal, as in other years was a good one though, with a really thick, quality ribbon, which is nice.

Milton Keynes marathon medal 2015Marathon number 8 done.  Where shall I head for marathon number 9?…!
Any suggestions for fast, flat marathon courses over the next couple of months?


8 thoughts on “A marathon of two halves

  1. I am so gutted for you. To me it sounds as though you really did give it your all and it just wasn’t your day. You’re so close though, and I think with a more conservative pacing strategy you’re more than capable of going under five hours.

    I’m not sure which blog you’re referring to, but to me what they said is a vast oversimplification. It’s reductive to suggest that one can achieve results simply by pushing harder in training: I adopted that approach in 2011 and ran so many 7:xx tempos that I ran myself into three stress fractures. I pushed myself on every run, and I fell into that trap this year too until my body totally broke down and now even though I do my training runs at an average of 30 seconds to a minute per mile faster than I did for most of 2010, 2012 and 2013, my times are 10-20 minutes slower depending on the distance. It makes no sense to me, but I think that there are so many factors besides effort involved. People like to believe that the mind has total influence over the body (it gives them an illusion of control) and that’s just not true. I think we’ve all paid the price for going out too hard and too fast at least once, and to me your approach to running is better than someone else’s. Just because they achieved results (which might be attributed to a multitude of factors) with one approach, it doesn’t mean it could work for everyone.

    Off the top of my head the only fast and flat marathon around over the summer is Rock and Roll Liverpool, but I’m not familiar with many of the races in the South! That would probably be a bit of a trek for you, but it’s definitely a fast course.
    Jess @ One Step Closer recently posted…Blackpool Marathon ~ 3:37:57 and Sunderland City Half Marathon ~ 1:40:59My Profile

    1. I didn’t do a very good job of summing up the blog I was talking about to be honest. I was at work when writing my post and didn’t have it available to me at the time to properly quote from. I still fully intend on running to heart-rate for the majority of my runs as I have found that this works for me. Perhaps I just need to push a little harder when it comes to speed work or hill training to see better results. I really do not want to be a 5 hour marathoner (not even that yet!) forever!
      I did consider the Liverpool marathon after a hunt the other day but realistically it is too far for me to travel and too expensive as well. All of the cost and time spent travelling would result in a very miserable Mary if something went wrong on the day and I didn’t achieve my goal.

  2. Hey you got a PB!! And it sounded really tough towards the end so I think you did amazingly well.
    You “closed lips” smile made me laugh – bad timing, eh! But you still look great.
    You could do the Liverpool marathon?? It’s relatively flat…and I’m doing it 😉 Not sure how far from you that is though? My UK geography is rubbish! I’m staying with my granddad in Stoke-On-Trent and then driving there in the morning (as it’s only about an hour away). Otherwise I have no idea. I chose Liverpool because of the timing and how flat it was (and my dad’s a massive Liverpool FC fan so knew he’d enjoy supporting).
    Anna @AnnaTheApple recently posted…Top tips for a gluten free birthdayMy Profile

    1. I was originally tempted by the Liverpool marathon. The timing fits, like you say – it’s nice and flat, and I know the Rock and Roll medals are pretty great! It’s such a long way away though, and quite expensive when it comes to a marathon. In fact, I just googled it and my UK geography must be rubbish too. I had no idea it was over near Wales! Apparently it would take more than 3 hours to get there, so it’s not really an option unfortunately. :(

  3. So close! But still a pb so really well done. :)
    Marathons are so hard- in that the pacing is so hard to do because you can push hard but you never know when the wheels will fall off.
    The medal is lovely, and a stadium finish is always good. I can’t believe how keen you are to do another one so soon! I was thinking that Brighton would be good- it is pretty flat really (a gentle incline in the first half for a bit, but that’s all) but you would have to wait until next April for that one!
    Maria @ runningcupcake recently posted…Back on the Graze bandwagonMy Profile

    1. Brighton is definitely one to try for another year. Manchester as well. I read so many great race reports from both of those courses this Spring!
      I have decided to wait a little while until attempting my next marathon (although not a whole year!) I think Mablethorpe might be next on the cards in October again. Still haven’t decided 100% though.
      Pacing for marathons is difficult to judge. Like you say, you never know when the wheels will come off! And because of the distance it’s not like parkrun where you can be like ‘Oh whoops, I’ll just try again next week!’

    1. I literally must have removed all memories of the redways from my mind, because I do not remember it being that ‘undulating’ the last two times I ran it!

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