Monday, 26 May 2008

26.2 ROCKS (long post)

Many things ROCK but 26.2 miles for no reason (rather than being chased by big dogs, or aliens with probes) really, really rocks!

My first thought on finishing was: again, again!!

I really loved it. I really hated the training but I loved every minute of the run. (Okay, apart from the minute when the leg of the guy in front of me contorted into a wild spasm of twisted cramp and he fell to the ground screaming in agony.) [He did get medical help v quickly.]

After carefully checking myself for sores, blisters and general wear-and-tear I can conclude that I am unscathed apart from a small blister on my chest. This exists because I insist on carrying a cotton hanky for snot and plegm related emergencies. There is no excuse for gobbing in the street, particularly when bits might land on runners behind you! ICK I may have to now invent a special sports endurance hanky that doesn't leave blisters and is wicking... shhh my fortune will be found on Dragon's Den.

4.53 unofficial time - v v pleased with this in a pathetic way. I keep nudging TheO (who looks at me as if I'm about to procalim on matters of import) and saying "I ran a marathon!" I'm not sure how long I can keep this up without being punched. Also - is it wrong to have the marathon medal on the bedpost?

sport beans rocked - really BIN THE GEL BUY THE BEANS
sports bra rocked - not a mark on me and my shoulders survived the bounce
sun burn less so - luckily mild

I followed my plan (sort of)
ran 10
walked 1
ran 8
walked 1.2
ran the rest - walking in small bursts for about 10min top - probably less.

My splits tell most of the story:
Average speed 11.07
10.03 ----At this point I'd averaged just under 10min/miles - faster than expected start
WALKED mile 11 - 14.43 (Had TheO on her bike near me had a lovely chat!)
10.33 - same time as my all-run training run
11.09 - getting hot & hilly & rough underfoot
WALKED mile 20 - 15.52
13.57 - walked 0.2 miles of this mile too - wanted only 6 to run at the end
11.07 - ran all
12.47 - walked a wee bit
11.09 - ran all
13.49 - walked some with the thought of finishing strong and enjoying the end
10.52 - loving the last mile
last 0.4 (on gps) miles 4.39 - practically a sprint finish

3547 calories burnt
5,000,000 calories eaten since

The start was quite exciting and I tried really hard to pace myself. I'm glad I ran a bit faster though. Made up for the slowing at the end.

Took some time to settle and I was quite antsy and still a bit trepidatious until mile 6 or 7 where I saw Spartans parents cheering me on like wild things. They were the first cheers for me and really made me think that maybe this marathon lark wasn't going to be soooo hideous after all.

At mile 9 lots of lovely, lovely friends were there embarrassing me and making me feel like some kind of superstar. It was brilliant and really cheered me up and made me feel like maybe this was going to be ok. I wasn't crazy - 26.2 might be possible.

Mile 10 was my walking break - I really had to force myself to take it, but I think the strategy worked in the end. TheO had caught up with me on her bike and chatted to me while I chugged back sport beans and water. I got a wee bit cold but just did up my jacket and felt much better.

The next 6 were good - The Professor and Rock God (plus some family) made it out to mile 15/16 and the extra cheers really did spur me on up the hill and back down again.

18/19 were cruel jokes. The terrain turned to hard red pebbles and dusty track, there were no crowds, there was an unexpectedly unpleasant uphill, we were sheltered from the wind and the sun was baking. It took all my will power to remain running and not stop until mile 20 for my walking break.

Ahh, 20 was pure joy. I was delighted not to be feeling that intense calf agony that normally sets in at this point on the walk. I just ate more beans, had more water, cooled my head off (saw Prof and Rock God again) and desperately tried to remain focused. I'd managed to run this far by giving myself a little mental reward. I was now going to walk 1.2 miles then start running - so I'd only have 6 to do at the end - less than 10K.

I did start running again but I had to stop and start a few times as cramp was threatening in one calf. Then the guy in front of me was stricken down with it. I lightly jogged round the corner and carefully took time to stretch out the calves (whilst trying to avert my eyes as I realised I'd stopped at a sign where about 10 blokes were peeing in the bushes). After that I made it another mile or so running. There I saw TheO (who'd lent her bike to a bloke who'd missed his girlfriend and left his mobile phone with her as collateral - it all worked out, I love how trusting she is; and it often brings out the best in people) and begged for anything with salt in it - anything to help prevent the cramp. I was rewarded with a cream cracker - surprisingly good given the circumstances, a little dry though.

I then ran and walked (in small bursts) to the end. I think (possibly with the help of hindsight) that I could have gone a bit faster. I definitely had the end in mind. I wanted to enjoy it, to savour it, to not have died at 25.5. I took it easy-ish and tried to pace myself so the last mile (or so as it turned out) could be strong. I knew I was going to make it under 5h and this made me a little complacent.

It seemed to work well. When I saw my friends as I entered the race course grounds Blarney yelled: "It's *****... IT'S *****!!!!" And, I swear she was surprised to see me still alive and still running. But the whistling, cheering and general commotion was bloody marvellous.

The last bit was soo long. You saw the 26 mile marker and the run up to the finish just went on and on and on the flags started and you couldn't even see the giant inflatable gateway... it was interminable. I swear as I was running it I would have bet money that I was the only person there, the only one within about 200 yards of anywhere. It was a real shock to see a friends photo and discover that there really were other runners around me. I was in a bubble, I was in my own world. I could hear and see but it was definitely at a distance, separated from reality.

Seriously - who is that person next to me (I'm in black), they've been added in by photoshop (thanks to Badger for the pics!) - there was ONLY ME. On checking the times people finished one second before me, and one second after me ... it's amazing how the mind can block things out.

The end was truly wonderful. I collected my substantial and delightful medal, my banana and some water. I walked the 0.3 miles back to my friends and basked in the glow of finishing anf friendship possibly the finest combo known.

Spartan had finished several hours ago in a fantastic 3.23 - the man is made of some kind of speedy muscle ... or something that sound better and means the same thing. By the time he saw me he looked well rested.

Wheeler and RF had had a much harder time. RF had trained like a mad woman getting all the right things done and then was struck down with gastric-flu and then a hideous cold. How she even survived the whole process is beyond me. She was just delighted for it to be over. Had conditions been perfect (they were really quite windy and cold, followed quickly by windy and boiling) she might have given it a stab but as things were she was content to run with Wheeler, who after a long spell where training was a little neglected set in for some serious mile building only to be scythed down by RFs gastric-flu. They made a bloody amazing showing getting in at 5.15 - and they even managed to get exactly the same time as each other at the end - that takes devotion (or some kind of shared illness).

After relaxing for mere moments we headed back into Edinburgh, creaking and groaning, whilst TheO taxied us around. After depositing Wheeler and RF back at their place we headed for the park and gave our dogs the shortest little walk. A slow head up to Spartan and Blarney's place (with a minimum of cursing as they live on the 3rd floor) and a hot bath followed by a nice lie down with some toast and a Harry Potter book made me feel a little more human.

A good meal out with some new people (v exciting, hardle ever happens) was the perfect end to a really great day. Nice chat nice food. We had to leave a little before desert (why god, why) as time was ticking on and my own bed was calling me.

26.2 DONE


londonjogger said...

Congrats!! :)
Thanks for the great report and well done! Let me know where to order the sports hankies...

warriorwoman said...

Well done!
The medal would remain on my bedpost for ever.

Seshat said...

Ver' ver' proud. You have 5 more days of gloating allowed before I punch you.

; )

The Professor said...

WHOO HOOO!!!! (Insert other suitable over excited exclamations here). :D You ****ing did it and clearly KICKED ARSE! Really, really pleased for you.

Soooo, does this mean you might not be saying "never again" after all?! ;)

P.S. I celebrated for you by eating 3 months of chocolate...

blarney (i think) said...

Still in awe, absolute awe. You motivated me to go out last night but only for 3km you understand. In order to prevent my lardy arse from taking over the world, I've signed up for the 10k in Glasgow at the beginning of September and Colin is mumbling about the half marathon in dundee at the end of June - interested? Go on we'll make a Zola Budd out of you yet"

Anonymous said...

SAM, you done good girl! Well done on an absolutely brilliant result, Edinburgh rocks for sure.....

Ruth said...

So impressed!

SAM said...

Thank you all. I return from Coll after a wonderful trip. I'll be back running and blogging soon.

Still smiling at the thought of 26.2