Two days prior to this race Id received some very exciting news, something I wasn’t expecting at all…….Id won the chance to run in next years London Marathon!!
As someone who doesn’t particularly enjoy road running, doesn’t run much further than 10 miles, and races 2 or 3 times a month, running a marathon isn’t something I’m interested in at all. However, seeing posts on Instagram of people taking part in London earlier this year made me jealous, not for the actual 26 mile run but the atmosphere that surrounds the event and the community…..I wanted to taste that.
I applied for a place through the ballot, knowing the chances we’re slim but just trying my luck anyway. Id resigned to the fact that I wouldn’t get in and forgotten all about it until I started seeing all the disappointed posts on Instagram of the unfortunate people who hadn’t got in this time. It was then when I checked my emails, and was completely shocked when I sore the email saying I had been successful in the ballot! I was speechless and continued to be for days after, I was buzzing with the news and couldn’t stop thinking about it.
Two days on and I’m back in familiar surroundings, stood on the start line of a 10 mile race around a very wet and muddy Peak District, about to spend over an hour slipping and sliding on very boggy terrain and climbing nearly 1400ft…….this couldn’t be any further away from the London Marathon if you tried, but this is me and what I love doing more than anything.
I didn’t feel particularly up for the race beforehand but there’s not many races I do to be honest, I always feel a little tired and unprepared before most races I do. I positioned myself near the front as usual though and was ready to attack it like I attack all my races, and that’s to run hard and keep up with the top 10 if I can.
For the first 1/4 mile it went to plan and I was running with all the usual faces that I compete with, but then I started flagging slightly and dropping off the pace of the others which was worrying so early on. About 2 miles in and I noticed that the runners that I try and keep with and usual spend all race jostling with were gone, already pretty much out of touching distance.
I was running on my own the for a few miles as we made our way up to the summit, just being able to see the pack I wanted to be but knowing I wasn’t going to get them. Then from nowhere, two other runners came past me, which gave me a kick up the arse to push myself more and try and keep with them. For some reason though I had nothing to give on the climbs, and the two runners slowly left me behind. This started playing on my mind and I was beating myself up and starting to lose confidence. My strength in fell running is the downhills, its here where I make up time and positions, but the course doesn’t really have any long downhills so it didn’t play to strengths and I was struggling.
As we came into the last mile we had left the mud and bogs behind and had hit the tarmac, which was the terrain for the final leg back to the finish. I could hear more footsteps behind me which really pushed me on, as after the race I’d had the last thing I wanted was to lose more places. With about 1/2 mile remaining we came on to the main road where the finish was, so it was a fast flat finish. The footsteps I could hear behind me soon started passing me, I could feel my shoulders slump as he went past as I was gutted Id lost another place. I wasn’t having this again though, I was getting that place back!! seeing the finish line about 200 meters ahead I put the afterburners on, stretching the legs and pushing the shoulders back, a glided past him and raced ahead. I just wish Id of had that strength and determination 6 miles ago.
As I came through the finish line I was spent, physically and mentally exhausted. Not for a long time have I had a race like that where I have argued with myself all the way round, putting myself down and getting frustrated. I congratulated all the other runners that had finished in front of me and had our usual analysis of the race for a few minutes whilst we waited for the results to be posted up. To my utter surprise when the results were shown, Id finished 20th and in 1:13:39, which was quite an improvement on last years result at this race. The result made me feel a little better about the race as I was ready to forget about it and wipe it from my memory, although the result was better than last year and what I was expecting, I was still unhappy that I wasn’t further up the field with the runners I’m usually with, and disappointed with how I couldn’t attack the course like I wanted to.
Regardless of this I still enjoyed the race, its a great course and the wet and muddy conditions made it an exciting race, I just need to improve on my hills and get stronger. Its fair to say that I didn’t think about London once on this run, and I haven’t thought about it much since either. I know I’m going to love taking part in the marathon and being involved in it all, but for me its all about fell running and training to get better at this, as this is my domain and what I want to progress at. Time to knuckle down and get stronger for the next one in a couple of weeks.