Let’s cut to the chase – 4:40:12. That’s how long it took me to complete the Marathon of the North. Four hours, forty minutes and twelve seconds. That’s not the speediest, but it is 35 minutes faster than the other marathon I ran last year, the Kielder Marathon. So pretty good, eh?
A common question I’ve been asked over the last couple of days is “but did you enjoy it”? Which is a tricky question. I think I go a bit cross eyed when asked, as I give it a bit of thought. As anyone who’s pushed themselves outside their comfort zone knows, enjoyment is a relative thing, often best viewed through the rose-tinted specs of the past. At the end of the marathon, I barely knew my own name, never mind whether I was having a nice time. In retrospect, I think I probably was. It’s trying to explain that bit of it that makes a simple sounding question quite tricky.
Many thanks to Katy for the photo!
See? That’s me – I clearly look like I’m having a good time. It may also be that I’m chuffed I’m approaching the finish line. Or the fact that, after a few miles of rather lacklustre run/walk combo (I went to the toilet at one point – in an official race toilet, not a random bush – mainly because I realised I could stop for a minute) I’d finally run more than a couple of hundred metres in one go.
Psychologically, I reckon that once you decide a bit of a walk is OK, you’re going to be doing a bit more. It happened to me at the 18 mile mark, and I’m still a little confused as to why. Something in my head went twang, and that was it, I was walking. After that, I could manage a bit of a run, then walk for a bit. The marshals were ace, cheering, shouting encouragement, and sometimes telling me get a shift on (a bit of tough love doesn’t go amiss towards the end of the run). Half way through mile 26 mind some person told me to “show a bit of character and get running”. It was not the ideal comment, and barely managed not to be a bit …well… sweary.
In terms of learnings for The Wall in June I reckon I need to get started on the back-to-back long runs – I wasn’t up for another marathon never mind 35 miles on Monday morning. Also, as James “Bananaman” Bailey pointed out, it didn’t do a great deal to improve my eating-on-the-run strategy as I didn’t.
It was a good event, I met up with Jon, my Wall co-conspirator, and we marvelled at just how windy Sunderland had chosen to be that morning. I bumped into Heather from Whitley Bay Parkrun, which is always nice, and I plodded past Weedy Gonzales (I presume that’s his actual given name) who is the originator of the thread for The Wall on the Runner’s World forums which was ace – he was there supporting folk. I failed to see Neil from work, who was there for the 10k – he made it in good time.
As it’s one of Steve Cram’s events, it was as well organised as the Kielder Marathon, which was really well organised. It was also my first go with a silver blanket at the end, which was great fun – nice and warm, and in my befuddled state I got to imagining I was a spaceman – don’t ask why, as I’m not sure, but it was still good fun.
At the end, as I passed the finish line, we walked through the Stadium of Light to pick up our goody bags – I think I took twenty times as long as anyone else, partly because I was a bit confused, partly because I don’t think I’ve been in a football stadium before, and also because I was trying to work my way through the handful of bananas I was passed (well, I was passed one, I blagged the rest) as I entered.
Mmm, spaceman blanket.
Oh yes there were two Bananamen, which was odd, I was lucky to be there while they ran past each other – no fights broke out, I know that much. There were also two bananas running, which added another surreal note to an already odd meeting. I didn’t see any teethmarks.
Boom! Marathon number 2 done.
Lord knows what my hair was up to – it hadn’t cleared that look with me…