Before I start this weeks blog I needed to check back on my original post to see if I had failed in one of my challenges and thankfully I find that I have not!
I might have DNF’d in Milton Keynes yesterday but my challenge was to compete not complete a new event each month. That one little letter (l) means I am still on target – I have to find a positive somewhere 🙂
The week leading up to the marathon was a reasonable taper. The toothache which necessitated the antibiotics and painkillers had eased by Wednesday but come Friday I was suffering with severe stomach cramps. We didn’t know whether these were caused by the antibiotics or the painkillers but either way they didn’t get any better over Saturday. By Saturday evening I was not sure whether I was going to be able to run or not. Sunday morning bought the predicted heavy rain and wind, and the usual quandry about what to wear for a marathon in these conditions. Long sleeves, short sleeves, jacket, gillet? I had no option on the leg front, I don’t do shorts except on a very hot day and I hadn’t taken an longs with me so it was the capri leg. Decision made – short sleeves with running club vest over and gillet and I had taken a bin liner to keep some rain off before the start. On the half hour walk to the start we met with Dave, Sherrill, Chris and Janet. Once at the stadium it was busy – everyone trying to get some shelter. I was still unsure about the condidions and Dave Ox gave me a foil blanket to carry “just in case”. Boy, was I glad he did – thanks Dave. In the queue for the portaloos I was absolutely freezing and I was really regretting not taking any gloves with me, Dave tried to buy some from the Mizuno trade stand but surprisingly enough they didn’t have any – plenty of shoes, who buys shoes on the day of a marathon?
There was no loud hooter or anouncement of the race start, just a gradual walk forward to the start line and then into a jog/run. My race started ok, pace was good and for the first 11 miles all was fine – I was right on my target time/pace, the support was excellent, given the conditions, but the rain never seemed to ease up and the wind was a real problem. I kept my bin liner until about mile 6 but by then I was getting fed up with it acting as a sail at times being a real hinderance. Thanks to Alma for the shout out at around 3 miles, and to Dave around 6 and then Chris and Janet a little while later. You supporters all deserve medals for being out there!
Past mile 11 my stomach started and I tried a run/walk strategy but it was having none of it. Whilst the marshalls were excellent in their support they didn’t seem to know anything about first aid/medical cover or about how to pull out of the race and get back to the stadium. The first couple I spoke to just sent me on to the next water station where they thought the first aid probably was – it wasn’t! In fact I didn’t actually see any first aid support at all around the 12 miles that I completed and speaking to others who completed the 26.2 miles they hadn’t seen them either on the whole route. When I finally decided that I was just going to get too cold walking another 14 miles I stopped at a marshall point where there was at least a bus shelter. It took him 4 attempts to phone somebody and to find out about getting me back – this is where I was grateful for the foil blanket that Dave had given me – at least it meant I could wrap myself up a bit and keep some of the wind and rain out but by now I was obviously absolutely soaked. Whilst I was waiting 2 other runners joined me – one asked the marshall to phone her husband to come and pick her up, which he did and the other just wanted to get back to the stadium. We were all shivering and finally the gent gave up and aparantely went to a neaby pub to organise a taxi back. It took 45 minutes from the time the marshall first called for transport to me getting in a car and then a further 40 minutes getting back to the staduim. My problems didn’t stop there, I was abandoned in the car park on the opposite side of the stadium to the baggage trucks and having started to warm up I was out in the wind and rain again to collect my bags, having to wait to cross the path of the finishing runners to get there.
Would I recommend the Milton Keynes Marathon? – on a nice day the the course is probably very nice, traffic free and on paths largely around lakes and parks but probably not wide enough for many more runners (there were only 3800 starters) but the organisers need to sort out quite a few issuses. Apart from medical aid around the course there were no foil blankets for anyone at the finish and I understand there were some serious baggage collection issues. On the first running of any event you expect some teething problems but it just seemed that there were absolutely no contingency plans for the weather that had been expected all week.
On a positive note Chris did a fantastic PB by over 1 hour 20 to come in 4 hours 21 and, I believe, Sherrill and Dave were pleased with their times in what Sherrill described as the hardest marathon she had ever done.
Onward and upward for me – I need to find a marathon where I can achieve my target time by the end of 2012!