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Stirling marathon report

July 9, 2017

I’ve bored myself writing this race report but finally finished it:
Monday 1st May I did my last long run before the marathon, 20 miles. It was horrific and I walked so much of it. Legs were just still too tired from the fling relay I think. I was glad to get to my goal of 100 miles for my 5 longest training runs but that was about all I could take from it! The taper then didn’t go well either as I caught a cold just after that run and didn’t run more than 5 miles at a time before the marathon. 
I did however then manage another parkrun post baby pb at Victoria parkrun the week before the marathon and that gave me a bit more confidence. I ran 24.58 with splits of 7.56, 8.06 and 8.13, average pace 8.04m/m. I’ll certainly be looking to average under 8.00m/m after we come back from holiday. It helped having the in-laws there and wanting to run well in front of them for the first time in a long time! 
I had wavered about entering Stirling marathon as it was Harrison’s first birthday the day before and I knew that would be busy. Preparing for and having 40 odd adults and children in the house on Saturday afternoon was not the best prep for a marathon. Neither was being woken by Harrison at 4.30am on Sunday morning. 5.30am is pretty normal but that was a new low! I know lots of people who have run further and faster a lot sooner after having their babies but I was pleased to be able to say I was running a marathon the day after Harrison turned one. Judging by the proud comments from non-running other new mum friends it was quite impressive to them! 
Yvonne had kindly organised a mini bus to take many of the large GN contingent to the park and ride buses and we met at 6.30am. For a local marathon this seemed an early start! I had trained on porridge for breakfast and running fairly soon afterwards but this then didn’t work for the marathon as there was hours before starting. I had porridge and took a couple of jam sandwiches with me. Neal and Harrison dropped me at the bus and I felt a bit emotional – I’m such a softie! It was good fun being on the bus and I enjoyed chatting to Craig, who was very nervous about doing his first marathon. Due to a mistake by our bus driver on how to get to Stirling we didn’t have much time and we all ended up getting a bit nervous! The queues off the motorway to the park and ride were enormous and a lot of people must have been late. Once we got to Blair Drummond there was quite a walk to the start area and we got there about 8.40 for a 9.00am start. Although I was supposed to be in the first wave I ended up in the last one due to queuing for the toilets. 

Team GNAC


Unfortunately I had my throat problem right from the start as a result of eating a sandwich about an hour before the start. I just felt it had stuck in my throat. I need to rethink breakfast while training so that it is similar to what the race situation will be like. 
Mentally right from the start I found the race difficult too. I kept thinking I couldn’t do it, even though I’d gone up to 22 miles in training and done 3 20 milers. I can’t pinpoint why this was, maybe a combination of factors. One was definitely worrying about my throat problem, which was there but not bad to begin with. 

Seeing the course profile afterwards I would never have said it was as uphill as that to begin with and maybe that took more out of me than I realised. I did enjoy the downhills though! 
The support in Doune, Dunblane and Bridge of Allan was incredible, I loved it. The local people got behind this race so much and it felt really special. My aunt and cousin were at the start of Dunblane and my mum and dad were at the end so it was good to see people I knew there. I had also seen John near the start.

Dunblane


Some people have said they found the first half boring but I thought it was lovely…until you got to Stirling Uni. I hadn’t been looking forward to this part as I knew it what it would be like and after struggling already mentally to here I just fell apart. Also my legs just went completely and I’m not sure why so soon in the race. *edit – I got my period back ten days after the race after almost 2 years without it and I wonder if that was working on me as it would explain the heavy legness so shortly into the race. 
I couldn’t wait to get into Stirling after that loop and was adamant to myself I was pulling out when I got to Neal but it was actually still a long drag to there, a lot of which was on lonely dual carriageway. A lot of people complained about the loops but on reflection I think I would rather have the loops than more of that long, boring road. I jog/walked the whole way into Stirling feeling worse and worse and not able to swallow gels or hardly any water. I did the whole race on one and a bit gels. 
As you came into the busy bit in Stirling centre there was lots of support from people I knew and Gavin suffered the full force of my misery when I went past him, Kirsty and Jess! 
I was then worse when I got to Neal, and Harrison, my mum and dad and what felt like half the club! I was absolutely sobbing and couldn’t face carrying on (although crucially didn’t stop my Garmin) and everyone except Angela was telling me just to stop if I wanted. There was obviously a bit of fight (stubbornness) left in me by not turning my Garmin off but one of the reasons I was not sure about carrying on was that I was going to be so long and everyone, especially Harrison, would be waiting so long. Well, what actually happened that made me feel better about this was that Harrison got really upset because I was really upset and was throwing himself at me for a feed. I sat down for maybe 10 mins to feed him and ate a lot of orange segments that I’d prepped. It made feel much better knowing Harrison had had a feed and so I decided to carry on. I’m pretty sure I’ll be the only person who breastfed during the race, although I certainly hadn’t been planning on it. 

Deciding to carry on!


I actually did okay on the first lap from there (Neal etc weren’t too far from the finish) as I was reassured H was fine and the orange probably gave me a bit of energy, although my throat was really painful and my legs had nothing.


 The last lap was torture though. I must have walked most of it and it wasn’t a pleasant experience or one that I want to repeat! I was not a fan of the little tunnels and the long drag back up towards the centre. George, Karen and Sandra provided shoulders to cry on during the last lap! Of course I sobbed again at the finish, both in relief and in disappointment! I must have lost about 15 mins to crying on people and feeding Harrison but I just didn’t care at that point! 


 I wasn’t really a fan of the organisation at the end – no meet and greet, bad surface for the Pram and ages in the opposite way to where we needed to go to the baggage trucks. Overall though for a first time I think the organisers did well but with some things to work on for next year. There were real highlights for me and the way the locals in the villages and in Stirling got behind the race was amazing! The start in Blair Drummond was pretty cool too, although there are definite things to sort about the start too. 
With the Devils at the beginning of August, (although during the race I was adamant to myself I was pulling out as I just didn’t think I would be able to do it), and going back to work just after that I was certain I wasn’t doing another marathon this year but after that race I’m not sure I can leave it there! So disappointed that that was my return marathon race, never did I think I would do worse than Loch Ness while pregnant! 
Thank you so much to Neal, my mum and dad and all at Giffnock North who came along to lend support! Also Gavin, Kirsty, Terry and Arthur, John, George, Karen, Sandra, Keith and anyone else cheering us on. It was much appreciated even if it didn’t look like it! 

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