Chester Marathon 2
By Helen Crossland
After a week of no mojo and then a week of getting back onto the supplements wagon I felt good about Sunday and had no tiredness or weakness leading up to the Chester Marathon weekend. I even felt surprisingly good on Saturday. A lovely cheese and tomato pasta bake for lunch and I’m on the road to Llanarmon-yn-ial to stay at my sister in laws which was a 40 minute drive from Chester. Three and a half hours later and I’m being sat on by a very large and friendly flat coated retriever. A lovely pub dinner and a chat and more cuddles with the dog and it’s bed time. No stress, no sleeplessness – I was out and it felt like a minute later and the alarm was telling me to get my arse out of the lovely warm, cosy, comfortable bed. UGH!!! I was good, I got out of that warm lovely bed and got myself ready and out of the door super on time for a very easy trip to Chester. Pulled into the race course along with loads of other cars and then noticed the temperature 4c BRRRRRRRR!!! My choice of running kit would be just about warm enough but it was an hour or so till the race start so I got myself to the loos and then back in the car to keep warm until 20 minutes before the start where I needed the loos yet again!!
The start was lovely. The race course was a perfect shape to herd a large number of runners through the start tunnel. Whoever the guy was on the speaker was thoroughly enjoying himself which kept the mood cheerful whilst we all waited for the start. Jogging on the spot with goose bumps all over and then we were walking to the start. I kept myself at the back behind the 5hour pace guy. I wasn’t there to rush things, I was there to see what Chester Marathon had to offer and to enjoy the scenery. As always the initial start gets me breathless and feeling like I’m a lump of lard with glass legs about to shatter. Standing in the cold had me all tense and it was taking a bit of time to unravel all those muscles into a relaxing run. The course heads out of the race course the same way I drove in and we all head uphill into Chester town centre cheered on by supporters. The uphill was enough to warm me through and I was passing loads of other runners. I passed the 5 hour pace guy and thought he would catch me up later.
The route then went out of Chester into the surrounding countryside. The whole route was on closed roads which gave me and other runners a lot of room to maneuver and just kept passing runners. I didn’t feel like I was running fast, I was determined to only look at the mileage on my watch to help with fuelling. Beep! Mile 1 rushes past. Wow! I felt good and calm and I was not pushing myself. I took my shot blocks every two miles this time. After my blunder of lack of fuel for Beauty and the Beast marathon I was determined to ride the sugar train for this road marathon. Mile 3 – Beep – Shot block. Mile 5 – Beep – Shot block. This carried on and I kept passing other runners. I was getting a bit worried now. I passed the 4:45 pace team. I passed the 4:30 pace team. Errrrrr has someone given me a different pair of legs to play with? Is this what it feels like to run fast whilst making it look super easy? Keep calm, don’t worry, just keep on going till it stops. It’s not going to last. I kept saying that to myself all the way up to mile 17 when a steep downhill took away my momentum and I lost my stride. I stopped to walk. Ugh! I felt a bit tired and my legs were complaining like crazy about the sudden downhill after such a mild flat course. A little hill climb later and I’m run, walk, run, walk for the rest of the way to the finish.
Each village we passed through had supporters out with kids awaiting high fives and loads of jelly sweets on offer. The drinks stations were very well organised and it was very nice to see only the occasional bottle thrown on the floor. Most runners discarded their bottles responsibly and that made a huge difference around the water stations. No dancing around the deadly water bottles on the floor or getting a water bottle kicked into the back of your legs. Thank you to all those runners who kept the roads clear. The marshals were cheerful and the route was lovely.
The last mile was tough as the route came back into Chester and then along the riverside. I had no idea where I was and couldn’t see any sign of a race course. I kept running that last mile. The only time I really pushed myself throughout that whole race. Then all of a sudden the race course appears and I’m running along the race track to the finish. I couldn’t quite believe the time shown on the clock. 4 hours 50 minutes!! I whooped and jumped up and down and roared. Dang that was a good time. If IF I had kept pushing myself from mile 17 I’m certain I would have been closer to 4 hours 30 minutes. I was super happy with that time. Then I checked my Garmin. 4 hours 46 minutes!! Hell yeah!!!! As the picture shows – courtesy of Chester Marathon Photos – I was very happy about that.
It looks like the Lunchtime Run 5k’s are working but I need to work on refuelling strategies and figure out what I’m missing. Four years later and I’m still trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t. For the rest of October I have a surprise entry into Royal Parks Half Marathon, my own Leighton Ultra and then Stort 30. It’s going to be a high mileage month. Here’s hoping the cold weather will help improve my speed through to next year.