“I need a new goal” I decided back in March. “I know” I thought to myself “I’ll run a Marathon, except this time, I’ll train properly for it” and thus began a 6 month journey starting back in April, with three 5km runs in a week to start building my running back up from nothing after injury, and despite some bad weeks and a few motivational set backs, I stuck to my plan, building up to the longest of my long runs with a 20 mile slog along the seafront making up the majority of a 50km running week. I then began to taper, it was all going so well, and then I got sick! All in all, during my training I covered just over 742km (461 miles) which is the equivalent of me running to Edinburgh from Hastings and still having a mile to go!
It took me a good few days to come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t well enough to run, but eventually I had to admit to myself that although I could have probably handled a shorter run, and in all honestly could probably have even finished the Marathon itself, it would have been a really bad idea, I would have been in a terrible way afterwards and would it would have taken me forever to get round. I had to call it, and a couple of days before the race was due to take place, I withdrew my place. I have nothing to prove to anyone these days, and there will be other Marathons (if I can be bothered to go through the training again) but my health is more important – I guess I’ve grown up!
Still, I travelled with my husband and our friends Viki and Mick to Bournemouth as planned, for Phil to run the Marathon, and Viki to run the half. We had a lovely evening out the night before after eventually finding an Italian that wasn’t booked up the night before a race and even got a bonus and unexpected quick catch up with an old friend we’ve not seen for ages, before hitting the sack in the creakiest hotel in the world. Viki and Mick were up with the lark for Viki to get to the 8am start of the half, Phil and I having a somewhat more leisurely morning for the 10am Marathon start.
It was bitter sweet watching Phil prepare to race and head to his start pen. When they started the race I actually felt quite choked up and emotional. I waved Phil off and then loaded up my google maps and plotted myself a walk to the finish to find Viki and Mick.
It was clear that the race was well organised at the start, there were plenty of toilets, the pens were well marked and there wasn’t a huge wait for the back pens to cross the start line. The bag drop was easy to use and the course looked to be well marked from a spectators point of view.
I arrived at the finish line (about 2.5 miles from the start) shortly after Viki completed her half marathon, then Viki, Mick and I went and found ourselves seats outside a bar where we could keep ourselves refreshed while watching some of the route and waiting for Phil. Mick estimated when Phil would come past if he was on course for the time he wanted, and he appeared around the pier dead on time looking strong.
We cheered him on as he took off for the final 8 or 9 miles, feeling hopeful that he would be back with us soon for a celebratory drink, however as we sat enjoying the surprisingly warm October sunshine I received a text from Phil saying he had hit the wall and was struggling, and to expect him closer to the 4 hour mark.
At about 10 minuets before we expected Phil back we abandoned our seats at the bar and muscled our way in next to the barrier near the finish and started keeping watch. He came up right when he has said he would, and, managing a smile, fought his way up the final straight to the finish with us cheering him loudly.
Once Phil had collected himself a bit, and collected his bag from the equally well organised bagging area at the finish, and we had helped him get changed and more or less helped him retain his dignity as he did so we then went on the search for food.
After eating we took a slow walk to the hotel where Phil and Viki got themselves cleaned up and we all had a rest before heading out for a celebratory meal and a few drinks. It was a brilliant weekend spent with some of my favourite people, and even the fact that I couldn’t take part only diminished a little of its shine. We are already planning a return trip next year for another weekend of fun and running!
Both Viki and Phil did amazingly well and it was a privilege to be a part of their support crew for the weekend. Bring on Bournemouth 2018!