I know I said I was totally done with long distance running after my last marathon in March, but after two weeks- the lure was too strong! I got a super late entry into the Richmond Park marathon on Sunday, and headed there with absolutely no expectations, other than to have a bloody brilliant time after two weeks of racing blues.
I met up with a load of Wmnrun100 ladies and wingmen prior to this race, we caught up and eagerly awaited the start of the race- which was at 9.30am, not 9am as I thought! I also bumped into Jess in the start pen and we chatted before the start, and fell into step with each other, running together for the first 12 miles- chatting the entire way.
My legs felt great, the miles ticked by very quickly, there was a great atmosphere on course, and the route was beautiful- it was my first time in Richmond park-it’s stunning. I had already decided to walk the hills before the race-there was quite a few of them- as I didn’t want my legs to be absolutely trashed. Sensible decision as on Monday I didn’t feel like I had run a marathon at all.
The course was a 12 and a bit mile loop, and two shorter 7ish mile loops. I don’t like laps, and I wasn’t sure about doing a lapped marathon course, but honestly it was a lot of fun, and the beautiful surroundings helped! The course was undulating, but what goes up must come down, so after a little walk up the hills it was nice to try and stretch the legs out on the downhill.
After about 10 miles, I became aware of the booming beats of Coolio’s Gangsters Paradise- guilty pleasure tune- and was like where the hell is that coming from? Shortly after we realised that it was coming from the backpack of Adam-who is running 15 marathons this year for MacMillan, incredible! We fell into step with him and another girl Kate, and we continued our party pace for a few miles, enjoying the tunes-I think people thought we were absolutely nuts! I was massively enjoying myself- and wished I could have enjoyed the tunes later on in the race!
I was pleased that my comfortable chatting pace was averaging around 9.30min miles, considering I had walked a few hills we were going at a decent clip. Those 12 miles were probably my most enjoyable racing miles ever, and I thought this was going to be my favourite race ever!
Coming up to the end of the first lap my stomach was feeling a little unsettled, and I decided to take a toilet break at HQ, I took a little detour off route to get to the toilets- there were no portaloos in the pace only the toilets at various points in the park. I headed back onto course, and now I was alone, but worse than that, I was feeling really really bad.
I literally have no idea what happened, was I under fueled, over fueled, under hydrated, over hydrated, was it the heat-it was sooooo hot- or a combination of things, I’ll never know, all I know is that I didn’t think I would be able to get round the course. I stopped 8 times from mile 14 onwards, with two more toilet breaks, and a lot of stopping and walking breaks whenever the stomach cramps got too much to carry on.
This is way too much TMI, but when I got about half way round the second lap, I had no idea how I was going to make it back to HQ to the toilet, so I was keeping an eye out for some dense shrubbery for a while, thankfully when I got to about the 16 mile point, one of the marshals told me where there were some toilets, so I took another little detour to find them.
I was counting down the miles, by how far until I could get to the next toilets. At 19 miles, I honestly thought I was going to drop out, but then decided that I knew where the toilets were on course, and it was only another 7 miles, so I could walk it in if I had to.
I decided I had to run whenever I was feeling remotely OK, and then stop and sort of hunch over and walk a bit when I wasn’t. I chatted to a lot of people on course- and probably told way too many of them about my situation- TMI. I was feeling incredibly spacey, and my legs were feeling like jelly. I’ve never felt such a strange combination of stomach pain, nausea, and hunger at the same time.
At about mile 23 I could see Jess ahead of me, I caught up to her and her brother who had joined on the second lap, and she had started to have a bit of a rough time herself with a back spasm and a long period of walking. I managed to run the whole last 2 miles without stopping alongside them, as I just wanted to be done. We finished as we had started-together. I was shocked that to finish in 4.32.59, I thought I was going to be out there for a lot longer with my dodgy stomach.
I cannot tell you how delighted I was to be done. I absolutely loved the race, I did not enjoy feeling like I did for 2hr30mins. I think it says a lot about the race, that I could call this a really enjoyable race, despite feeling horrible for over half of it! I actually think if I had felt as good as I did for the first 12 miles I would have broken my PB, which totally was not a goal/aim considering the elevation, taking it easy and walking the hills! It was the perfect first 12 miles, but battling through the rest was another one for the mental strength bank.
The event was very well organised, honestly I am so over big races now-smaller ones like this are the way to go. The park was very busy with cyclists, walkers and other runners, and the marshals did a freaking incredible job of watching out for us and helping us get across the roads- top top marks guys! The aid stations were well stocked, and Richmond park-thankfully-has ample amounts of toilets along the route. I’m already considering doing this event next year again, but hoping to never ever feel like that in a race/training run again.
I’ve been having GI issues a lot lately, and it is something I need to figure out, I’m not sure if it’s too much of a certain food, the heat, running just generally irritating my GI tract or some sort of change to the mucosal layer of the gut, it’s really unpleasant, and annoyingly I don’t know when it’s going to happen, some days are fine and others I feel like this. I’ll be trying a few things to see if I can prevent this from happening again, but my suspicions are that the long distance running is to blame, so I’m not entirely sure what to do.
I had had a pretty dark few weeks with running, I wasn’t enjoying the racing, finding my motivation for training waning, but I absolutely found my running mojo in this race- it was just hiding on the trails!