After a few fairly solid marathon performances this year in Paris, Geneva and then the Kent Roadrunner, many an epic adventure and a new goal, a new marathon PB was not exactly what I had in mind for Bournemouth.
After all, it was only a week after Ealing Half, and while I had taken it easy, I still ran a few distance training runs (between 13-16 miles a pop) in the week. I hadn’t tapered or followed any specific marathon training plan. My left hamstring was also giving me a bit of gip after a sprint session on the Monday. With all this in mind, completing the marathon in a 3:30 pace and feeling strong afterwards was the aim. Nothing more (and nothing less).
Let’s just say that when I finally finished with my legs tired but not crucified and received the text message that I ran the Bournemouth Marathon in 3:19:47, my response was a slightly more X-rated version of “oh my goodness, how on earth did I manage to knock a solid 5 minutes off my PB.” I still have no idea. Instead of trying to work out the secret to my new PB as I’m still trying to get my head around it, here’s what I did differently at the Bournemouth Marathon 2014.
Hooked up with pacing buddies
While I love running naked (sans gadgets and gizmos), it can sometimes be tricky to establish a pace that you can keep for the entire length of a marathon. In the past, I have been known to totally blitz the first half only to feel like an idiot when my legs are crying for “no more” at mile 23. So instead of getting carried away with the crowd and trying to “chick” every bearded man I saw (don’t they get extra hot with all that facial hair?), I found myself a pair of pacing buddies for the first 15 miles of the race. We played a game of cat and mouse at the start but once we’d established a pace we were all comfortable with, it was a rather pleasant way to spend half a marathon.
Embraced a little runchat
As well as running alongside my two pacing buddies, I started chatting about random race-related stuff. The bloke happened to have run a sub-3:20 marathon in Oslo two weeks before and a sub-3:25 marathon in Berlin (a week before) so he was pretty much at the extreme end of the running-crazy scale AND absolutely lovely with it. We chatted from about mile 9 to mile 14 and I have to say the distance flew by. I was in the sunshine, chinwagging about a subject that I happen to have a massive interest in and sustaining a relatively quick pace without even thinking about it.
Played spot and kiss (chase) your boyfriend
Part of the Bournemouth Marathon route takes you on a massive loop along the seafront, which means spectators have the opportunity to see you twice en route. Unbeknown to me, my partner (in crime) had decided to stand at a point where I could see and hear him as I began this 2ish- mile circular path. I would also pass him once the loop was completed before heading up the infamous Bournemouth hill towards Poole and back along the seafront to the finish. I was at the stage where I was ready to run ahead of my newfound running friends and then I heard a “Go Bec” from the boyfriend. As much as he’s not the biggest fan of my running and yet he was there, cheering me on. I thought that deserves an embarrassing kiss. And this (soppy as it sounds) spurred me on to run two miles, maintaining my pace, with the main aim to surprise him with a sweaty smacker on the lips. NICE. It’s these little games that keep you going and make races so much more fun.
Encouraged the crowds whooping for “the lady”
She’s a lady..uh-oh-oh..she’s a lady, who happens to run, and sometimes also happens to be upfront with the boys. While I still find it rather odd that people point out that I have boobs and different bits to most of the other competitors I am running with, in Bournemouth it was kinda cool. There were a couple of groups of women who went absolutely crazy when they saw a female pass. Shouting at the top of their voices “she’s nailed it, nailed it, nailed it”. Oh yes girlfriends, I’m nailing it for you – I thought as I continued to run past beach huts and the blokes. I’m loving the sunshine, running along the beach and you guys toasting us as you tuck into your beach picnics. And as if I was a comedy warm-up act, I started waving my arms around, urging people to clap at all the runners making their way past.
Sang (out loud)
I confess, I’m one of those runners who sings tunelessly along to the music blaring away on their iPod as they run. When I say sing, I mean perhaps grunts a few words out loud. Anyhow, it keeps me going And ironically, during my final few miles of the Bournemouth, I was listening to the rather aptly named “I’d rather walk than run” by Herman Dune and several Belle & Sebastian tracks. Not exactly what you’d find on one of those glossy high-octane running mixes, but the action of mouthing away the words as I entered the final stretch kept me going.
Before the race, I was worried about my hamstring. Would it last the full distance? Would my legs cramp up? Would I have to suffer in pain? It was almost as if I was waiting for the inevitable to happen around mile 23. It was going to hurt and I was ready, prepared and waiting for the marathon wall. When I hit the 23 mile point, however, I was pleasantly surprised. My legs were tired but I felt like I could keep going and going and going. The week before at the Ealing Half Marathon, I had hated the final 800m and I struggled. The following week in Bournemouth at a time when I had almost run twice the distance, I still felt strong. And looking at my half marathon split, I hadn’t lost my pace massively either (my half marathon time was 1:39:05 versus a full marathon time of 3:19:47 – just over a minute and a half difference).
I guess what the Bournemouth Marathon 2014 did teach me was if you relax and enjoy the ride, you may surprise yourself.