A Journey of a 1000 miles starts with a single step

Jersey Marathon Race - Oct 2007
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Headway Jersey

This was to be my first road marathon and I raced it rather than just running it. My previous personal best time (PB) for a marathon was 4:40. I aimed to do it under 4 hours which I was confident that I could do. Under 3:45 would be a good result for me, but what I really wanted to do was 3:30. Which ever one of these times I achieved would improve my PB by a significant amount. I would put most of the improvement down to all my previous marathons having been off-road.

I went to bed early on Saturday night after meeting a few of the other runners from the Runners World forum for a pasta meal in the evening. I slept well and got up at 6:45 and met Donna (RW forum), who was staying in the same hotel, at breakfast. The hotel did not have the porridge that they had assured me would be at breakfast, so I had a bowl of Alpen. There were other runners there as well, but I got the feeling most were relay teams, not many running the full marathon. Donna and I walked down to the marathon start in the cool misty morning. Good temperature for running.

We met a group the Headway members at the start area. Mark one of the Headway coordinators was running the marathon and so was David, one of the Headway members. David had not run a marathon before and had no target time; his aim was just to complete it. I thought a sensible and realistic approach.

I started towards the back of the field of 245 runners who were doing the full marathon, I was in no rush and I feel that passing people is better than starting towards the front and being passed. The relay was to start 1/2 hour after the marathon and I was to see some of the relay runners speeding past me in the second half.

Running in misty St Helier

I kept my pace down in the misty run around the town and up the gradual slope of Waterworks Valley. My time was 42 minutes at the 5 mile point at the top of the valley, so 8 minute miles + 2 minutes, which was the sort of time I though I should be aiming for with the incline. I could catch up the extra 2 minutes on the downhill to the sea front near the end.

Through out the whole run the road crossings and junctions were well marshalled by the Honorary Police and volunteers who did and excellent job.

I was at 10 miles in 82 minutes and 15 miles in 122 minutes so I was maintaining a good pace to hit my target time. Waterworks Valley had been in the shade and nice and cool but the mist had burned off and some sections after that had been a bit sunnier but not enough to be a problem.

I chatted to a few of the other runners who ran with me for a time, but I let them pull away when I couldn't keep up and chat at their pace.

I was drinking water and energy drinks alternately. Water stations had energy drinks and bananas from about 10 miles. At some point before 20 miles I got stomach cramps and my pace dropped off quite alot, this was almost certainly because I had drunk too much energy drink (which I had not used before. Not recommended - to try something new in a race!)

With a drinks bottle around 15 miles

I saw one of the runners who I had been chatting earlier in the run to lying by the road stretching his leg. I saw him later at the finish and he told me that he had run the last 5 miles with a straight leg bacause of cramps..

I had thought that I could make up the 2 minutes over the 8 minute miles I had been doing on the downhill section but after my slow 5 miles the 2 minutes had stretched to 12, which was more that I could try to make up in the last 6 miles.

From the bottom of the hill it was only about 2 1/2 miles along the sea front to the finish around the bay. I avoided looking at where it was; I didn't want to see it not getting any closer. These last few miles were hard, I had been passed by relay runners going fast but now everyone seemed to be going significantly faster than me. I did manage to muster a 'sprint' finish and passed two other runners.

My 'sprint' finish

After finishing I went into the massage tent and got my calves massaged. The massage hurt but it meant that I was able to walk the following day. I also found that I had a blister on the outside of my left foot which I had not felt at all while running, it was only after putting my running shoes back on that I realised it was there.

I finished in 3:43, so under my target time, and under my good time but some way off my ideal of 3:30. The good part of this is that if I do not drink the energy drink which gave me the stomach cramps I will finish closer to 3:30 next time. I was pleased with the way my run had gone, and if I get my breakfast sorted out and don't try energy drinks then I think that 3:30 is a real possibility.