The Viking Coastal marathon
Saturday 4th June
Minnis Bay, Birchington.
To Pb or not Pb, that is the question.
After last week's undulating run and orienteering experience with the 50km trail race, I was looking forward to what promised to be an easy run.
The Viking Coastal marathon seemed like a dream, from the description on the Saxon shore website. Flat, fast and scenic, which sounded too good to be true! I imagined myself sprinting along the beautiful Kent coast route and gaining a new PB of 4 hours! Ha, ha, how wrong could I be!
It was a misty, murky morning down at Minnis Bay, slightly chilly but, as described pancake flat. The view was less than scenic, as the gloomy sky merged with the grey sea.
The route was an out and back loop to Reculver Towers, 3.25miles each way, repeated 4 times. After a cheerful welcome from Traviss and Rachel, the race organisers, I pinned my number on and got my place at the start. I cued up some music and we were off! I had already heard rumours about the mystic Reculver Towers that never seemed to get any closer and remembering the horrendous Dymchurch marathon back in Nov I tried to focus on my music and not the landscape or the towers of doom.
Soon enough I had completed lap 1 (6.58 miles) and I felt strong at my 9.30 min pace, I continued with the same pace for lap 2 and came in at 2.04 for 13 miles. At this pace I would definitely get a shiny new PB, I smiled to myself thinking how great that would be and how invincible I had become! I was on lap 3, full of determination, when my mind started to play tricks on me. I was obsessing about my new PB, pace, stamina and looking at my watch every 10 seconds! I started to worry about everything, so I tried to put my brain in the bin, less stress more zen like running, but by mile 15 I was seriously losing the plot! The flat boring route was featureless and barren and then at mile 18 my body decided to rebel against me. It started with stomach cramps and I couldn’t understand why, as I was fuelling and hydrating as normal but something definitely wasn’t right. I got back to HQ feeling most peculiar, but determined to carry on I picked up some more food and a bottle of diluted coke and water to take with me.
|The illusive Reculver Towers|
I decided to walk run the last lap, Rachel was full of encouragement when I left and said I had plenty of time to get there and back. So off I walked, this proved to be even more boring than before, especially on the flat, featureless sea/landscape that lay in front of me. The sun had stayed firmly behind the thick grey cloud and there was not even a breeze off the sea. I was trying to enjoy my walk, listening and singing along to Florence and the Machine, but every time I decided I felt a bit better and tried to run I felt sick. My body temperature rose and my heart started racing! My stomach was still cramping and I wasn’t entirely sure if I was going to throw up or poop my pants, or both! I kept pushing on and I felt such relief that I nearly cried as I turned back from the towers one last time and started the return journey back to HQ.
|Not enjoying the miles.|
I received lots of support and encouragement from my fellow runners and I really did try to run the last 400m, but I just couldn’t keep it going. I crossed the finish line at 5.23 hours, not a disaster, but I was in a really bad way. I could barely walk or speak. I am ever so grateful to Traviss and Rachel for their kind words and of course the awesome medal and goody bag, but instead of staying to chat I just gathered all my stuff together and shuffled off quietly. My first stop was the toilet and my second stop was to wait for my lift to turn up. I sat on the grass, head on my knees, sobbing my heart out and drifting in and out of sleep.
By the time my mum arrived I was a snotty, dribbling mess, not quite the image of a chiseled, healthy, endurance runner that I was going for! I got into the car and somehow managed the 20 min drive back to mum's house without throwing up! Once at Mum's house I literally crashed out, into bed, fully clothed. I started to hallucinate spiders all over the bed, my legs were twitching and my stomach was still cramping. Mum kept an eye on me and every 30 mins came up with food and drink and asked if I was still alive to which I managed a groan or a grunt as a reply!
After several hours of delirium, tummy ache and mad spider hallucinations, Caz turned up. She got me washed and dressed and I thought I was feeling a little better, however the roast dinner that was put before me was left untouched, my mums infamous roast potatoes were left uneaten, as I had to crawl back upstairs to the bathroom. Eventually Caz got me back in the car and to our house, I went straight to bed. Not good, I had burned approx 3000 calories from running and as yet had not managed to put any fuel back in. I woke at 4am and drank a glass of diarlyte, then at 5.30am I got up and decided to chance a piece of toast and a cup of tea, more tummy pain followed, but I grabbed a hot water bottle and snuggled with my cat on the sofa for a few hours.
By 8am I was feeling a slightly better and started to eat little and often with lots of hydration drinks. Remarkably my legs were feeling fine, no aches or pains and gradually throughout the day I began to feel normal.
|I worked so hard fro this one!|
So the burning question is, why did this happen and how can I prevent it from happening again?
Exhaustion and not enough recovery between races - only 6 days between Ultra and marathon.
I Need to eat, drink and sleep more, if running long distant every weekend.
Start at a slower pace, no racing out at half marathon pace.
Walk/run earlier in race not as a last resort.
Give my body time to get used to multiple marathons.
Always sterilise bladder for hydration pack.
Take antibac gel to wash hands with.
Lots to take into account and review before the next marathon on 25th June, I have already consulted my coach, my nutritionist and a Reiki master to help me make the necessary changes to my diet, lifestyle and training. Writing about my racing experience always help me dissect the area’s that worked well or didn’t work at all and I strive to learn by my mistakes.
I won’t let it put me off running marathons, as you know I’m one determined runner on a mission and this one bad marathon is just a minor blip in the bigger picture of 50 before 50.
This was my 2nd marathon of 10 for Dame Kelly Holmes. I am fundraising for 5 charities over the next 8 months, to help raise a total of £250,000. The charities are Myeloma Uk, Mind UK, Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, The Pickering Trust and The Hospice in the Weald.
Please see link below to visit my page and support/donate.