Your Stories: Nick's first marathon

A marathon at last...


I guess if you’re going to run any marathon then London is the one to do. I hadn’t really considered running a marathon before being offered the chance to run in London for Team Starfish. I’d run an annual twenty mile race for quite some time and although I occasionally thought about going that bit further I hadn’t really thought seriously about it before.

Fundraising

I was very fortunate in this respect as I had a group of colleagues and parents at school who were incredibly supportive and after a slow start their donations flooded in after Christmas. I didn’t want to pester people too much, but the occasional email with thanks and an update did the trick. The busiest period was definitely in the month or so just before the big day. I was really heartened by the wonderful comments and in particular those that noted what an excellent cause I was running for.

Training

I’m addicted to my Garmin! I’m on my second and have slavishly recorded all my running and swimming activities for eight years. Although I used to just go out and run as fast as I could for as long as I could I now know that isn’t a very good method! For a few years I’ve been more sensible and for the marathon I used a 16 week Level 2 marathon training plan that used my heartrate as the governing factor. This involved about 5 runs a week, one of which was a long one that built up to as many as 24 miles a few weeks before the race. It was tough to fit that around school and family life, especially on the few occasions I had to go out in the snow! Nonetheless, sticking to this as religiously as I could definitely helped and by the time of the race, had it not been for the unseasonal temperature I was heading for a 3:15 target time.

Race Day

I made sure I was well hydrated in the days before, ate sensibly and got to bed earlier than I normally would! I had declared my estimated time as 3:30 so ended up in the front row in Greenwich Park for the start – that’s quite a special feeling. The temperature was really a problem that day and unusually for me I took water at every single water station, drinking half and using half to cool down. The organisers told us in advance not to do that, but changed their advice in the days before given the forecast high temperatures. It is so easy to get carried away and run the first half too fast; I was very wary of this and remained governed by my heart-rate, forcing myself to slow down every time it drifted too high. Consequently I slowed down very little in the second half and was apparently overtaken by only 13 other runners – the post-race data analysis tools on the marathon website were fantastic! On a day when times were expected to be slower than expected I was thrilled to finish in 3:24. There is no doubt the large and continuous crowds were a huge boost and kept the adrenalin pumping throughout.

Post-Race

Joining the Team Starfish post-race pasta party was a great ending to the event. My family had joined the rest of the team to cheer me on as I ran along the Embankment and we reached the venue at almost exactly the same time. Make sure you take advantage of the massage on offer. I loved every moment of the race, even when the legs ached in the final few miles and was definitely bitten by the marathon bug. The following day I signed up for an autumn race in Abingdon and the day after I completed that I signed up for Paris next April after missing out on the London ballot. Good luck to all those of you running for Team Starfish this year; I’ll be cheering you all on.

 

Best wishes,

Nick

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