Well, it’s been a week since the Chelmsford Marathon and I am delighted to say I completed it!
After enduring the past few weeks of will I, wont I, after navigating a quadriceps strain only a few weeks out from the race. I can happily say that I completed the Chelmsford Marathon in 4 hours and 5 minutes. Whilst I was slightly over my target time of 4 hours, I’m thrilled as I know I physically couldn’t have done more on the day and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Myself, Charlotte and the two children set off on Saturday, stopping in a local hotel the night before. Fully armed with the compex machine, foam roller and acupuncture the pre-race preparation and fuelling began (of which Georgie was very keen to help with). After a good night’s sleep we woke at 6am and began with the usual pre-run ritual (foam roll, early morning oats and hydration). With a short drive into the town centre, we parked up and began to head towards the runner’s village. As we approached and began to see the other runners gathering in the central park, putting on their numbers and completing their final preparations the nerves began to set in. I checked in and got my runners top before taking the final walk to the town centre towards the start line. A quick top up of my drinks and snacks and then I took my place in the sub-four hour category (unbeknown to me until we started, I’d actually been nudged into the sub-three hour category!).
The race itself was lovely, starting in the town centre, doing a lap of the town before going through the park (past the final finish line) and out into the countryside. We meandered around the country lanes with only undulating hills before heading back into the town centre to cross the finish line.
The gun went off and everyone seemed to set off at a sprinters pace. I tried to keep an eye on my timing but couldn’t help getting caught up in the euphoria of the start, clocking my first 2 kilometres at 5 mins each, well below my average target time of 5 mins and 40 seconds per kilometre. Purposefully slowing down I found my rhythm and settled into an average 5:20-5:30 pace. All started well and I took in the scenery and the atmosphere with the other runners. I had a little mental fatigue at around 24km (15 miles) as expected but found a snack and change in music did the trick, knowing that if I could tick off the kilometres to 30km then I was ¾ of the way through and could enjoy the run back to the finish line.
I reached 30km and then something occurred that I’d never had throughout my training – cramp! I stretched off and walked 50m to settle the muscles and felt good again so ran the rest of the kilometre. Then cramp struck again. Following this little routine I managed to complete the next 8km. Reaching the 38km mark (23.6 miles) the cramp started to worsen and took over my whole leg. I had to adapt and began to run 100m and walk 100m whilst taking onboard as much fluid as possible. Still enjoying the atmosphere and the challenge, I knew I was almost finished and still on for a good time so I ploughed on.
With only 2km to go the cramp was worsening and no matter how much I tried to keep running, my body wasn’t having any of it. Walking as quickly as I could I tried to stretch the muscles out and keep moving, slowly ticking away the metres to the finish line. Getting within 1km from the finish line I checked my time and realised that if I could run the last kilometre I would still make my target of sub 4 hours. Motivated by this I put my head down and began to run, but my body had other ideas. Getting only 50m further on both legs cramped, first my quadriceps, then my hamstrings, glutes and calfs meaning that I had to walk the final kilometre.
As I rounded the corner into the central park and the finish line, I could hear the sound of the tannoy and my watch started to buzz with words of support from Charlotte who had been tracking my whereabouts throughout the race. Knowing my family where ready to wave me over the finish line I was determined to finish the race running. Gritting my teeth I smiled (grimaced) and ran over the finish line high fiving Georgie as I went past. My legs cramped harder than ever before and I hobbled to get my medal, not before a paramedic reminded me to stretch to prevent injury – quite apt for a physio really.
All that was left was a huge amount of food and a sore walk back to the car. All in all a very good day and a fun few months of training.
I have to say a huge thank you to all of the people who sent their support and good luck messages over the weekend. I received the messages on my watch whilst running, which was a very pleasant surprise and very appreciated along the way.
Thank you and on to the next challenge whatever that may be.