It wasn’t Relish Running weather on Sunday. It was pure Centurion weather and as I opened the curtains on Sunday morning I couldn’t wait.
I love running in the rain and whilst this is an ultrarunning perspective, to run a ‘shorter’ distance such as a marathon, which doesn’t have to take into account night legs or change of clothes, running in the rain is fantastic. In its essence, you are never going slow enough to get cold.
After losing my mojo following the Thames Path 100 back in May, I opted to drop the 12 Labours of Hercules and run this race instead, to have a fast run and get my passion back. It didn’t all go to plan, but three days on my legs hurt more than they did after any 100 miler, so I certainly didn’t hold back.
The morning started stressfully as we had some childcare issues, but fortunately a friend stepped in and saved the day. It came very close to me not even making the start line, so once I was running it was great to just be out there at all.
Monty and Luena both finished the kids race, despite the rain and got their medals. They then watched me start the marathon. On the day in addition to the marathon there was also a half, 10k and 5k so the starts happened in waves. Fortunately due to the weather it was great for me that the marathon and half were the first wave to go off together. Personally I would have preferred to have the half go off first as they are naturally quicker, running a shorter distance, but it didn’t cause too many issues.
Now, having watched Mo Farah win the 3000m on Friday night at the anniversary games, I was conscious that there was one guy who paced the first 2000m and then dropped off to let the race unfold. This stuck in my mind and I also thought of the guy who ran Boston this year and trained himself to run at a pace to match the elite East Africans for 5 miles and was leading the Boston Marathon for the first 5k and promised his kids he would, who were watching on TV. I love that story. So, I said to the kids they would see me leading the race as I went out of site.
There is also a slight possibility that I forget I am not very good at this. So I went haring off and found myself in the lead as I hit the first turn. I slowed as I move out of site of the kids, but so did everyone behind me and I found myself still leading at the 2k point. Unexpected. I just need to work out how to maintain this for the next 40k and I’ve got the marathon distance licked. Simples.
So, bearing in mind that I wasn’t just leading the marathon but also the half marathon (and also don’t forget, I am not very good at this), something was quite clearly wrong and unsustainable. I slowed and thankfully started to be passed so I could relax a bit.
The race itself was great fun and I got chatting to Jonathan Carter who is running 48 marathons this year for charity and is the RD of The Fellsman race. I also was passed by Brian Robb after about 10k (how I was in front of him for this long I have no idea) and he went on to finish second with Jonathan in 9th. Both great runs from great blokes.
Since being in London I have been so busy these last few weeks that I knew I didn’t stand a chance at a good race, but wanted to enjoy it most of all. I struggled with the enjoyment but had some good patches and some low patches. Typically the low patches were on the long flat sections, coincidentally where Solange was marshalling, so she saw the lowest ebb of my race, but honestly whilst it was a tough day, it was a good day.
I finished lap one in 12th place and ended the race in 24th, literally walking the last 3k or so. It wasn’t my finest hour but I was only four minutes slower than my 20th place in 2013 and with some very slippery, wet conditions so considering I was not as fit as I would have liked starting this race, I can’t be disappointed with the result. I was 40 minutes behind the winner, so lost 10 minutes per 10k, which really isn’t that bad as, after all, I am not very good at this, but you know what? I love running and I am back. Roll on the Cotswold Way 100.
A huge thanks to Tom Room who is one of the best but lowest key race directors in the UK. If you haven’t run a relish race, whether one of their winter 5 or 10k’s or summer longer races, I can’t rate them highly enough. Also to every single marshall who were out in force on the course- there must have been 100 of them, always smiling despite the weather being horrific to stand still in all day. British races at their finest.