Here’s my blog post on how not to prepare to run your first marathon:
With the big goal for the early season being Seville Marathon, perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to run my first ever 26.2 miles at Marriott’s Way Trail Marathon 2018 a week before it! The night before I was a bit worse for wear, recovering from my raucous 22nd birthday on the Friday and I’d kept telling myself: “Jake, you’re not going to take part in Marriott’s Way, that would be stupid”. Turns out I am stupid…
Anyway, I woke up on the Sunday at about 8am, lay in bed for 15 minutes debating whether to run and eventually got changed, went downstairs, googled where the start was and got a lift arriving for 8.45am (15 minutes until the start)... taking only a leftover slice of Izzy’s delicious birthday cake with me!
This lack of preparation was an omen for what was about to come.
At the start line, all the other runners were well-equipped with hydration packs, nutrition and compression clothing! I’d forgotten to bring a bottle (apparently this was a requirement, as mentioned on the email… which I hadn’t read, obviously).
The race kicked off at 9am, I’d managed to just about finish my slice of cake by this point… I got to re-eat it a few more times during the race. Yay. (TOP TIP: Don’t eat a slice of cake as you are walking to the start line!)
I settled into a nice rhythm, but unfortunately I’d also managed to neglect the ‘trail’ aspect of the race. After Drayton about 10km in, tarmac turned to track and my precious, clean, white road flats became no match for the mud! I cut a lonely figure for 25 miles, occasionally bumping into runners who were out on their Sunday morning runs. They made great company to chat to and made the miles fly by! I felt a bit hypo (‘bonky’ for the cyclists amongst you) at halfway, going through in 1.23.47, so I guzzled down the coca-cola at the aid station in Whitwell. The marshals were really helpful, and the aid stations every 7 miles were well-stocked. Thankfully, even though I’d forgotten my bottle, there were cups on hand!
Shortly after halfway, the tell-tale signs of early cramp began to set into the legs but nothing too debilitating at this point.
At 19 miles, I looked on track to run a 2.50. That’s when things really started to go pear-shaped! It all happened pretty quickly. First was the cramp, the quads were the first to really go. A couple of miles later, I hit the wall hard and bonked… So I wolfed down a bit of jam scone I’d stuffed in my jacket pocket! At mile 21, the walk/jog routine started. The walking only made the cramp worse! A more sensible version of me would have decided to call it a day there and then, to prevent further damage before Seville 7 days later. Being hot-headed as I am, I decided to plough on.
In all honesty, it was the most grim 6 miles I’d ever run/walked. At mile 25, I was overtaken by Jay McDonald; who was very kind and offered lots of encouragement. I eventually hobbled across the line in second place in a time of 3.03.15, a minute back from Jay.
Despite being thrown in at the deep end, I’m chuffed with that for my first 26.2 miles. It was a well-organised event too, thanks to all the volunteers! Lots of lessons learned from this race, you can’t underestimate the marathon. 7 days until doing it all again!