Here I go again, another month, another marathon. I just don't seem able to help myself at the moment. It's only 6 weeks since I ran the 50 miler so I've still got a good level of fitness and it seemed a shame to waste it. Which is why when Sharon and Mark (who also ran the 50) from Runners World mentioned that there was a marathon over on the Isle of Thanet it seemed rude not to go along. So that's where I was today.
The event was organised by the Thanet Road Runners and was a coastal route going from Margate to Broadstairs and then back in a figure of eight loop. Mike and I haven't been to Margate for about 7 years - we used to go there each year with the Lady Taverners when we used to take disadvantaged children to Dreamland, a fun fair that was in the centre of Margate. It is also the place where Tracey Emin, the artist, grew up.
Although it is only about 55 miles from where we live, it is a slow route so I had to be up bright and early for the 9:30am start; 5:30am to be precise! I managed to park quite close to the finish line and arrived soon after 9am. The first person I saw was Mark who came over to say 'hi' then I went and said a quick hello to Sharon who was busy at the registration desk. I met Chestfield Bill briefly. It's always nice to put a face to a name that you see on-line.
I was just trying to get my camera out of my back pocket when I managed to detach the zip-pull. This meant that the contents of my pocket could fall out when I was running so I had to try to secure it with a safety pin. As the pocket was in the middle of the back of my shorts this was not easy and there wasn't time to go to the loo to sort it out so I had to contort myself to get the pin in. As I was twisting round in this rather undignified position someone tapped me on the shoulder - it was George, who I'd seen at the 50 miler. Although he had completed the full 50 miles he had never done a 26.2 mile marathon before. Moreover, he only started running last October in order to lose weight (which he most certainly has) so he has done amazingly well.
The upshot of the pocket debacle is that it was too awkward for me to take any photos en-route so the pictorial element is quite limited.
Next person I met was Cliff who was acting as the sweeper, making sure that all the runners at the back were OK. I had seen him at the 50 miler too and it was nice to meet him properly. Unfortunately he won't be able to do the 50 next year as the date has been moved to August and he will be on holiday then. The next time I saw him was towards the end of the race and he was running along with the last person, who was 4 behind me. I'm hoping to see him again at the Beachy Head marathon at the end of October.
The route for the half marathon and full marathon was the same for the first half so there were lots of people around. First of all we headed out along the coast towards Broadstairs. The sea looked amazing with the sun sparkling on the water and little boats bobbing around. The beaches are sandy and there were lots of families out there enjoying themselves. In the distance I could see large ships and there were several jet skis charging backwards and forwards. The coastline has several Bays which you can read about here. At one point someone shouted "Last time I saw you, you were wearing balloons!" and I looked round to see a man I'd seen at the South Downs marathon on my birthday when I'd been carrying my birthday balloon. Sadly, I don't know his name.
Overlooking Viking Bay, Bleak House was the home of Charles Dickens, who visited Broadstairs on many occasions. It was here that he wrote David Copperfield. Towards the 6 mile mark the route moved away from the coastline and went through a couple of the little streets in Broadstairs which was rather quaint. It actually reminded me of Rye and had a lovely feel to it and I'd like to go back and have a proper look. Here's some more information about Broadstairs.
It was very hot for the first half and I slowed my pace accordingly, reaching the halfway mark in 2:30. The route then went out past Margate, again along the coast, past multi-coloured beach huts and many tourists, along a concrete path which I found quite hard on my feet. The other thing I'd found difficult in the earlier section was running on pavements - as we live out in the sticks we don't have them and I found jumping on and off the kerb quite tiring! Then it happened, I lost my mental focus at mile 15 or thereabouts and I really didn't want to continue and I took a walk break. It's the first time I've ever seriously considered not carrying on in a marathon and I had a real struggle to keep going. I have no idea how it crept up on me but it took 3 miles before I regained control and settled back into it. Then it was just a case of keeping going until the end. The marshalls were all lovely and really encouraging. Sometimes we runners forget what an important role they play in our enjoyment of a race.
As the course was a loop I got to see all the faster runners heading for home which was nice. I called out 'well done' to everyone as they went past and most of them reiterated (with the exception of the sub 3 hour runners who made no acknowledgement whatsoever!). At one point I passed Scotty who I haven't seen at a race for several years and we shouted hello to eachother in passing.
Just to prove what a difference mental attitude makes, I'd been dragging my heels for several miles until I got to Mile 25 where there was a hill. I ran up it without hesitating! As I approached the finish line Sharon spotted me and came running over and the little crowd of die-hard supporters gave me lots of applause and cheers. Little things like that really make a difference when you're a slow runner like me and I was really grateful. I'd targetted 5:30 because of the heat and got home in 5:37 so wasn't disappointed. That was my 10th marathon and my 6th this year. Who says you should take it easy when you reach 50!!!!!!!
I really love the colour of this tee shirt. I thought this marathon was excellent value for money and was a fun event. I'm glad I did it as I usually go for off-road marathons, with the exception of London, so it made a pleasant change.
Here's the rather nice medal we received which will be joining my collection.