After running the Brighton marathon in April I was eager to run another – not least because I was a little disappointed with my time of just under 5 hours – holidays, work and injury had all interfered with training. As well as signing up for the 2012 Brighton Marathon, I looked for another race later in the year, settling on Nottingham as it was relatively flat and close to my parent's house.
As usual, training didn't go to plan, culminating in missing my last long run with a spectacular hangover. I had hoped to do the race in under 4½ hours, but that seemed a little ambitious. But, when I thought about it, I realised that it was my legs that slow me down, not my heart and lungs. So, if I could keep up a decent pace, I might be OK. I set off for the race last Sunday with no idea what time to expect.
The first 18 miles were pretty easy. The Nottingham marathon is in two halves. About 10,000 people run a half-marathon through the town. The course splits at 13 miles with about 1,000 people running a full marathon. Coming up to the split point, a woman was cheering the runners, encouraging each one, "Nearly there, nearly there." She saw me approach, with my marathon number. "Not you! Come on, nearly half way!"
The second half was a strange contrast, with a smaller number of runners and the course changing to back streets and tracks. I knew I was fit enough to run 16 miles without a problem; which meant that my race would only really begin about 3 hours in. I stayed strong until about 18 miles and kept running for almost 21 without a break, despite the pain in my feet. It was the lap of the National Watersports Center lake that broke me. Running into the wind here broke me, as it did a lot of other runners, and walkers outnumbered runners on that section.
The last few miles were very hard work. I dragged myself through it, running a little, walking a little. It was at about 23 miles when I decided that I would quit running after the race. Barring a disaster I was on track for a 4½ hour time. I'd proved my point, I could stop with honour.
In the last half-mile I was easily on track for the 4½ hours, but I told myself to run to see if I could lower the personal best that little further. I don't think I've been happier to stop doing something as I was when I crossed the line of the marathon. The pain was impressive, particularly when I finally took the weight off my feet. But, after about ten minutes, I was feeling better and already looking forward to the next marathon (which is the Beachy Head marathon five weeks from today).
My final time was 4 hours, 23 minutes and 49 seconds, which I am very happy with. It was a good race too. I appreciated the support from family and friends. I was also particularly impressed by the marshalls, who must have been out for ages by the time I passed them, yet were still clapping and encouraging the runners. Good work, folks!