Another week, another marathon….
I booked this marathon a long time ago, shortly after the Bristol to Bath marathon in October last year and way before I got my London place. I was looking for a flat, fast course where I could try to get a reasonable time. Bristol to Bath was very hilly and although I did well, I thought I had a better marathon in me.
Roll on a few months and I secured a place in the London marathon and decided to put Milton Keynes out of my mind. Denial, I think they call it 🙂
My recovery this week from London had gone well. Monday to Wednesday walking was… interesting, to say the least. But by Thursday my legs felt fine and we even had a family day out to Tintagel Castle which involved steep hill climbs and numerous cliff edge steps. I figured I would be fine to give MK a go – it was held on the bank holiday Monday so I had an extra day of rest lol! This would also be a “no pressure” race. I was so pleased with my time last week I was happy to plod around and just enjoy the experience.
So… on Sunday afternoon, Heidi and I set off for Milton Keynes in the car. I was a little tired as we had friends from Switzerland staying over the weekend, which meant a few late nights and some socialising 🙂 it was nice to have Heidi with me for the three hour journey. Despite being a bank holiday the traffic was fine and we got to MK and our hotel in good time.
We were staying in a hotel at MK Dons Stadium which is right where the race started and finished. Perfect. I don’t know MK at all and was expecting the stadium to be in the middle of nowhere, but it was surrounded by big retail outlets and loads of restaurants. Heidi and I hit one of them for pre-race steak and chips.
I slept well and as the race wasn’t starting until 10am I didn’t need to get up until 7.30am for my porridge (which I brought with me). In fact the race prep was the same as the week before… same outfit, apart from my singlet, same routine of body glide to stop chaffing and vicks vapour rub on my feet to stop blisters – this works a treat by the way and smells nice! Hair in pigtails and sunglasses on head – keeps my hair off my face, maybe useful if the sun comes out and hey they are pink and look good.
We strolled down to the start at 9.30am. I guess there were around 4000 people doing either the half marathon or the full marathon so it was busy but at such a big venue not crazy crowded. I liked it. I found my starting pen (Green pen at the back) and got in line. Heidi stayed with me until the start to take my sweatshirt and as she was going spend the day with a friend I would see her at the end.
It took around ten minutes to cross the line and I happily chatted to a girl next to me who was doing her first half marathon. The HM and Marathon runners all started together which was nice as there were lots of runners my pace and it was all very jolly.
Then I started – Uh Oh…. nothing hurt but I felt tired…it was going to be a long day. I was in good spirits though. The weather was much better than predicted – turns out I needed my sunglasses for more than just looking good lol! The first fews miles were through the streets of central Milton Keynes, the roads were closed and it felt like a big city marathon. Quite a lot of support too although nothing like London obvioulsy.
At 7 miles the route split and the HM runners (and the pace maker I was following) went one way and the marathon runners another way…out into the country side. The paths were much narrower and the crowds pretty much disappeared although there were still people out clapping and I felt like the support was just enough to give a boost every now and then. There were also people just wandering along the paths with buggys or cycling past. Like I say, very different from London but I quite liked it and have certainly experienced races like this before.
The nice thing was that it was all traffic free, all parkland and very pretty. Milton Keynes is very nice, although not quite as flat as I’d hoped. No major hills but lots of twists and turns and little inclines over bridges. We ran past bubbling streams, canals, big lakes and of course the famous concrete cows – at this point I knew my time would be nothing fancy so I stopped to take a picture.
From 17km to 21km I ran with a lovely guy called Richard. He was running ten marathons over ten weeks. We chatted about our London experience last week and all our crazy events. He really helped keep my pace up at this point and I whizzed through half way in 2.16 – quicker than last week. But I knew I couldn’t keep it up, I felt spent and things were starting to hurt…like my legs….and you need those! I let Richard go and started my run/walk strategy and by strategy I mean I ran until everything hurt too much, then walked. Then I ran until….. you get the picture.
I felt very happy though, just pleased to be out in nice surroundings in surprisingly nice weather and able to get round a 26 mile course. I chatted with a few more people including a couple of young ladies on their third marathon in three weeks…see, there are lots of crazy people out there!!
There were also many people really struggling and pretty miserable, I heard a guy near me at twenty miles go over to a marshal “I can’t carry on, I’m stopping” Race over. I’m very grateful that I was in good spirits all day. I knew I would finish and was happy to get there however I could. Had a fabulous boost at 30km “Go Paula Green” It was my friends Steve and Gill – hurrah!! They had driven over from Coventry to cheer me on. I had arranged to meet them at the end so it was a lovely surprise to see them now and it kept me going for ages. I saw them again at 35km and by then it was not far to go.
As I came back to the stadium I saw Heidi and her friend Hugo – yay, more lovely support. It seemed to take ages to get into the stadium and the finish. Round lots of barriers, which might have been nice with cheering crowds but there weren’t any. Then into the stadium. There were more people here and it was a great place to finish. Final run round the outside of the pitch and over the finish line. 5.08.24 – slower than last week but actually my second fastest marathon so pretty pleased with that.
Staggered over to Heidi, a few snaps, picked up my medal and cool t-shirt and then the very short walk to my hotel and a hot shower. After a quick shower I met up with Steve and Gill for a lovely evening of prosecco and great company.
I am not doing a marathon next week. 21 events done!