Sunday, April 10, 2011

Dutch goes Dutch for 26.2 miles!

Today I completed my 6th full marathon; this year though it was Rotterdam rather than London!

The start of the race was rather a tense affair as there were no loos in sight and we ended up having to queue in a small MacDonald’s to use their toilets before the race (as did a lot of other runners!!!) - thankfully though MacDonald’s didn’t make us purchase a cheeseburger or similar for the privilege! We then had to find our way to the starting pen which wasn’t sign posted and it was generally just chaotic with no real organisation…not the best way to start a race but thankfully we made it to the start area before the canon went off!

The start was quite crowded as runners tried to find their pace and this proved a little tricky at times but after a few miles things settled and the race opened up a little. The plan was for Charlie, a fellow CYM runner and CYM’s founder, and I to stick together as far as we could and try to maintain a pace of around 8:20 minute/miles for the first half of the race to give us some ‘banked seconds’ to use in the second half. In order for me to challenge my personal best time of 3:47:57 I also needed to aim for a time of around 1:50 for the half and 2:50 for 20 miles…this was the plan! In the back of mind though I knew this would be a tough ask, as it was a really hot and sunny day, not ideal running conditions. However I had nothing to lose and I wanted to give myself a chance of getting a PB and if not, plan B would be to aim for a sub 4 hour finishing time.

The first few miles passed by quickly and we managed to pretty much stick to the timing plan. I never really feel that good for the first few miles of any run (in fact I am often only starting to get into my stride and feeling relaxed and more comfortable at around 10 miles) and today was no exception but I knew that I had strong running in me as the Oakley race a couple of weeks ago had given me that confidence and our timing plan today, which we were sticking to, was re-enforcing this.

Miles 6 to half way passed with relative ease although I did at times feel like the pace was getting the better of me but I knew that I had to continue and stick with it to give myself a chance at a new PB. I kept telling myself, “this is what marathon running is all about, it shouldn’t be easy and today is the day to push myself to my limit”.

Miles 14 to 20 went according to plan and I reached 20 miles in 2 hours 50 minutes and although I felt tired and the heat/sun was taking its toll I was inspired to see the 3:45 Runners World pacers. I was thinking to myself “keep them within sight and a PB is possible”…. However, as I neared the end of mile 21 the purple balloons that they were holding were getting further and further away and even though I tried I wasn’t able to pick up my pace to catch them; I looked at my watch as I completed this mile and realised that this was the first mile that I had let myself go over 9 minute/miles (09:14)…unfortunately I didn’t have anything left in my legs to pick up my pace again so I knew that all I could do now was focus on keeping going and try to not let the pace slip too much more.

Miles 22 to the finish line were the toughest 4 miles I have ever run; not even London last year, where I felt awful in the last few miles, could compare to how I felt today. My fitness was there but my legs had just given up, they felt heavy and were aching like mad. It was really hard mentally at this point too as I just wanted to stop and walk but I also knew that if I was going to finish and get a sub-4 hour time (Plan B was now the main focus) walking wasn’t an option…so I plodded on and just kept telling myself “just keep putting one foot in front of the other and it will soon be over”.

As I ran over the 1000m to go sign painted on the road, I felt some sort of relief that the finish was here and somehow managed to pick up my pace and push for the finish line. As I crossed the line my watch read 3:56:58 – I had made it and I knew that the official time would also knock off a few more seconds.

It’s hard to explain in words the emotion that I felt when I finished today’s race but the fact that I burst into tears as soon as I had finished I think is a sign that this race was one of the hardest things I have ever done but so rewarding too.

This wasn’t the best marathon race for me; the heat was overpowering at times and I think it played a huge factor in everyone’s run. I am, however, delighted to have completed this race and to have got a finishing time of under 4 hours again (my official finishing time is: 3:56:50). It has also made me realise that for future marathons (yes, I have already signed up for my next one! – Robin Hood in September) I need to put more effort into my long runs in training to ensure that the final few miles are not so painful.

I am so pleased to have had the chance to run this marathon and to raise money for my charity (Climb Your Mountain) and it was really nice to experience this marathon event with three CYM friends: Charlie, Stewart and Natasha – thank you all for making it a great weekend and well done on your own marathon achievements :-)

Thank you to all my wonderful friends, colleagues and family for supporting me and sponsoring me; it really is appreciated x

For anyone interested in my route and split times etc., they can be found here:

Next stop the Great Wall of China trek, 30th April…


Anonymous said...

Loved reading this Charlotte.... Or charly ;-) although feel quite nervous now about robin hood but I'm sure with your training I'll get there.

sitting here with a smile on my face for you all knowing how hard it must have been. Feel proud to call you my friend x

Roy said...

Nice report Charlie and a vivid illustration of how those last few miles just have to be conquered somehow.