Rewind one year ago. I was sat on the couch at home stuffing my face with pizza watching the Great North Run and scrolling through Facebook and seeing the wonderful things people were doing at the Hull Marathon. I thought to myself “who is crazy enough to do that?”
The next day I accidently blurted out loud that I would do the marathon for 2016 to raise money for the labour ward at Hull Women & Children’s Hospital as a way to pay them back after they helped my partner and I a few years earlier. I’d only ever done sporadic park runs and wasn’t in shape to run a bath, never mind a marathon.
Fast forward to September 2016. After a year of racing, training and coming up with a million excuses of why I’m not faster, I was stood on the start line of the Hull Marathon with Emma-Jayne. Having been bantering about who was going to win the decider in head to heads (We was at 1-1), I wasn’t feeling very confident having not run over 13miles since March. I’ve never been 1 to get emotional, unless it’s over football (i cried when City beat Bristol at Wembley to get into the premier league), but running through town and the EHH water station, I could feel myself welling up. The support you get from spectators is over-whelming, even more so from the Harriers volunteers.
The loop to East Park and back went without a hitch, steadily paced by Dave Walmsley and Steve Poulsom. I then went in front to get a decent gap for a toilet stop as I didn’t want to have to do a ‘Paula Radcliffe’ at the side of the road. I caught up to Emma Wells and Janet Kay as we trundled up to Park Street. Now technically, bridges over railway lines don’t count as hills, but that’s the 1st sign I had that my knee that I’ve previously damaged at major stone, wasn’t feeling fully healed (excuse #1). The long straight road to Darley’s helped ease my knee off a bit but I knew once road started going uphill, i could be in trouble. Head down and blinkers on, I continued up the hill and over the Humber Bridge. I’ve recently discovered that being a heavier runner has its advantages going downhill, but it didn’t help during the marathon.
The road down to the hairpin and back to bridge passed without incident. Still feeling fairly fresh as my heart rate hadn’t gone over 160, then the return leg of the bridge. Struggling up, words of encouragement from Tim helped, I backed off my already slower pace and was joined again by Dave Walmsley. Mile 18 and it all went wrong. My knee seemed to seize up, and out my sympathy, my right quad decided to do the same. This was going to be a long limp to the finish.
The miles slowly ticked by, after mile 20 I was going to be in unknown territory. 21 mile point and Laura Gunstead shot past me and was gone. Mile 22, 23 more mountains (flyovers) and through onto the docks. With my feet barely coming off the floor, I was trying to pick the smoothest part of the road so I didn’t trip up. Then my 1st tiredness stop. My legs felt like baguettes. No knees were bending. Not long to go now. Start. Stop. Start. Stop. So hard to get going again once u have stopped. Mile 25 and the sight of the Town Crier. Not even sure what little rhyme he said to me as there was no blood in my head to even compute. Then I saw Anthea who got me running again. That was it. No stopping now until the finish. 11 more minutes of pain (id really slowed down by then). 1 last pic and encouragement from Jan and the winding streets to the finish. 800m. 400m. Ooh there’s 3 John Scotts. Looking forward to a pint. Then around the final bend to deafening encouragement from the Harriers in the final few meters. Eyes filling with tears the whole way.
Joining the Red Massive was definitely one of the best ideas I’ve had. I always thought joining a running club would be like running with Mo Farah. Always thought running was an individual sport. I was wrong. Without everyone, I wouldn’t have been able to complete my 1st marathon. When’s marathon #2 😉