Yesterday I learnt that driving 90 minutes home when you’ve finished running a marathon half an hour ago is not a fun process. Not because my legs were too stiff or painful but because I felt quite dreadful for a while. When you push yourself like that you put your body through a lot and use up a lot of energy, yet I don’t know about you but the last thing I want to do when I finish is eat something. So it was I found myself sat in the M5 services just north of Taunton drinking a flat white and trying to force down some food.
Thankfully it worked and I quickly felt well enough to drive but it wasn’t a nice feeling at all. At least though with Taunton marathon being a relatively small event (300 or so runners in the full marathon) it meant there wasn’t a big trek to get to the car or worse a trip on the underground. In fact I had a lovely parking space less than 100m from both the changing area and the start/finish, with the added bonus of being free parking. Not sure London can offer that unless you’re Mo Farah.
The event was well run, no water shortages here, well organised and some tremendous marshals on the course in quite isolated positions. Special mention also to the scout troupe manning one of the sponge stations who were cheering every runner even on the second lap when there were much fewer of us with the half marathoners having finished. Certainly lifted my spirits at quite a tough point.
I was pretty pleased with my time (3hrs 39 mins 34 secs) even if it wasn’t the sub 3.30 I wanted. I was bang on pace wise all the way up to mile 20, hitting those 8 minute miles perfectly and within 30 seconds of target. But then a couple of hills got the better of me and my quads were screaming which meant a couple of short walks and that was it, target gone. I also don’t think I took enough water on, it was relatively warm but I didn’t want to carry a bottle so threw mine away near the water station each time. Hate the idea of throwing onto the verge further down the road so didn’t carry it further but did mean I didn’t drink so much.
The course was also hillier than I expected (hence the screaming quads), I just found someones GPS which suggest 1400 feet of ascent and descent which is a reasonable amount for a road race. In that context my time is not bad, plus I ran the final 10 miles on my own which is tough going on quiet country roads with few spectators.
However despite the event being good I’m not sure I’d go back again. I struggle with road running at the best of times and finding yourself alone on a long, slow hill in the countryside with cars whizzing past (not all roads were shut) isn’t my idea of a fun day out. I may be tempted to do a big city road marathon but otherwise it’s the trails for this runner I think.
The one exception would be to go back for the half marathon, plenty more people doing that so a bit more buzz in the race and the support that comes with it. I did 1hr 45 mins dead for the first lap at a controlled pace so I think could easily take a chunk off that in a hard half marathon even with the hills.