Yorkshire marathon #3

Marathon number 5, Yorkshire marathon number 3. Done. It was not a certainty. You know me: before every big race I’m convinced I can’t run, haven’t done enough training, am too fat. I’m definitely overweight at the moment, as my poor chafed thighs keep reminding me, but it seems I can run and have done enough training.

I didn’t feel too stressed about Yorkshire but my brain told me different, concocting some interesting stress dreams where I could never find my running shoes, and had to watch the marathon set off without me. The best was the one where I had to tie my running shoes with sewing thread. Perhaps my awake calmness was simply denial. I remember standing in the shower on marathon morning and thinking, I have absolutely no idea how I’m going to run 26.2 miles. And also, I didn’t really want to. I felt like I couldn’t be bothered.

But I did bother, and I am glad I did. FRB arrived early, I was mostly ready, and we set off to York, along an A64 busy with what we assumed was marathon traffic. To the university, then to the VIP parking, as the marathon organisers Run for All had kindly given me another VIP place. FRB had one too as he was going to be writing something as well. Back, then, to the Van Brugh building and the VIP room with its pastries and coffee. We sat on a table with a woman from another Leeds running club who was not feeling too serene. I’m being polite: she seemed terrified. She’d run-walked London but this was her first running marathon, and she’d had a few years of injury. I tried to calm her by saying there was no point trying to calm down because she would be terrified right up to the start, and as soon as she started running, she’d be fine. I next saw her storming past me on one of the switchbacks, and thought, she looks alright.

We set off to the start at 9 for a 9.30 race start. No way was I going to start ahead of the Kenyans again this year. There was no chance of that as there were no Kenyans anyway, but once we got to zone 1, I sidled back to the back end of zone 2 where I belong. It was cool and perhaps even chilly, but that was perfect. The forecast was 13 degrees with some sun but not too much and that was also perfect. A warm-up, and off we went. And then I realised that I hadn’t expended all the liquid I should have done and spent a very uncomfortable first mile with my leaky bladder, until I got to the first set of portaloos. Until you have peed into your socks, you won’t understand what a real leaky bladder is. I wasn’t the only one, though, and had to wait five minutes in a queue. At this point, I had to realise that although I’d said to myself and to FRB that I wasn’t going for a PB, in my head I was. That is daft: I’d run a six hour race a month earlier, my regular running pace is about a minute slower these days than last year. Running 8.30 minute miles for 26.2 miles, which was what I would have to do to beat 3:58, was not going to happen. I hoped I’d be able to stick to 9.15 or so and perhaps get in under 4.15. Those five minutes in a toilet queue made that unlikely, though they did eject me back into the race at about the right place in the field.

The first couple of miles of the marathon are wonderful in two ways: there’s a downhill, and there is York Minster. As has happened each year, the Minster was pealing its bells, whether for Sunday service or for us. I choose to think it was for us. The sun was shining, there were cheerful crowds on the streets, and the bells were ringing. It was a moment of pure joy.



After that, I broke the run up into chunks, trying to come up with something to look forward to in each chunk, such as the vicar in Stockon-on-the-forest with his striped scarf, high-fiving hand and “God bless you, good running.” He must say that, and high-five people, about three thousand times. God bless him. I couldn’t remember how far Stockton was, but I just kept heading for it (it’s at mile 6). After the first few miles, the long quiet stretches began. Long long roads and lanes bordered by fields; not many supporters, no villages. These can be difficult, unless you can daydream. I can’t remember what I thought about only that I remember thinking, I must remember this. It probably included:

  • How on earth is that woman even running when her legs are kicking out at 90 degree angles in opposite directions? And faster than me?
  • Why do people buy Karrimor running kit when it’s shit and baggy?
  • Good form.
  • Get a better sports bra.
  • Stop heavy breathing behind me.
  • Oh god, stop hacking up phlegm and spitting.

There are lots of reasons to speed up but a spitter in your wake is a major one. Mind you, they probably thought the same about my snot-rocketing. This is a fell running technique which involves holding one nostril and power-emptying the other. It’s not very pleasant but it’s essential on cold hillsides. I’m not sure it’s acceptable during a genteel road race but I did it anyway and without warning either. I did look behind me first. I’m not a philistine.

At York Minster, I’d said to a woman next me, “this is my favourite bit.” She said, “The finish is my favourite bit.” She had blonde plaits – which seem to be the default running hairstyle for women with long hair – and bright pink socks, and turned out to be my accidental pacer for the first ten miles. It’s risky choosing an informal pacer, as you have no idea what they are aiming for, nor whether they are consistent. But she seemed very consistent, so I kept her in sight until I overtook her and didn’t see her again. After her, I chose a Vegan Runner with bright green socks, but at mile 17 she started walking too.

I felt good. I had eaten enough – though my stomach was rumbling after the first few miles – and I felt properly hydrated and nourished. It’s been so long since I’ve done a long road race that I wasn’t sure what to carry. There were enough water stations (every 3 miles) that I didn’t need a bladder, but I did need gels and chafing cream, especially as it turns out I’d left my favourite Inov-8 shorts, which are long enough to stop chafing, in France. So I decided to do several stupid things: I ran in Brooks Glycerin 7s, which I’d hardly done any training in, but my feet get so battered in PureFlow, I wanted more cushioning. This worked out partly alright: my feet were cushioned. But both were blistered and my feet still felt battered. It’s not down to the shoe though: I realise I grip my toes when I run, which is daft and painful. Back to the running form doctor.

I’d said to FRB that my current steady pace is 9.15-9.20 and so it turned out. On then, through villages and long quiet stretches. There, again, was the bagpipe band at the corner where I remember a huge group of students yelling Oggy oggy oggy during the year of the fog (2014), so that their voices trailed behind you with the mist. There was Vicar Terry. After that I don’t remember much until the first switchback, which puzzled me. I knew there was a long, long switchback coming at mile 18 or so (actually 16-20), but I’d forgotten this one. I think it was this one that had a singing Elvis at the end, which helped. It was also nice to see fellow Harriers running up the other side. (FRB was too quick.) There were half a dozen of us doing the race, all in club vests. I mention that because I do feel slightly odd running a marathon in a club vest, when there is now huge unspoken pressure to run for charity. But I think if you run for charity it must be something that you find very, very difficult. I don’t feel justified in asking for people’s money otherwise, and marathons, though they are not easy, are not challenge enough for me to be able to ask for money. No, I’m not going to start running with a fridge. I’ll think of something.

There must have been things I thought about up until mile 16, but I can’t remember them. I know that I wished for company, and tried to talk to a few people along the way but with not much success. I passed one woman who was wearing in some marvellous socks, and complimented her on them. I told her I’d cut the feet off mine, just making conversation, and she said, “Oh, bless you.” Which is odd. I had another conversation when I interjected in a conversation behind me about the Three Peaks. Of course my ears prick up at that. A man was telling a woman that there was a Three Peaks Challenge, and I told him there was a race too, and that it was quicker than walking.

I didn’t promise you intellectual heights. This was marathon chat.

But mostly, I was on my own. Afterwards, FRB told me he had run three-quarters of the way with club-mates, and that the only stretch he’d run on his own was the hardest. I don’t like running alone in a road marathon, and I don’t find big city marathons very friendly. Probably that’s because people are digging in and with better things to do than chat to me. But 4.5 hours of keeping yourself entertained is a long 4.5 hours. Of course the difference in fell running in the size of the field and the number of supporters. In fell running you get camaraderie from your fellow runners. In big marathons, it comes from supporters. And they were indeed great, from the little ginger lad on his knees with a tupperware box on his head, repeating in sing-song tones, “Sweets…for energy! Sweets…for energy!” to the little girl who had clasped a sweet in her hand and had her hand stuck out, so I took the sweet and then wondered whether I’d stolen it.

I high-fived as many children as I could. Later, I was interviewed by a woman and a cameraman, and I must have been high on endorphins then because I emitted a comment of extreme cheesiness. Something like high-fiving a child is like fairy dust: each one makes you run faster. Just writing that makes my Yorkshire plain-speaking hackles rise. But it’s true that anything that is stimulation really helps, and high-fiving children: running over to that side of the road, making human contact, is stimulation. Humans need stimulation, even while running a very long distance, as this excellent piece by George Monbiot demonstrates.

My next dose of stimulation was going to be seeing Anne and Noel at mile 18. This switchback is long, long and long. Anne was at the beginning of it, taking photos and hugging the running Minion (you know your place in the universe when a child who is about to cheer you on suddenly gazes away from you and says, “there’s a Minion!). Here is her report, and here is that scene-stealing Minion.



Here also is Anne’s picture of me. No flailing feet, which is good, though I’m not surprised my thighs were chafing. (I’m trying a low-carb, high-fat diet to get rid of the evidence of too much cake, wine, and HRT.). But I’m smiling.



I said hello to my fellow Harriers again, and thought a couple of them were looking a little less serene. Later, I overtook two of them, which was unexpected. “I’m goosed,” said Chris, when I passed. I think I must have been flying on the flat Coke which was the one thing I’d made sure to carry. By now “mile 18” and “flat Coke” are indelibly paired in my head. At this point, my pace dropped to ten minute miles and never picked up again. But I kept going, because my next target was my brother Nick and niece Alice – “we are a small but perfectly formed welcoming committee” – in Osbaldwick, at mile 24. Before that, we had another long quiet stretch which was the most difficult of the lot. Then to Murton, where there was another pipe band in full bearskin hats and kilts. They looked amazing, and I thought, the least I can do to show my appreciation is do a wee jig, so I did, doing two full pirouettes, persuading a fellow runner to do one with me, and not falling over, although my steering by then was very shaky. The supporters applauded and I think the conductor gave me a wink or a nod. Stimulus, again. It was odd that I felt so good. I’d overtaken lots of people walking, but I kept going. I think, again, it was about mental strength. I need to remind myself that I’ve trained my brain pretty well and to acknowledge it to myself. As my friend Rachael says, you can throw flowers at yourself now and then.

I poured a bottle of water over my head as we got into Osbaldwick. It had in fact become uncomfortably warm for the previous few miles, and I didn’t want to stink too much. There were loads of people out and about, and every cheer and clap was, as ever, a really important boost. If you were out supporting last Sunday, THANK YOU. I am extremely grateful. It really, really helps. Thank you too for all the uplifting music. To the people at about mile 20 who were playing Chariots of Fire, though, you know that that just makes everyone want to run in slow motion?

So, to my small but perfectly formed welcoming committee. I forced a hug upon Alice, who gamely accepted it. I love this photo:



Then another stretch along a road, along another road, to the Shell garage which now, belatedly, I recognised as being the same Shell garage we’d run past in the first mile, and at which I had gazed wistfully in the hope that it had a toilet. I knew that there was a hill coming and then the finish. Probably I could have run faster, but I liked the pace I was doing, because I could still talk. My feet hurt, but nothing else had gone wrong. Up the hill, which apparently some people crawl up but which if you live in Leeds is nowt, then along to the finish. I managed a sprint for the final 100 metres, and tried to chivvy a young woman along with me, but she didn’t follow, so I crossed the line and had no idea what time I’d done. I hadn’t noted the clock time when I crossed the start; I’d lost time when I’d gone to the toilet; and I’d stupidly stopped my watch. So I had no idea. And at that point, I didn’t much mind. (It was 4:18.)

I took water from the army lads handing it out, saying to one, “I bet you could run that in full kit,” and the lad laughed. I got my t-shirt, my medal, and hobbled back to the VIP lounge, where FRB was finishing some soup. He’d done 3.36 which I think is excellent, but he wanted to get under 3.30 so he’ll just have to do another road marathon. I urgently removed my shoes and apologised to my blistered feet. And once I removed my bum bag, I realised that my back was severely bruised and swollen. Stupid me for running in untested kit: I should have worn my fell waist pack instead, rather than digging out a smaller waist-pack that I never use and thinking, “that will do.”

I say frequently that I’m not going to do long road races any more. But I have much affection for the Yorkshire marathon. It’s only in its fourth year, it’s well organised, there is great support, and how many other races can provide something that looks like York Minster, ringing its bells for you? So I’ll be back. Maybe. Probably.


Yorkshireman off-road marathon

They call it YORM. It is an acronym I won’t forget, however ugly it is, because for 26.3 miles, every so often there was another red YORM sticker on a wall or a fence post or on the ground. The route was so well stickered I wondered if I could have got round without recce-ing, without going over the map and the narrative instructions a dozen times, trying desperately to embed them in my brain, and asking FRB to test me the day before as we lay abed, fiercely tapering by doing nothing, and I went through the whole route. He gave me a score of 75% and looked impressed. That, from a human sat-nav, is fine with me.

I wasn’t nervous. Perhaps because this was my fourth marathon (though at one point, with my menopausal brain fog still rearing up now and then, I couldn’t remember how many I’d done). Perhaps because I don’t aspire to be fast these days and we weren’t going for a particular time. We, because I was running as a pair with Sara from Pudsey Pacers. I’d asked her a while ago, once I’d found out that YORM allowed pairs to run together. I knew she’d be great company, and we are currently fairly well matched on pace. We’ve had some lovely recces together, which I will remember fondly, not least for the fact that we discovered Asa Nicholson’s bakery and cafe in Denholme, and would stock up there with flapjack and bread and pork pies and coffee, and drink coffee and flapjack before setting off. The young woman serving us was a torrent of loveliness and positive energy, and buying a block of fresh yeast from her – another amazing and valuable discovery – was the equivalent of several energy gels. She has just started running, and runs with a women’s running group in Denholme. We said, have you been on the moors yet? She said no, that was beyond her, and we told her firmly otherwise, waving up at the beautiful moorland that we could see out of the bakery window, so I hope she gets up there soon.

I felt confident about knowing the route, which is fortunate, as several weeks after the marathon, I discovered that in my race kit I’d packed the narrative instructions for Rombald Stride instead. FRB had written us narrative instructions, as the assistance from Keighley Harriers was, er, minimal, consisting of a pdf of the route map which I’d had to ask for. Charlie, the organiser, said they would be selling them on race day but that’s not much use for recces. So FRB came to the rescue, except he had based the instructions on his memory of running the Yorkshireman in 2013, as well as OS, so there were little changes, like a wind farm that no longer exists. And some allotments which exist only in FRB’s head. But in general, they were brilliant. So I did two recces with Sara, meeting her at Lees reservoir near Oxenhope and running back to Denholme, then driving back to Oxenhope. We both managed the two car thing without either of us leaving our car keys in the wrong car (it is easy to do), though my yeast ended up in Sara’s boot and in her husband’s bread later in the week. I like recces; you don’t have to pelt them out at a pace, you get time to see the scenery, and time to hopefully learn the route. I fell twice on this one though, as you can see from this post. I did another one with FRB, from Denholme to the finish (though without going up the steep, cobbled, horrid Butt Lane that the malicious race organisers have put in the route), another one with FRB one gorgeous mid-week evening, because Sara and I had gone wrong over Warley Moor, ending up on a road with no clue, no good map and no phone signal. So I wanted to get that bit right in my head. In fact the path is pretty clear, we had just had a different interpretation of “head to Rocking Stone Flat.” FRB maintains Rocking Stone Flat is a long rock formation and you can’t see most of it so you are heading to it, whereas I still maintain that when instructions say head to Rocking Stone Flat, and Rocking Stone Flat is as distinctive as this:


We are still choosing to disagree about it. Hours of fun.

The final recce was again with Sara, and again going from Denholme (via Asa Nicholson’s of course) to the finish, and again avoiding Butt Lane until we couldn’t avoid it any longer (on race day). This time something went wrong again. I think it was the progesterone I have to take for two weeks a month, but about 20 minutes after we’d stopped on Harden Moor for a lovely cheese pasty, I suddenly had stomach cramps, a vague term that in this case meant severe shooting pains. I ran through it for several miles, but every footfall sent a shudder of pain into my pelvis, and finally I had to admit that I had to stop and walk. Sara was wonderfully patient, and had injury issues of her own to deal with – a dodgy ankle – and said she was glad of the walk. I think we were a couple of miles from the finish, and I’d spent several miles trying not to cry. FRB, who had done his own run but elsewhere on the route, joined us as we hit the Worth Way back into Haworth, and seemed alarmed at how quiet I was. Pain makes you quiet, sometimes. You concentrate all your effort into enduring it. All I could think of was getting to the car and lying down, and that’s what I did. Not sending all that impact up into my abdomen and pelvis helped. Anyway, it wasn’t fun, and I got myself to the GP. I’m getting a scan, but I’m pretty certain it was the progesterone.

Back to the marathon. After a week of tapering, I felt fat and heavy and horrible, and I was looking forward to fresh air and running, while of course having no clue how to run and feeling like I’d never done it before. In short, a normal taper. FRB and I have learned that for big races, we are best off staying in our respective houses and meeting at the venue. Race nerves do not lead to harmony or good sleep. So that’s what we did. I was, for me, amazingly well prepared. I’d made lists. 


I laid everything out in careful piles. I thought about hydration, nutrition, covering. I bought veggie sausages and chopped them into bite-sized pieces because there always comes a time in a marathon when I can’t bear any more sugar or energy gels gloop. I made marzipan balls and stuffed them with chopped nuts and coated them with desiccated coconut. Of course in the end I ate no sausages and had one marzipan ball, but fell runners are like Scouts: always be prepared.

The race began at the primary school in Haworth where it would also end. There is also a Yorkshireman half that starts half an hour later, and I was the only Harrier running the full marathon so there were no other purples around. The school corridors were a pungent mix of Deep Heat and coffee. And I hadn’t quite thought through my parking decision: I’d parked at the bottom of Butt Lane, but not carried kit with me, not realising what a schlep it was up to the school. I suppose I was just paying for not having done recces of Butt Lane. Instead, I did two of them on race morning. I felt OK, and it was nice to be in cheery company; a few Pudsey Pacers were doing the full, along with Sara.

Having done a damn good warm-up up and down Butt Lane, I finally found myself with kit in the right place. I got changed: lucky striped socks (actually hooped calf sleeves, FRB), funny Injinji toe socks over toes slathered with anti-chafing cream. My Kirkstall vest, sadly, was still somewhere over on the Dark Side, as I’d left it behind at Turnslack fell race and it hadn’t made its way home yet. I had a technical Kirkstall 30th anniversary t-shirt instead, which I hadn’t done a long run in – oops – but hoped would do. (It did, mostly, though its tendency to ride up made for some unflattering belly shots before I realised I should tuck it in.) We were ready.
The marathon runners gathered up on the cobbled streets of Haworth. I hadn’t recced the first couple of miles, as I reckoned there would be enough people to follow, and that was the case. Charlie Marshall, the race director, gave instructions. The first one was, has everyone got their dibber? You were given it when you collected (re-usable, rather stiff) race numbers but it wasn’t extremely clear and I could see how people might have missed it. There were two audible exclamations and two blokes ran off back to the school, a good five minutes away, to collect theirs. In fact their start was timed from the school, which was generous. 
And off we went. Up, up, and more up. God, it hurt. I knew the first couple of miles was going to be hilly, but by ‘eck. The Yorkshireman is a CL in Fell Running Association rules, which means it’s long and the flattest of all categories, but what climb it has has mostly been chucked into the first section. Sara and I agreed: steady. Save the legs. And so we did, up to Lees Reservoir, up another hill, and then onto a long long conduit, where we encountered both Woodentops (Dave, then Eileen Woodhead). I tried to jump in the air for Dave, but it didn’t quite work. I think Eileen took this picture, which I love:
We were passed at this point by a bloke in a green kilt. I asked him what tartan it was. Obviously that’s the kind of chat you have on a long off-road marathon. “It’s not mine,” he said, and I thought he meant the kilt. But he meant the tartan. It was what FRB calls McParty Tartan. Off they ran, kilt flapping, and we didn’t see them again. As the miles went past, the field got thinner and thinner. But they also passed amazingly quickly, as Sara and I were chatting about families, Bake-off, running, everything. I looked at my watch and saw we’d done nearly six miles.
I was delighted to realise that I knew most of the route. There were parts which blended into each other, usually long stretches of field and stiles. Although FRB is still training me to remember routes by what kind of stile – “no, then you go over a wooden one,” and how many, I still can’t remember them. But I knew enough to be sure-footed. I also didn’t fall over. It was a lovely day to begin with: not too hot, sunshine, and the views over the moors were gorgeous. I tried to take them in, while trying to keep a decent pace, while trying to save the legs. I lied about not going for a time: I started off hoping for 5 hours, then that diminished to 5.30 hours. I kept that hope until the last seven miles or so when it was clear it wouldn’t happen.
It was so great running with confidence that I knew the route. I know I’m emphasising this, but usually I feel inadequate, and rely on FRB or other runners. I’m going to do proper recces more often. At Ogden Water, a pair of runners we’d been pendulum-running with (they go ahead, we catch them up, we go ahead, they catch them up) suddenly stopped and looked lost. We showed them the way, but they stopped at the toilets, and on the road beyond the reservoir there is a cunning hairpin turn onto a track, and I don’t think it was stickered. After that we were on our own for the rest of the race, so I think several people must have missed it. At Denholme Velvets, there was a checkpoint where we were greeted with “Table for two, ladies?”. The marshal was lovely, and he had jam sandwiches, which made me love him more. At least until he said, “you’ve done all the hills now.” Really? I said, and reeled off the four I knew were coming. There was a runner at the checkpoint who had DNF-ed (for non-runners: Did Not Finish). He looked rueful. “I had a week in Paris and ate all the cheese and drank all the wine.” In which case, well done to him for running 15 miles. He didn’t look rueful about having consumed all the cheese and wine.
I’d thought that we’d probably only find crumbs at some checkpoints, but in fact there was something to scoff at all of them, and most of it welcome. I even ate the squares of cheese and pineapple just after Hewenden Viaduct even though the cheese was weeping in the heat and the flies were loving it. 
By Denholme, we were over half-way. It had got hotter and hotter: I put a buff on my head which may have been daft, especially as I was also carrying a cap (a buff is heavier). I made sure to drink lots, and had pee stops, which is always a good sign that I wasn’t just absorbing all the water and therefore not hydrated enough. And on we went, on and on, over track and moor and past llamas (or are they alpacas?).
There were apples from trees and orchards and blackberries, and miles of gorgeous views, and walkers and no wind farms. On Warley Moor there were bogs, and more bogs, and it was what is known as “technical.” I usually love to run through bogs, but even I had to slow, sometimes to a walk. It would have been quite hard to finish a marathon with a bog-twisted ankle.
With about seven miles to go, Sara started to get niggles. She already had problems with her ankle, and then her back started playing up. We slowed it down, and in the same way she had been so kind and considerate when I’d been crippled by stomach pains on our recce, I considered it my job to make it as easy for her as I could to get to the end. I was also finding it tough in the last miles: My feet were battered, but my spirits were actually OK. I’d like to think that my Three Peaks training, though it was so many months ago, has taught my brain to be strong when it’s knackered. So I tried to strike a balance of being encouraging – “we’re on the home stretch” “we’re doing really well” – and accurate “there are 2.5 miles to go” and I hope I managed it without being annoying. The last thing you want when you are tired and in serious discomfort and just want it all to end is someone cheerleading in your face. There are some hills in the last stretch which aren’t that high but feel like mountains, particularly one up to the bracken moor overlooking Haworth. At that point, I felt exhausted and my spirits really sagged. My feet hurt, both the hard skin under my big toes, and my toes were battered. Every time they hit a rock, I cursed. The air over Haworth was blue. I’d tried to greet everyone I passed, but by this point, no chance. Sorry, mountain bikers on the bracken moor. 
By now I realised that 5.30 was out of the question, but I thought we might do 5.45. Really, at that point, it didn’t matter. But as the miles had gone on, it was inevitable that conversation faltered, so I’d had to keep my mind busy somehow. After the bracken, which seemed to go on for miles, it was downhill into Haworth, past a checkpoint where a marshal was bizarrely shirty with us (I only remember him because everyone else had been lovely), along the Worth Way where we passed another marathon pair, one in an Um Bongo vest, along the cobbled road to the bottom of Butt Lane.
It won’t be that bad, FRB had told me of Butt Lane, because there will be loads of people cheering you up. Not if you take six hours to run the marathon, there aren’t. Everyone had left. We made our way up: walking the first very steep stretch, then shuffling up. Two people had remained to cheer, and that was extremely welcome. Thank you. I knew we weren’t last, because I knew that we’d lost several people at Ogden Water. We’d also heard on the way round about the Lost Americans: a group of Americans, or people who had come from America, who, when we got to one checkpoint, were nearly an hour behind us. Afterwards, I found out that one of them had arrived at Manchester airport after an overnight flight, at 8am, dashed to Haworth, started late, and they still ran a full marathon. Respect.
But from the quietness of Butt Lane, the number of runners driving home, I knew we were pretty far back in the field. Never mind. Keep shuffling. Butt Lane is awful, but I think the incline up to the school is worse. You think you’re nearly there, and it just goes on and on and on. But we did it, and FRB took a picture which shows us running in perfect sync, no sagging hips or flailing feet.
Past the first entrance, to the second entrance, down the steps, along the passageway, to the main entrance and
Six hours and forty-eight seconds.
I’m proud we got round, and I loved running as a pair. I really appreciated Sara’s company, and I’d recommend running a marathon as a pair, if only for the experience. I’ve run three four marathons now, and for two of them I spent several hours on my own in the middle of crowds of people and often wished for someone to help the miles pass. It can get quite lonely in big city marathons. So running companionship is great. And so is the Yorkshireman: The scenery is magnificent, it’s all runnable, the marshals are delightful, and they give you stew and a t-shirt afterwards (though, annoyingly, my pre-ordered S t-shirt had been taken by someone quicker).
I confess: I wish we’d done it faster but I would, wouldn’t I? And that’s what next year’s race is for.