Sunday, October 20, 2013

Yorkshire Marathon 2013

As I recently returned from Vancouver to live in Yorkshire, what better way to celebrate than to take part in the inaugural Yorkshire Marathon.  My girlfriend Zoe was doing it too, so it would be fun to run it together.  We also had our goods friends, Justin and Julia from Nottingham, coming to support us as well.

The race started and finished in the city of York with the majority of the course being routed through the villages located to the east of the city.  This provided rural and scenic vistas as we ran around the mainly flat county lanes. We had decided to run the race together and were hopeful of a good time. Our last long training run had gone well and we could support each other when the going got tough. It was a flat and fast course too.   

As it turned out, our legs were not as fresh as they should have been on the start line. We had gone Geo Caching with our friends the day before the race and got a little carried away, it gets very addictive trying to find one cache after the other. Before we knew it, we had walked for almost 4 hours. Would this come back to bite us in the latter stages of the race? 

The weather had been pretty wet and windy in the week leading up to the race but we were pleasantly surprised to be standing on the start line in calm and dry conditions. A sell out field of 4,000 runners lined up and there was a great atmosphere as we waited for the 9.30am start.

The first couple of miles were through the city centre and and past some great landmarks including York Minster. The atmosphere and support was fantastic and we were feeling very excited.  We were running well and our pace was good. We were hoping to run around 7min 25sec/mile pace. By the 5 mile marker, we were heading out into the rural countryside and the number of supporters thinned out dramatically, partly due to the fact that we were running on narrow country lanes.  Our pace was still on course but our legs were not feeling as energetic as they should at this stage of a marathon.  We just settled into running well and hoped for the best.

A little further on, Zoe started to feel some discomfort in her back and took a pain killer at the next water station.  She had been suffering from occasional lower back pain over recent months but had been OK in the weeks leading up to the race.  We reached the half way mark in 1 hour 38 mins which was just slightly down on our target for the race. However, Zoe's back pain was becoming more of an issue and our legs were starting to feel heavy.  We dug in.

At the 15 mile marker, our pace was beginning to slow and we had to stop for Zoe to stretch out her back.  I was starting to worry that Zoe might have to pull out as it was clear she was starting to really suffer.  However, Zoe has never had a DNF in a race and is one determined runner.  So we carried on and just focused on one mile at a time.  It was getting really tough from then on, our legs were very tired and Zoe was running with a lot of pain.  I was glad to be there to help and tow her along.  She tucked in behind me and we gritted our teeth, grinding out one mile after another.  

By the time we got to mile 21, we were doing the marathon shuffle and digging pretty damn deep to keep running.  Even though our pace had slowed a lot, we were still passing lots of runners that we're also finding it tough.  I had nothing but admiration that Zoe kept running in those last few miles and we saw the job through. Just the occasional stop to stretch her back and then carried on.  Finally we were in the last mile and we knew that the suffering was almost over.  As we approached the finish line, we saw Justin and Julia once again cheering us on which was a very welcome sight. We felt a surge of emotion as we crossed the line in 3 hours 31mins.  

Although the result was not what we had hoped for, we take great pride in the fact that we saw the race through to the end.  We had asked our resilience some serious questions and thankfully we came up with the goods.  I was blown away to see Zoe show such determination, putting mind over matter, and getting the job done. We DEFINITELY earned that post race beer!

Featured Post

Knee Knacker 2013

The Knee Knacker is a bit of a iconic race on the West Coast of Canada, especially amongst the trail running community. First run in 1989,...