My First Marathon

For posterity, and anyone who may be interested, here’s a little account of my first, and hopefully worst marathon. The Farnham Pilgrim 2013.

I’m not sure I am someone who could ever really be much good at running marathons. I’d at least like to get a few more years running under my belt before I try and run them hard.

Anyway, I made a few running promises to myself this year and one of them was to do a marathon, to sort of, ‘get it out of the way’ so I could continue to focus on 10k.

After cracking 40 minutes for 10k – I skinned it in 39:55 with a sprint finish even though I had no idea what the time was on the clock [remember that fact] – I decided to look for a marathon that I could do that was local and sometime in September/October (due to a little bet). The Farnham Pilgrim Marathon fit the bill.

It’s a trail marathon and I was expecting it to be hilly-ish. I had trained for 16 weeks on three steep, long hills in Guildford. But WOW. It wasn’t anything like enough. This run (if you can call it a run at the speed I did it) was horrific. Most of the hills weren’t that steep, but they were long. As a result, at the halfway point (2 hours, by the way) my quads were shot.

And that led to a lot of comedy running styles, a lot of cramps, a bit of a twist in my left knee at about 22 miles and a lot of walking. I wouldn’t be surprised if I walked 5 miles of the last half (and frankly halfway felt like 20 miles – I knew it was going to be a hard slog home).

That, compounded with the broken rhythm and sloshy stomach from drinking at pretty much every station, made for a bit of a misery march.

There was a lot of muttering of “why did I think this would be fun”, and “man up” and “that guy looks about ninety and he’s running faster than me”* or in fact “that guy could pass on before I finish”.

Nevertheless, of course, I’m thrilled to have done it. I’m in two minds about whether I want to get the London Marathon place I entered into the ballot for. Give me a road any day but… Yeah.

After that glowing endorsement, I can heartily recommend doing the Farnham Pilgrim. The organisation and the volunteers were amazing, it was a beautiful course, and everyone was sickeningly friendly. To the point where I only heard one ungodly word muttered all day. Do it. Honestly.

Thank yous

And the time, well I’m not all that thrilled about it. Not because it’s a particularly bad time, but more because I bigged myself up by saying I thought I could go for 3:30-4.

4:29:55. Well. At least it shouldn’t be too hard to beat it next time.