61ST I.O.W Marathon 2017 by Terry Smith

I have been asked by our club captain to share my experience of the IOW Marathon. So, how did my race all come about?

The good old fashioned new year’s resolution had struck on this one. The resolution was to lose weight, I was a fairly hefty 96kg in January this year, which is a lot for my tiny 5ft 9 figure! I have always needed a goal to work towards when it comes to losing weight, diets and fads don’t work for me. Maximum effort put in, maximum gains come out.

The ultimate goal was to run the IOW ultra. At the end of April 2017, 15hrs 40 mins 16 secs and 66 miles later it was done. But I needed more goals, my weight goes up and down like a yoyo and I was going to be dammed if I got back to my 96kg self again. Que the IOW marathon.

Training

Probably the hardest part of the lot, I wanted a good time for the level I am currently at which meant I needed to put the time in. Roughly one long run a week of either 17 or 20ish miles. At my level, this is 3 hours on just one run. I found that juggling this with family life and the kids a challenge in itself. I started running at 19:30 on a Thursday night for long runs, just after the kids got to bed, but after six weeks of this it started taking its toll on me. I started to find I was probably not gaining anything by doing it so late and the last 2 weeks of training see me take afternoons off work in order to get more benefit.

Other runs included club nights and lunch time runs at work, I also managed a run first thing on a Saturday. I tried to get a tempo run in once a week and that normally was my club night run. Most of my training weeks were around the 30-mile mark. I had never done a marathon race before, however, I had covered the distance twice in my ultra-training. My best time for a marathon then was 4:45.

 

Race Day

I had a wobble on the Thursday before the race, my body did not feel right and I just felt drained. I had the day off sick (I had never taken a day off sick prior!) and thankfully sorted myself out. On the Sunday morning, I had my final bowl of carbs and got myself at the start line, I wanted under 4 hours which I felt was achievable. That is an average pace of just over 9 min miles. I set off around 8 min miles, in hind sight this may have been too quick as I later found out.

At the 3 mile mark I caught up with the eventual first lady home of the race. Her name was Hayley, I stuck with Hayley up to mile 14 which is when I felt the onset of cramp coming so had to slow down. I will never forget Hayley, everybody knows her, walkers, runners, cyclists, cars, in fact, just by mile 6 I thought about changing my name to Hayley!

I got myself up to mile 18 and the cramp finally caught me, I had to stop and stretch for a min or so, ever so conscious of the clock ticking. A couple at the side of the road offered me some water and I gladly necked half a bottle. A quick thankyou and off I went in the hunt of the finish line. I found myself running on my own around the 16-mile mark, but after my spat of cramp I started to get lonely. It was starting to hit me and I had to keep thinking about the next water/sponge station where I would have contact and cheers.

This is where Nigel Eldridge gave me a nice boost around the 23m mark. After that little boost I then sort of got moving. Sort of because It was all hills, I was sick of hills, I was tired, and I wanted to finish. The boost came from all the people not used to hills. I managed to keep running where others were not and I was able to pass 4 people on this nasty final hill stage. At the top of the hill into Cowes I met Sally Roberts and Rosie Eldridge, another huge boost that got me through the final stage.

It was at this point that I knew the finish was near and although fighting cramp, I did not want to lose my place. Consistently checking over my shoulder looking for anybody trying to sneak up on me I kept a good pace for the last mile. Thankfully, I was well clear and I finished just under 3 hr 47min.

Conclusion

A marathon is not for the faint hearted, the time to train is draining. But the result and feeling you get at the end is indescribable. A sense of achievement. And it leaves me to want more. I have been running for 10 months now, I know I can run, I now need to work on my speed.

I am signed up for next year’s IOW ultra and I want a top ten finish, I already have next year’s half marathon in mind, I feel I can get this under 1 hr 30m. And then I shall no doubt be doing the marathon again. Sub 3:45 will be the goal, but if the ultra-training goes well, there should be no reason why I can’t go for sub 3:30.

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