This is possibly not a blog for the men folk - apologies in advance for too much information!
I'm doing this blog quickly so I can put this race behind me asap and move on! It is rather a long one - sorry!
I should really have listened to my youngest daughter, Eva. I started with a cold at the end of last week and have been suffering with it over the last few days. I was lying in bed last night, trying to get to sleep. Eva came into my room (one of those creepy moments when you feel someone watching you and there is a child next to your bed). She said "Mum, you're not running tomorrow are you? You look like you are dying!" Being the stubborn sod that I am, I didn't listen to the advice of my 12 year old and decided to run anyway!
As you can tell, the Beautiful Bolton Marathon (by It's Grim up North Running) did not exactly go to plan!
My dad and I ran this event last year and said that we would never do it again. Don't get me wrong, it is a stunning setting and a well organised event but it is tough - there are hills, lots and lots of mud and the weather was awful!
After deciding not to run this race again, about a month ago, I mentioned to my dad that it would actually be good training for the 10in10 and without putting up much of a fight, my dad and I both signed up (race entry is a little like child birth - you do it, it is awful but after the passage of time, your memory fades and you look back on it fondly and do it all again!)
Today's plan was to take it easy, get around injury free and to beat my time of 6+ hours from last year (it was my worst marathon time of 2017).
Well, I turned up a bit later than expected. I had planned my fuelling - I had my drink ready and my food in my bag but in the rush of getting my number and getting ready, I left everything in my bag (apart from my pack of tissues for my snotty nose).
I went to the race briefing but could not really hear so I just followed the crowd and headed to the start line. We were soon off and heading up the hills. The route was slightly different to last year and set off in a different direction, doing what I consider to be the tough half first.
Bolton Abbey Marathon is basically, up, down, up, down, a bit of flat with some mud and then muddy hills! The first few hills are tough but I managed them fine. I had a bit of tightness in my calves after the first few miles and I put that down to wearing trail shoes which I don't usually wear (I'm a road shoe girl but thought I'd best bring the trail shoes out to play today) and also the terrain - slipping around in the mud isn't great for your ankles.
We had a right mix of weather - a bit of hail, snow, rain and even the sunshine made an appearance.
I stopped at the loo mid way round and sadly, my period had started. Great bloody timing Mother Nature. I didn't let it phase me and headed on.
I managed the first lap with not too many problems, I was a bit tired by the end of it but it is a tough course so that's to be expected. There was a bit of a crowd at the feed station, so I headed on by and set off on my second lap. This is where it all went wrong!
As I was going up the first big hill of this lap, I just burst in to tears. Not a few little tears, proper big sobs. I have absolutely no idea where these came from or why I was upset - maybe I was overwhelmed by the beautiful view? More than likely, it was a mix of hormones, tiredness from being poorly and generally feeling a bit low and under the weather but it just came completely out of the blue and took my by surprise. I couldn't breathe as I was crying so much so I had to walk for a bit and try and sort myself out. It's very common for other runners to encourage each other to keep on going/check on each other. Some poor chap asked me if I was ok and then spotted I was crying. I said I was fine and he quickly ran on and said to his mate - that lady's crying - they seemed to quicken their pace and soon headed off. I don't really blame them! Being followed by a crazing, crying lady is not my idea of Sunday fun.
I ran on and came across Phil and then Ade. Again, both asked if I was fine and it just made me cry even more! Ade kindly ran with me for a little bit and gave me a hug and then we headed in different directions on the course. I went over the muddy field towards where Jim and Kate were marshalling. Again, I was greeted with more kind words of support and more hugs and I cried some more! Pathetic I know. I was joined by two runners, Sarah and Darren and they encouraged me to run along with them. They kindly chatted to me and got me through the muddy fields and up the awful slippy, muddy hill back to the path way.
I had another chat with Phil. I then ran on to see Diane and Kev for more hugs and tears and then eventually caught up with Sarah and Darren again. By this time, my mind had been made up to just do the half marathon. Physically I felt able to run on but I was a bit of an emotional wreck and felt rather mentally drained.
We were running down the driveway back towards the coffee shop and race HQ when the runner in front of me was clipped by a car. I heard him shout - the driver was really close to him and I thought the car had driven over his foot. The driver didn't stop so I stood in front of the car, waving my arms like a loon and eventually he stopped. The runner came over and as to be expected, he was really cross. The driver didn't even apologise. Another runner in a car leaving the race, pulled up alongside the car and also started shouting. Sarah was ace and calmed the situation. A photo was taken of the vehicle. The runner had been clipped by the car's wing mirror. No serious damage was done and after the initial shock had worn off, he was fine to carry on to the finish. I have absolutely no idea why this driver didn't move over to the right - there were no cars coming from the other direction and the poor runner was all the way to the right hand side of the road! Poor sod. All this drama just cemented the idea that I was going to quit half way.
I had a hug from Sarah and she and Darren headed off to complete the marathon whilst I turned off for the finish. I was stood chatting with the race photographer, Andrew first. Sandra spotted me from across the river and headed over. Another big hug and I once again burst into tears! Ridiculous. I walked on over to the finish and with all the hugging and chatting, I finished the half in about 2 hours 55 minutes - over an hour more than my usually half finish time!
I felt so guilty for quitting. There were loads of new 10in10ers on the course and plenty of past 10in10ers too. I felt like a complete failure. They were all running so strongly - I felt like the weak link in the team. Worst of all, I felt like I had let my dad down. I had talked him in to doing the race and I couldn't even finish it myself. He was out there getting muddy and wet in the cold and I was heading over with Cath for a hot drink in the cafe!
I did feel much better after a chat and a hot chocolate. I headed back over to the start where I saw my dad finish his second lap. After a few more tears, he headed out to finish the race and I stood around trying to help but possibly getting in the way.
It was great to cheer on all the runners as they finished. I'm usually out on the course so I tend to miss the faster runners finishing. There were some cracking performances today - Jonathan came 1st male in the ultra, Ade did a cracking time and got under 4 hours 30 and Lianne came in second female. My dad did brilliantly too - he still looked really strong at the finish (despite being covered in mud from a fall in the last few miles).
I am now going to hang up my trainers for the next 3 weeks, get over this bloody cold once and for all, concentrate on my strength training and try and shift these little niggles. Hopefully I will come back stronger for my next race at the end of the month in Slaithwaite. Yes, I am worried that my fitness will drop but hopefully, if I shift the niggles, my fitness won't take long to return.
On the plus, I got to see loads of familiar faces, I received lots of hugs and lovely words of support from everyone today - the marshals and runners alike. I made some new running buddies. I also had no chafing as I didn't run far enough or fast enough to suffer this. The only injury I walked away with was sore, red puffy eyes from all the crying and they will hopefully shift with a good night's sleep, otherwise I'll get some odd looks at work tomorrow!
Thanks to everyone who provided hugs, kind words, general niceness and delicious cake and a huge thank you to Sarah for her kind donation to the Brathay Trust.