I’ve had a weekend full of boundary antics. Running leg 2 with Mel, Kerry and Mark on Saturday. And the amazing leg 6 with Bryan and Chris on Sunday. All in preparation for the relay and the bigger challenge of running all 73 mile of it! The crags though, aren’t they just beautiful. But 18 clocked Saturday, Mel laughed when I said I’m running a marathon on Monday! A steady 13/14 clocked for Sunday. A deep conversation with the legend that is Bryan in the car afterwards. It’s more than just running!
Back here anyway. Back again. My first marathon back in 2013. My first proper running event. Back before I knew what running actually meant. What it meant to run. To be part of a community and part of something bigger, to inspire and motivate yourself and others. To improve and improve, to fail time and time again. To fall off and get back on. To find large and small successes through the sport and vehicle of running. Continuously striving for the next barrier and remembering when you achieved the last one. I started my journey at Milton Keynes Marathon 2013. I became addicted at Sheffield Half Marathon the week later. My furthest run in the build up back then, nothing in comparison to today. I thought it would be a walk in the park; how wrong was I! My highest mileage week something like 30 mile. Nothing too serious. I was raising money back then for cancer research, having just lost my Nan to cancer. I was a little bit slower back then. I was stepping out of my comfort zone and into the unknown.
I wore earphones, had an ace playlist starting with MGMT, through to Oasis, Courteeners to mention a few; finishing with Ben Howard- Keep Your Head Up. I remember coming in to that song and the emotion filled passion followed. There’s nothing like your first marathon for a runner. Plenty of you had that at London last weekend! I finished in 4:04:22; 704th position. Ever since Milton Keynes has held that key and that mantel. It’s been a devil in the back of my mind. Knowing I had unfinished business.
Funny story after Milton Keynes 2013, on the way back travelling on the motorway a stone flicked up chipped my windscreen. Got it repaired on Friday morning that week. Went to Sheffield Half Marathon the week after. Left one shoe in the field at Don Valley Bowl. Realised when I got home later that night. Went through in the pouring down rain, and my windscreen wiper blew off on the motorway. Pulling over to the hard shoulder, ringing the roadside rescue. 3 hours! So carried on with one arm out the window. Turning round and leaving my shoe for another day. Went through the day after. It was there with a puddle in the bottom of it! Anyway 2 weeks later on the way to Leeds to go shopping, my windscreen cracked again from another stone! As luck would have it!
I returned last year 2016 anyway. 3 years after my first. Staying once again in the Hilton hotel that’s built into the Stadium MK. Dinner laid on the night before and breakfast in the morning. King size bed, late checkout and a pitch view. Logistically bliss! Having run Manchester a couple of week before in a couple of seconds over 2:45. I was optimistic a steady run would take me under the 3 hour mark here. Smashing my PB at this event. I wasn’t too interested in a marathon PB! Too many underpasses here. I set off steady and just went out to enjoy it. My steady plod in 2016 landed me at 2:52:48; 11th place! I came back here and in my mind smashed it. Took a chunk off of my time and put the business to rest. I was content at the time with that.
But now I’m here and back again. What am I doing this for? Can I do better? Can I PB on here? Can I beat the 2:50 mark? The 2:40? Can I just simply finish? I’ve tried to keep this one quiet, I’m treating it as a training run. So in truth, I don’t know what will happen. I’m going in blind. As blind as my first, a lone wolf trying to find something to do. I haven’t tapered. I haven’t trained for it specifically. I ran Manchester at the beginning of April, whilst injured! In hindsight it would have been ace to have been involved in London last week. But entering months in advance I just didn’t know what I wanted to do! I looked at Edinburgh again but it’s so expensive now and I’d rather run Buxton Half Marathon. But I’m here now on the start line of Milton Keynes, my hotel room is anyway!
Ace meal and preparation the night before; probably lacking in quantity but I made up for that with flapjack and a protein drink in the room. Probably went to bed a little later than I should have. I woke up at like 7. Plodded around and showered. Off to collect my number from the other side of the stadium for 8. Coming back and finishing the rest of my morning routine and off to breakfast. 1 and half bowls of porridge and Nutella. A bowl of fruit and a glass of orange juice later. Teeth brushed, Sherbet Lemons from the bottom of my carboot!
I was ready and off. Making my way around to the start and finding myself on the front row. It was hot, it was busy, the Half Marathon starts at the same time. Speaking to a chap behind me who was targeting 2:45, I said I’ll see it’ll be nice. But I had to target my targets were going to be planned at mile 20! Listening to an emotional speech from the announcer and 10 o’clock came. We were off. No target in mind so just ran to comfort. Turns out comfort landed me at 5:50 for my first mile. The lad targeting 2:45 flew off, so did Adam Holland an athlete known for his crazy expeditions. I settled in something like 6th/7th for the marathon positions, hard to calculate cause of all the Half runners as well. With them I was more like 20th! Milton Keynes isn’t exceptionally flat and neither is it a fast field. Not in comparison to London or Manchester. It’s got too many underpasses and it’s place in the calendar is surrounded by massive events. Mile 2 came around, running through my head, why am I doing this again? My toenail was a bit long on my right foot, felt like it was bruising. I knew in my head that sub 6:08 pace would land me somewhere around PB. But that’s from my recent antics. Got to the first water station at 3 mile. Feeling still comfortable, starting to pick up pace and pick some people off. But still running with the half marathon runners. 6:07 and 6:02 for mile 2 and 3. It’s full of roundabouts Milton Keynes and it’s deceptively climby to say it’s a modern day town! There’s a few lightly cobbled streets but nothing major and it twists and turns for a few mile! We started running back on ourselves, watching all the others starting out on their journey. Supporting and cheering on as we go. A massive lift and inspiring! Mile 5 you split and your out on your own again now. Still with the half marathon runners in tow. I started to toy with the idea of putting in a sherbet lemon. They were all stuck together and glued, covered in boot remnants. Not healthy looking. I got it out my back pocket, looked at it and started ripping the wrapper from the sweet. It took me a mile to do this! 10k split 37:10, 5th place. Not bad that. I carried on and we split with the Half runners at 7. I had sights of a runner in front. It was the chap targeting 2:45. Winding through the wood I managed to pass him. I held my pace and I was running my own race. My race is always against myself. Then rain came at mile 8ish, I think? A tropical shower for a minute or so, I was soaked. Blowing into your face. But this is nothing compared to anything I’ve faced before. The next time I looked at my watch was mile 10, through there in something like 58/59 minutes. My sherbet still surviving despite the carpet hair and plastic wrapper in my teeth. Legs feeling fresh despite the heavy miles on the trails at the weekend. Plodding on. The marathon always starts after half way, no matter how fresh you’re feeling! My half marathon PB sits around the 1:14 mark from Inskip. If I run that today, something is wrong! Pace it nicely; take it easy, look after your body and you’ll eventually finish. 1:18:37, a little bit quicker than mine and Damien’s Dunford handicap last weekend. The bugger bet me! But now finding myself in 4th and no sights of anyone in front and no sound of anyone behind! This is lone wolf territory. Underpasses, redway, yellow bollards and housing estates. This is peace and quiet. Running is time to think over life’s problems! Ain’t it?
The second half of the run started, looking for the signs for these Monuments and sights of interest in Milton Keynes. Barnsley really should set up a marathon like this! Still on long cycle tracks and believe it or not the sherbet still survived! The soggy one was whole in my mouth. Looking for amusement and picking my head up, listening to the supporters, you’re in 4th? I was surprised, cause I really thought I was further back in the field than that! Along with the usual remarks of Wolverine and Ed Sheeran or I love that beard! Counting down the miles now, again like Manchester relating it to runs I’ve done and how far I’ve got left. Taking strength from my experience and taking energy from my achievements. Running. What does it do for you! Finding a second wind when I approached 16, I could now see a runner in front slowing. It took me a while to catch but I was getting there. He was obviously in 3rd. Mile 18 and I managed to over take him and he stopped. All of his inside leg was bleeding and the marathon had taken its toll. Through 20 mile in 2:01:00, room to ease if I want now. Supporters playing with my head again, 90 seconds behind 2nd place. Massive gap I’m thinking. So I slowed but another sherbet in that I spat out at mile 17. Sherbet record by the way! Appreciate that. I got it out my back pocket. Fumbled with the wrapper and spent another mile, getting wrapper but no sherbet in my mouth. That’s somewhere at the side of the canal after the water station, I said to a walker bin that for me please. Yes that sticky sherbet. But my blip in pace on strava is sherbet related! Ooops. I now approached an underpass where you can see the route going back the other way, I could see the first and second runner. So I’m seriously quite close. My body didn’t feel like mine anymore. Out of body experience. I managed to overtake the lad in second. He said you can catch him I was tramming on at 6:10’s at this point. I managed to overtake and found myself in first place, following the lead bikers now. 4 mile to go. Maths says 24/25 minutes. A Spencer’s Dash, a Trunceish. Focussing on myself and just get me safely home. It didn’t really hit me to think, I’m in the lead of the Milton Keynes Marathon. Back to where all of my running began on that hot day in 2013! I was walking at this point back then. Crying at the reason as to why I was running it. Emotion brought me safely home that day. It’s in mind today. We all have our reasons, we all have our stories. We use them as strength to create that hope. Harness them in a run. When it’s tough. A Parkrun to go. Not as hilly as Barnsley. But still a fair distance with 23 mile behind you. Still at 6:10/6:20’s. We eventually joined up route with the half marathon runners who were still on their journey. Finding it hard to pass them and the lead bikers doing me a massive favour. 1 mile to go. I’m in the lead. Stadium insight. KFC insight. Swooping round to enter the stadium for a finish lap. Everyone cheering and an applause for being the first marathon runner. One of the lead bikers fell, I later found out he had a punctured front tyre! The grass a little slippy. Running in for a stadium finish, tape thrown across. And I did it. Unfinished business settled.
Back to where it all began.
But now the issue is, yes it’s a PB, yes I ran well. But 2:40:06? We’ll have to see about that!
Results Link: https://www.resultsbase.net/results/1983004
It feels great to have done it. Where it all began.
Just Keep Running.