Well here we are. The Yorkshire Marathon.
All roads every year since I’ve started running have lead to York. 2013. Entered before I even put my toes on the line at Milton Keynes, gambling on the fact that I would even want to ever do another. It so happened to be the first Yorkshire Marathon, it turned out to be my second ever marathon. I’ve run every Yorkshire Marathon since. Maybe I’ll get old and grey with the event. We’ll see.
2013 brought a marathon PB, with the Milton Keynes effort being 4:04. I knew psychologically I could do better with some more experience and proper training. So I turned up at York with a little bit of that. I ran a couple of other distances as well. Trained a bit more enjoyed the running aspect. Struggled with shin splints but I did it and I got round in: 3:19:35
2014, the one where it was a little bit foggy and I remember it being a little bit more lonely. Despite the photo, chose it because of the cameo from Steve Melber! I walked away with my first sub 3, at York. 2:58:17. I ran 2:55 earlier in the year at the later described short course at Manchester.
2015, running 2:50 again at the short Manchester course earlier in the year. I struggled to train for the 2015, York Marathon. Was going with the small hope that I’d at least course PB. Narrowly getting a 2:58:05. A lot less foggy this year, a lot more lonely! Bettering my position by at least 20 places.
2016, the beard got a bit bushier. The running got a bit more intense, my running streak started not too long after the 2015 marathon. So I was approaching almost a year of running everyday. My mileage began to increase and training went a little bit better. Posting a time of 2:48:18.
2017, mileage massively ramped up and running streak approaching two years. I was feeling good in myself and psychologically strong. With my Uncle battling with Motor Neurone Disease, it gave me the strength to soldier on. Running became more than running for me and I managed my first ever sub 2:40. Clocking 2:37:49. For 9th Place. It was a lonely race, against myself. But I wasn’t truly alone.
Now I find myself again, grinding out the miles. Doing something that I love, enjoying doing it. Admiring the true unbelievable beauty of putting one step in front of the other. I never really have a training block for marathons, I like to be in marathon shape all year round and just hope it falls into place come race day. However if this was a training block of marathon training, then it would be my best ever block. Since July things have worked, like clockwork. I’ve enjoyed everything around me, that little bit more than usual. Running happy and running free. I’ve PB’ed over Parkrun, 5k, 10k, Half Marathon and even PB’ed in a Marathon! Taking 1st place at a few different races and setting a course record at a race on the York Marathon route. But I’ve never really done it for positions or ‘glory.’ Give me a fast time any day! I’ve been in a wonderful place, which is down to the small running community around me, which is becoming continuously larger, may I add! I’ve loved every moment.
For the first time ever, I thought for the marathon that I would try a taper. Mainly due to my performance at Hull, which was off the back of a lower mileage week, due to illness. Also off of a chat with Hanks earlier in the week, lending me an ear of advice. Sometimes, he might be right. So I’ll trust him. So that’s what I did, I set out my daily goals. To meet a ‘taper,’ planning to have 60 miles under my belt by Saturday evening. A small change in comparison to my usual 85. I skipped speedwork like a cheat on Wednesday too. Choosing a 6:20 ‘tempo’ for 9 miles instead. When Saturday came around, I resisted the temptation to run with Scott around Parkrun on Saturday. Clocking a 17:37 instead. Another thing as well, we hadn’t planned to stay over for the marathon in York. So it meant bed early on Saturday night. 9 o’clock is early for me. Dropping off by 10.
I woke up around 6. Straight into the shower to wake me up, followed my a massive bowl of porridge. Waking my mum and dad up in the process. They were coming with, to support. Due to the amount of marathons lately and staying over, me and Ellie agreed, instead of her missing football, she would go to football instead. Then she’ll come to the marathons we were staying over for. Which I didn’t mind. So a kiss from her, leaving her in the warm and dry bed. Leaving the house for 7. Dad, aka Biff, knew a car park spot across from the Barracks. So we headed for there, getting there around 8. A short walk to the starting area across Walmgate Stray and through the Barracks. Finding the portaloos and keeping dry under some shelter until it got busier. Quickly seeing Charlie Skipper and his Dad, John. Sharing conversation with them, before getting stripped off and heading to the start line together.
Please take a moment to appreciate my bin bag fashion. I’ve officially become a marathon runner. Spotting runners like Steve Melber, Simon Lambert and Jonathan Walton. Before being joined by the ‘elites,’ Scott Harrington, Adam Holland, Julie Briscoe and Paul Martelletti (not recognising him at first, due to his hat). Runners I know, familiar faces. Rubbing shoulders with people who have for so long been in the distance. I’m out of my depth. Quickly calmed by seeing Hannah, Shaun and Jack. Thank god for that. Chatting, bantering, calming. Looking around, setting my watch. Binning my bag. Bouncing. Before I knew it, we was off!
Finally at some peace, running.
Trying to keep calm and set pace. Finding myself quickly in a group, chatting to Scott. Glancing around. I’m literally in a group where I never imagined myself to be. I’m on the front row. Feeling rather comfortable, chatting with Scott. Calming myself and hopefully him. Looking up, feeling confident. Approaching the city centre. A glance at a beep from my watch, gave me an idea of where I was at. 1:24 for 400m’s. But mainly enjoying the race. Enjoying the route, enjoying the company. The tv camera around us. I better watch that coverage next weekend! Before I knew it, getting into the city centre. Looking at seeing York Minster. Scott says, enjoy this moment. Look at it. That I did. I looked up and as the bells rang. In all its glory. A moment only the eye can catch. We all kicked, enjoying the moment as a pack of 6. A little bit too much! Like wolves charging through the streets of York. We was out of York, now heading towards the 10 mile split. Seeing familiar sights, and supporters who are always out on route. I know bits of the route, sights a little too well now. I know where things are. It makes it feel a whole world longer! Trotting on, ticking the miles off. Keeping together. Stronger together? Right? Paul Martelletti made a surge. If you don’t know him, google him. 2:16:49 is his PB, different league! I said to Scott, let him go. Don’t worry about him. It ended with Scott saying he’d chewed us up. Which is true. He’s unbelievable. Adam Holland went with him. Whilst the 4 of us hung back. On the road to Stockton on the Forest. Splitting onto our own path now away from the 10 mile route. Pace, probably a little quick. But feeling comfortable and confident. Going through 10k split in 34:15. After Stockton we turned into tree cover, thank god! A little bit anyway, he’s gave us rain today. Yo, yoing with bikes and tv cameras. Then Scott found a new friend in a police bike who soaked him through! As if we wasn’t soaked enough already! Winding around here, recognising small sights and small landmarks from years gone by. Hitting a small climb only to race down through Upper Helmsley followed by Sand Hutton. Before then making our way to Stamford Bridge. Where I recently ran the Derwent Dash 10k. Parking on the Marathon route, knowing my mum and dad would be there cheering me on. Scott had split himself off in front now with Paul and Jonathan! I was finding myself in a smaller fringe group of 3. Josh, Adam and Me. Missing a grab of water on the way, so frustrating! Splitting half way, 13.1, in 1:12:32. Eventually, finally turning left towards Stamford Bridge to run down to only to turn round and run back up.
A chance to see what is happening behind us. Finding out there was another pack about half a mile back. It’s a climb now, on a rolling uphill towards Dunnington. Looking for small targets and small landmarks to make the miles go quicker. Chatting with the runners I’m with. Finding out Josh’s name. Talking to him, he was working off the back of me. I didn’t mind because he was pushing me along. Kicking and hoping to drive forward. One foot in front of the other. As quick as I can.
This section of the marathon is a tow. It’s an out and back from Dunnington for about a mile to then turn and climb back up. Not nice. Today, flooded with puddles. Lakes, trying to cut them, not to get our feet even more soaked! Scott and Paul choosing to go on the other side of the road to avoid the lake that had formed. We chose to do the same, by the time we came back. It had consumed the full road. Splitting 30k in 1:44:53. 12k to go. Josh motivating me to keep going. I knew I could keep going. I had it in me now. Psychologically stronger than I’ve been before. Knowing from years of the York Marathon. I’m not alone. I can work and work and work. But I’m not alone. The 20 mile marker approached, where the marathon begins. Joined by two cyclists and official bikers on route. To help us fight through the 10 mile runners. Josh split from me, leaving me in 4th Place. I was content, I was happy. I knew by now that the sub 2:30 was in my control. Calves were beginning to tighten due to the cold water splashing up. I was working. Rejoined by the 10 milers. Sticking to the left, but trying to hug a racing line. The cyclist shouting for me, thanking runners for me, being my voice when I didn’t have one. Focussing myself on the miles, one by one. Grinding them out. A glance at my watch, seeing my only feedback on screen. My time. Figuring out, a 6 minute mile every mile would get me that sub 2:30. That goal. Not that I’ve always dreamed about it. I never even knew it was even possible for me. It wasn’t ever realistically in my sights until recent. Mile 23 marker down, it was becoming long and calves were becoming painful. Gritting my teeth and going on. Mile 24 down. The 10 mile runners becoming more and more. More names and people I knew. I couldn’t get the energy in myself to say anything in return. The cyclist doing it for me. She was from Wakefield, so she knew some of them anyway! Fighting the way through the traffic for me. Motivating me herself. Nearly hitting spectators as they crossed, completely unaware of their surroundings. Fighting on and on. Mile 25 down. Waiting for that hill, that left to the finish. Up the hill we previously ran down. It came, it came around quick. Now this was a true struggle, this is where I would loose any time.
I made my way up and up and up. The longest hill in history, known to man! Jokes it’s only about 400m’s but after the flat for so long. It was gruelling! Hitting the top, seeing the marker, 400 to go. Knowing the sub 2:30 was in my hands. Drive and go! Letting my legs go. Releasing myself towards the line. The cyclist leaving me to go for it, after she carried me through those final miles, thank you. Seeing the line in sight. Hearing the buzz. Crossing it and holding on.
Emotion hit, the goal had been grabbed. Shaking hands with Scott, Josh and Paul. Seeing Jonathan cross the line and then Adam. Glancing up at the sky, seeing every single moment around me. Feeling overwhelmed, overjoyed, happiness and pain? Did I ever mention pain? Seeing Hannah, Shaun and Jack again on the hill, bringing me down to earth. Before finding my resting place alongside a metal fence. Head bowed down and eyes welling up, I didn’t know what to feel at all. They were happy tears Hannah, I promise! Thank you again. Holding myself together, to attempt to speak to them. Sharing my emotion, talking about Hannah’s PB in the 10 mile race. 1:14:46. I made my way out of the finish area.
Getting my finishers bag, medal. Before grabbing a photo with mum and dad. Chatting with Steve Melber, joining the shorter medal engraving queue and making our way, slowly back to the car.
All in all. Soaked to the bone. A marathon, a test of everything that life has. A test of your body, your spirit, your own physical capabilities. A battle between the head and heart, a psychological willingness to go on. When the going gets tough and the mind weakens, having enough inside of you to soldier on. To do it for everyone around you, enjoy it for all that it is. It’s a simple act of one front in front of the other, but running, it’s so much more than that. The success of the marathon may be mine, my own personal achievement. It is however shared with everyone around me, the close and far connections, who without I couldn’t ever do. That elusive sub 2:30 time might have been achieved today, but that’s now the start of something else. Project sub 2:25 starts here. A gear I’m going to find, eventually!
Charlie, Lee and Steve all achieved PB’s, but I’ll not steal their glory. Scott ran sub 2:30 and finished 3rd, roughly a minute in front of me. Simon ran a sub 2:45 for another strong run! There’ll be plenty more around, that I’ve probably missed.
Splits for the marathon, I faded a little towards the end, mainly when rejoining with 10 milers, as their pace was throwing mine off. But quite happy with the consistency in splits, I always run solely to feel. With feedback from my technology only ever being time. I know many runners run to Heart Rate and pace etc. But I don’t feel the need to, I suppose in the good old days. That’s all they ever did, run to feel. If it feels too fast, it probably is?
I’ll probably bulk it out with more photos in the coming days. When I tend to spot more online etc. My words will have to do.
For now though, we go again
Just Keep Running!
A quick note from the man of history, John Broom, obviously disregarding Dan Kestrel (due to him not originally being from Barnsley). Apparently the first man from Barnsley since 2001/02 to break the 2:30 barrier. Previously being someone called Terry Field. I’ll have to look that up?