Our second Manchester Marathon report of the week comes from Runbetweener Karen Rosling. After a brilliant training block and a great first 16 miles it’s a really honest account of what happens when things don’t go to plan during the Marathon. Karen’s story shows that sometimes things don’t play out the way you want on the day and this is something most marathon runners are unlucky enough to understand. At the time it can be hard to accept after all the work you’ve put in but it’s important to regroup and recognise the enormity of the achievement.
Despite debilitating stomach problems Karen showed real grit and determination to finish the run when others would have chucked it and gone home. A truly heroic effort. We also love the bit about Vicki popping up at the right time and supporting Karen across the line. Well done Karen on a fantastic run.
After nearly 4 months of marathon training through the most horrific weather conditions the plan was complete. I was feeling fit and ready to go both mentally and physically. We had a fair few ‘character building’ runs which helpd me develop the mental strength I would need to get me through the 26.2 miles and across the finish line. Trusting the taper was the hardest part of the plan as the miles and frequency of training diminished. Marathon panic set in. Phantom niggles played havoc with my mind and I worried while I was resting for race day I was rapidly loosing fitness.
Race day was here! Surprisingly I was calm when I woke for breakfast and I remained calm throughout the morning, excitement was building. We were actually going to undertake the huge challenge of the marathon. After a mad and very stressful dash to the baggage drop, which turned out to be further away from the start than our hotel we followed the crowds of buzzing runners to our starting pen. Once we had eyes on our pacer, the man that was going to keep us in check we settled and slowly made our way towards the start.
Garmins ready, we were soon on our way. The first 4 miles passed with ease, keeping to the plan of starting off easy we kept with our pacer but everyone was wanting to keep right by him and it was becoming more and more difficult to run without tripping over feet. We decided to run just ahead of him. Unbeknown to us we had increased our pace and as we went through the 10k mark our main man wasn’t just behind us like we thought, he was nowhere to be seen. Feeling good we pressed on, afterall we may need this time for the latter half of the marathon should we ‘hit the wall.’
Running good and feeling fresh, we were ticking off the miles. The crowds and bands throughout the course offered amazing support and we were now looking for our own cheer squad. Expecting to see Vicki, Lee and Anne around miles 8 -9 the next miles were passed reading spectators posters, giving kids high fives and scouring the crowd for our friendly familar faces. As we passed and heard Vicki shout our spirits were lifted and so was our pace. The crowd really do motivate you and keep you going.
As we reached the half way point, I started to feel my stomach growl and spasm. Here I was the girl with the toilet phobia looking for a portaloo – I wouldnt use a portaloo if you offered me a million pounds! As the miles passed my pace slowed and my stomach gave me more and more trouble. By mile 16-18 I was now down to a run walk and by mile 18 I knew I could not run another step. At this point I managed to convince Donna to leave me, and hoped she would still be able to get a decent time. From here on in I spent my race looking for the portaloo.
My race really wasn’t going how I had dreamed. As I walked fellow runners tried to encourage me to run but my stomach just wouldn’t let me. I was starting to get upset and angry at the situation. I had trained so hard and I knew i was better than this. With my head down I walked and walked and walked, the miles taking longer to pass and the clock seeming to speed up. As I continued my sub 4.30 dream was gone and my sub 5 hour wasn’t looking good either – I phoned my mum. Answering the phone she was cheering, she thought I had finished but what she got was a blubbering me!
As I passed a marshall, I asked her where the next toilets were she simply pointed ahead and said that way. I asked how far and she shrugged her shoulders. It took great willpower for me not to punch her right between the eyes. If only she knew how desperate the situation was. Turns out the toilets were 3 miles ahead! Not a good situation at all, at the aid station I seen an empty bin bag which I tied around my waist just incase.
As I approached mile 22 I decided to phone Vicki to tell her to go home as I wasn’t finishing anytime soon. The reality of the situation was just upsetting me and I wished the ground would open up and swallow me. I started to look for another way to the finish line, at this point I realised I did have the grit, determination and stubborness I needed to finish this. The marathon wasn’t going to beat me.
At mile 25 Vicki had walked to meet me. She was a true angel, never have I been so glad to see a friendly, smiling face coming towards me. I don’t know if she was as pleased to see me. I honestly don’t think that I would of finished the race without her. As we rounded the corner onto the home stretch I really didn’t thimk I could walk another step. I could see the finish but I was done. I eventually crossed the line in5 hours 20 minutes. Totally gutted and so disappointed.
But as I crossed the finish I knew I would need to do another marathon. On this occassion the marathon beat me but I will be back to beat the marathon and hopefully achieve my goal time.