The life of a runner, mother, radiopharmacist and vicar's wife – that's me!
Yesterday I ran in the Excalibur Marathon. This was the craziest marathon I have and probably ever will run in. Partly due to the almost complete lack of training for it (4 weeks before the longest runs I had done was 15 miles once and 10 miles, also once, and my total average weekly ascent was about 500 ft as it is pretty flat were I live). This marathon was over the hills of north Wales (an awful lot of up and down), a proper trail marathon which was a bit of a shock for a road running wimp like me.
Facts and Figures
Distance : 26.2 miles (pretty obvious I know but some of these trail marathons aren’t actually 26.2 miles, so worth stating)
Location: Clwydian Hills of North Wales
Ascent: The race organisers say >5500 ft (Strava said 5998 ft and the TomTom watch said 5627 ft – either way, it was an awful lot of up and down hill).
Nutrition: 1 Mars Bar and 2 Snickers Bars
Hydration: About 1 litre of water
Weather: Pouring with rain at the start becoming light drizzle and eventually dry but with a bit of a wind thrown in for good measure.
Clothing: Capri leggings, long sleeve top, waterproof coat (North Face walking jacket which I had to wear the whole way round due to the weather!), hat and gloves (part of the way).
Shoes: Nike Zoom Kiger 2 (basically very nice shoes but slippery on wet wood and wet stone so I very nearly fell over a couple of times)
Fastest mile: Mile 20 @ 8.21 min/mile (but it was downhill!).
Slowest mile: Mile 25 @16.12 min/mile (it was a very steep uphill). I did mile 26 in 8.29.
Running companions: Anne (who won in her first ever marathon, although she is a bit of a fell runner which showed when it came to the ups and downs – purple top and blue shorts behind me) and Caz (ultra distance maniac who thinks that a marathon is something to be run every weekend, preferably twice a weekend if possible – black top just being me). Most excellent running companions ever even if they did run away from me on the steep bit around mile 17 (I must actually practice on some hills if we ever do this again).
Best moment: Apart from finishing of course, the best part was the amazing view (once the rain had cleared) especially in the last few miles. People say Big Sur marathon has the best views but I reckon that this one must come pretty close.
Worst moment: Going down the hill towards Moel Arthur. With it being wet and slippery underfoot and having already nearly slipped over backwards a couple of times, the very steep descent over slippery stone was not a great experience (mind you going back up it again at around 22-23 miles was also mildly unpleasant but at least not too scary).
Funniest moment: As we queued up to use the Portaloos at the start, a lady tried one of the doors (I think it was showing both green and red so she wasn’t sure if it was engaged). She pulled the door and opened it to reveal an embarrassed man on the toilet! Unfortunately for him, it was the portaloo in full view of the queue rather than one of the end ones. The lady rather quickly shut the door with which a bit of plastic flew off. She picked it up. “Ah, I think this is the lock!” she said. You had to be there, it was very funny.
Most unhelpful comment: As we set off I felt that there was something in my right shoe. Anne suggested that perhaps it was my foot. Strangely enough, that was exactly what it was, it was just that my feet had got cold waiting at the start so it was a bit numb.
Goody bag: Technical T-shirt (quite nice and actually fits for a change), medal (doubles up as a bottle opener, see below), orange marzipan thing covered in chocolate (nice), token for chilli and nachos (tasty), Zero tablets (makes a rehydration drink), small bottle of shampoo (useful for travelling but not edible unfortunately).
Room for improvement: This race showed that I’m pretty rubbish at going up steep hills and even worse at coming down them. If I’m going to do this race again then I will have to do some proper hill training in some proper hills.
Overall impression: Well marshalled (I think it would be difficult to get lost) and well organised race in a beautiful location. So happy for Anne because she won but also really happy to get under 5 hours when I thought that 5.30 was much more likely.