Lindley was unable to pace me round so Maxine had stepped in, we had our instructions, Maxine had apps on her watch all we had to do was run 26.2 miles in sub 4:15 hours.
The only thing I hadn't planned for was a hot day, almost as soon as we started the last little bit of cloud cover disappeared and the sun shone brightly. I've been reading lots of articles on mental toughness and overcoming things you have no control over on race day. All I could control was my pace, hydration, nutrition and keeping positive. So ignore the heat and run...
I ran with Maxine for about three miles, but after a tough weekend running in the Lake District the week before, she told me to go on. So a quick pep talk, which stayed with me I carried on alone. I caught up with John, a fellow member of Great Notley parkrun core team and we ran together till about mile 10, running more or less consistent 9:30 minute miles. I was eating at every even numbered mile marker and that strategy seemed to be working and I felt good but was starting to struggle with the pace. John went on ahead and I focused on running as fast as I could. I got to 13 miles in 2:05 and felt ok. I cooled off with sponges when available kept drinking and stuck to the eating plan.
I chatted to a few people around the course, was pleased to see my sister and nephew and other friends around the course, don't think it was planned but they were at just the right intervals to be perfectly positioned for optimum encouragement. Thank you to you all for the support it was amazing and very much appreciated.
Lindley came out on his bike after taking his daughter home and offered words of encouragement whilst cycling around chatting to people. It helped me to keep running as couldn't get caught walking!!
I have developed a real hatred of miles 18 - 22 in marathons. This is usually the time I will have a mental low point, hate running and wonder why I do this!! It didn't happen this time I was suddenly at 20 miles and still happy!! I knew I wasn't going to make sub 4:15 and just aimed to keep running and do the best time I could.
At mile 21ish I went past a lady crying into her phone. I stopped to check she was ok and see if she needed anything. She was having a rough day but got running again, and we chatted for a bit, before I carried on ahead. Was really pleased to see her finish only a minute or so behind me.
A hug from Kerry was perfectly timed at about 22.5 miles and being told just over a parkrun left spurred me on to get it finished. Mentally I was feeling good, maybe the positive thinking, visualisation and relaxed start really was working.
I finally finished in 4:41:30 and though way off target I'm happy with how it went, I ran almost all of it apart from a few hills (the new hill at mile 14 is evil!) I had to focus and push myself to do this time so really feel it was a step forward it the battle with my head!
I have to say this really was one of my happiest and mentally strong marathons. I genuinely enjoyed every step. Would have preferred it to have been cooler but no point stressing over stuff you can't change.
Thanks again to everyone who supported, friends, family, marshals and other runners. It's always easy to see why Halstead Marathon rates so highly in Runners World it really is a friendly, well organised marathon with a challenging but very pretty course. I am sure I will be back again next year.
Have a good week and happy running xx