Time – 3:45:07, 6 April 2014 – fastest time by 10 mins
What a marathon, what a day. Setting off at 6.30am from the good side of Leeds I was lucky enough to see the sun shine over the north west before the clouds rolled in and as I played my usual game of first to spot the Blackpool Tower (even though I was on my own in the car) I was suddenly confronted by a beautiful field of golden yellow rape seed, blue sky and the Tower standing proud on the horizon; for a moment it was surreally beautiful.
The start of the marathon is at the Hilton up past North Pier and as I waited for the start I heard 2 amusing things – 1) a woman asking if there was a queue for the loo, well of course and 2) a Glaswegian saying to his pal, you looking for a place to have a pee??? It just reminded me that there is one thing that unites all marathon runners – the pre-race nervous loo stop.
The race started on time, once the ambulance blocking the start had been encouraged to move and then we were off. As marathon’s go it was quite a small field with just 393 marathons completing the course; ranging in times from 2:34:52 to 6:46:22.
The course runs down to South Shore, just past the Pleasure Beach, then turns around back up past the Hilton, on past Bispham and further on before turning round back down to South shore up again and then back for the final time.
Weather was cloudy, slightly warm but extremely windy when running downwards, initially this was not an issue and for 22 miles I was running (for me) an exceptional marathon, I was tuned in and keeping an avid eye on my pace, varying little from 8.12 to 8.30. But those last 4 miles on the final turn around, running down (south) the lower prom were some of the hardest miles I have run. The wind added an extra 2 mins per mile and I have to admit at this point I was wishing it was over as it felt like a battle all the way but I fought on and thankfully never stopped, never wavered, focused in on the task and there was some great support around mile 24 where people were stood in the wind and rain cheering everyone on. The final half mile involved a climb over a cobbled road but then miraculously after the final turn I was pointed north and the wind disappeared leaving a nice view of the finish in the distance. The last few hundred metres were a joy and I attempted a sprint finish as someone appeared on my shoulders but I felt my calfs scream IDIOT so I let him have his victory and I rolled in mere seconds afterwards and my sense of achievement was palpable. I was on my own, I was knackered and I had run my best ever marathon at 3:45:47 (in the top 50% of finishers)
During the marathon I used 33Shake endurance gel – a non carb non sugar organic gel that has a great vanilla kick and based on chia seeds. For breakfast I had natural yoghurt, chopped apple followed by 2 boiled eggs as I am following a low carb high fat diet which has switched my fuel burning to fat burning from carbs. The results have been dramatic (2 stone weight loss), sustained and now proven in the marathon.
After completing the marathon I managed to make it back to the car, get changed in one of those fancy pay loos where I also managed to press the alarm button instead of the flush as I had taken my glasses off and had a mild panic as I thought the doors were about to burst open! This was then followed by a little trip to Bispham for fish and chips from my favourite Blackpool chippy and whilst it was a bit blustery to indulge on a bench overlooking the sea I did have a look out to sea with what must have looked like a stupid grin on my face.
Will I do it again, you bet, did I enjoy it, yes it went like clockwork and it is a low key no stress affair which is a world away from the likes of London. It has plenty of PB potential and if you live in the north it is pretty easy to get to and from. OK so it is in Blackpool but if you run fast you don’t have to linger!