So if you read part 1, you know this is a week after my race in the Bournemouth marathon. I want to share my experience for anyone else looking to to run it or wanting to know how my training worked out.
Having been to Uni in Bournemouth I had some friends to see on the Saturday so went down from Bristol in the early afternoon and checked out the beach, saw the finish line and caught the end of some kids races. Really nice experience for children and I hope it motivates them to love sport forever. We avoided hotels and made use of an Air b&b room in someone’s house in Winton. This was the same set up we used for my Southampton Spring marathon. They were happy for my to use pans to make my morning porridge and the house was really quiet.
On Saturday evening we met up with Luke, who ran it last year, for a drink and some dinner at the local Italian. I may have had a pint which I probably should have avoided, but run, life balance and all that. My pasta was a good portion so I would recommend Bellaggios if you are looking for some food.
On race morning I woke up feeling fine and got a lift off Dani to the start where she dropped me off. There were some queues to the car park but you can easily drop off outside of the car park. I walked down to where the baggage trucks are and made use of the loo at the athletics stadium before I put my bag in. Not too bad for queues but there is plenty by the start pen. Easy to get bags handed in and I made a short walk from luggage lorries to the start and found some space to go through my warm up routine.
I got into the start pen with about ten minutes to go and bumped into James off Instagram! (@shoulderrunner). It was nice to have a chat and settle my nerves but as the start got nearer I began to focus more. My aim for the race was 3:05 but accepting that I might blow up a bit and get 3:15 (all the time really only thinking about 3:05).
The race started and off I went. I managed to get my pace to where I wanted it fairly quickly which was helped by being in the front white pen. Before I knew it we were heading on a slight decline so I used that to up my pace but focusing on maintaining effort levels. This worked and I was feeling good by the 5k point and felt I was being controlled with my pacing. By increasing slightly on the downs it would compensate for when I would go up!
At about mile 4 when we turned at Hengitsbury Head, I took on some water and this was when my race began to change. For some reason it did not sit well with my belly and I began to get discomfort in my belly. Nothing so serious I should stop but not what it should be like after a few miles. I continued on and soon went on a slight incline but was holding my pace and feeling capable, even if my belly was not.
After an hour I took on board my first gel about mile 9 and near a water station but this just made the belly funny again. By the time we got to the beach I was on the time targets I had set myself. Even if the race mile markers did not match up with my garmin. This was frustrating as I didn’t know what to believe. I decided that if the mile was the time it said, it didn’t matter if it was the correct mile as long as for that mile I did it at that speed.
From about mile 5 I felt like I was running rather solo. There was a group of about 6-8 up ahead but I could not get to them or keep with them so I made the decision to let them go and stay focused. This solo running continued until I got onto the beach for the first time when I picked up a small group. This helped keep me going but I was trying to focus on my pace and if I felt they were too slow I would go past or if they were too fast let them go. It was all about my pace.
I did weirdly feel a bit selfish about the race as I had my own goals. I didn’t even interact too much with the kids because I wanted to hold my line. I had my head down and I was trying to do what I had to do.
We finally came to the first incline in Boscombe gardens and it was tough. Fairly short but still tough and then you do a small little loop which was more of a chance to get the legs back to normal before continuing onwards. As we got to the top of the decline to Bournemouth pier just past half way, I made the decision to open the legs up going down. All the time not using more effort. I didn’t take the bend too well and it was hard to then re accelerate. I just managed to spot Dani in the crowd which was a nice surprise.
The next part was out to Boscombe pier and back to Bournemouth pier. This is where my race began to unravel. After getting through half way in 1:31 I was feeling good but only a mile later I was really struggling. The first pier was tough, my legs were telling e they were tired. Then on the way back I spotted James who was looking comfortable and that helped motivate me more. Round Bournemouth pier and I was finding it tough. My pace had slowed.
At this marathon they do this wonderfully motivating thing of making you run through the finish line at mile 17, just before the massive hill. As I ran under, feeling awful, the clocked hit 2:00:00, I can still picture it now. It crushed me. I would have to run 9 miles in an hour, including up this big hilly section. If I was feeling more positive I would have thought about how I could make to up on the flat last 6 miles and the down hill. But I wasn’t and all I could think about was how much it sucked.
I approached the hill with the best intentions of running up it, getting the race back on track and maybe getting 3:10 instead. The hill beat me and I had to run walk up it. The route at the top then became very lonely as I was struggling and solo for pretty much all of it. By this point my belly was really suffering and I tried an energy cube I had but had no energy to even chew it and didn’t want to risk more issues with a gel.
As I finally headed down to the beach I saw Dani on the bend as planned. She thought she would’ve handing me a gel but was flashing a W with my hand for water. Luckily she got it. I stopped for a big drink telling her I felt sick. Then jogged 20 steps before bending over and wretching. This was ridiculous. I felt awful and my legs were useless. My pace was really slowing and I needed up doing a lot of run walking just to make it back.
The part of the course out to Poole was tough because I knew I would be coming back but I though once I turned around it would be okay but the run walk co rubies. I managed to find a couple of good paced stints but not enough to get me home under 3:15. A surge in speed need the end as I approached the funnel nearly cause some cramp but that stayed away and I finished in 3:15:38.
At the finish line I didnt want to move. I got my medal and badge went to the grass, saw Dani and then lay down on the grass to get some energy back. Luke had made it to the finish too and offered to collect my luggage which was really kind and helpful of him.
My first thoughts were how I should be happy after feeling so bad and struggling but I knew for sure that I did not want to do Bournemouth again. Those hills were horrible and the heat just drained me! I would however, suggest to anyone else that it is worth doing as the views are great. It just might not be a real PB course.
After the race I went for a dip in the sea to mirror my ice baths. My body was so hot it did not feel as cold as it maybe should have but I’m glad I did it.