Pauline Taylor & Pat Cole represented Wigan Harriers at the Chester Marathon this year:
Well, you may or may not have noticed that Pat and I have been decidedly absent from the Thursday night training for the last few months. Most of you won’t have missed us due to you speedies being up at the front, whilst the two of us always bring up the rear!
I was reading the emails of last week about the choice of Spring 2014 Marathons and I was filled with fear and trepidation. I couldn’t quite fathom out why everyone seemed so enthusiastic and filled with such excitement!
After completing two London Marathons a few years ago, Pat had a place for this years’ event in April. After much thought she decided not to do it but was very disappointed – so I came up with the bright idea to enter the Chester Marathon. Really, I don’t know what I was thinking about, as up until September 2012 when I entered the Tatton Park 10K, I had never entered more than a 5k Race for Life.
So, we got our heads in gear and started our training back in June. We ploughed on week by week and increased our long runs. Our longest run couldn’t have fallen at a worse time, as it was due on the Sunday as we were both returning from holiday. Some of my training had to be when I was on holiday in Cyprus and I have to say it was no joke trying to avoid the 38 degree heat! All credit to my husband who did get up early with me and help me along. We came back from holiday and rearranged the Sunday longest run until the Tuesday and off we went, completing the 22 miles over a really hard route.
On Sunday, 6th October, we arrived bright and early at Chester racecourse. I must say it was very well organised. Our first mistake though, was to get out of the car and head for the portaloos in our running shoes. Five minutes later we came back, socks and shoes absolutely soaked from the morning dew – never even gave it a thought! Footwear removed, we sat in the car with the heater wafting at full blast until they were all dried out. Not to be deterred, when start time approached, we got out of the car sporting high-viz, bright green, M&S carrier bags tied around our feet. But being as well-organised as it was, it wasn’t long before we were supplied with trendy blue overshoes by the organisers.
The race began and we tried to set off slowly, as we’d struggled with our pacing throughout our long run training, telling each other to slow down as we knew we were going too fast.
Out of the racecourse, we made our way through the medieval city walls and headed out through picturesque country lanes and passed through several beautiful villages. A few miles in we had a feeling that we were going further and further back as people were passing us but we passed the same people further on the course who had decided to walk!
At one point, some stampeding cows were running faster than us! We carried on, inspired by a blind man and his guide runner. The guide seemed to be really struggling as the runner continued to drag her round in oblivion to her obvious discomfort. He was in a very jolly mood, singing his head off. When I asked Pat what it was he was singing, she said it was some dirty song about Father Christmas!
The weather was glorious – too hot really. We plodded on with our drinks, bars and gels up to 21.5 miles and then I felt really sickly. At that point I didn’t know if I needed more gel and lucozade or if I’d had too many, so we stuck to the water and agreed to slow down to walking pace. It didn’t help when Red Cross first-aiders on bikes and ambulances seemed to be constantly whizzing past us followed up by the sweeper vehicle.
After a nasty hill at around 24.5 miles we set off running again heading for the finish. I was seriously thinking we’d gone off too early and weren’t going to make it, as I tried to keep my stomach contents down where they belonged! The course re-entered the city centre and down along the cobbled embankment of the beautiful river. The pubs and bars were full of people enjoying a drink and Sunday lunch. There was no way we were going to stop at this point and every Marshall seemed to be saying “just round this corner” and the next and the next.
And then there it was – the sight of the racecourse entrance and we could see the field and the Finish Line. All I could think is I hope it’s the shortest way round the racecourse to the finish. It was.
We continued our sprint to the end – my first and last marathon duly completed.
5 hours 37 mins 32 seconds.
When I checked my Garmin at home later that evening we had completed the last 1.5 miles running under 7 minute kilometres, which for us is a sprint.
With lots of love and thanks to my dearest running friend Pat – I couldn’t have done it without her and to my husband Alan for all his help and support. He has only just started running and supported me on some of my 6am Sunday morning long runs where he clocked up 12 miles on one of the runs.