My marathon journey began near on a year ago when two of my running friends (one being Kirsty Darcy, fellow SJ member) and I were, surprise, surprise, unsuccessful in the London ballot so we decided to enter another marathon and Bournemouth was our marathon of choice as it was on around the same time as the ballot results came out.
So fast forward a year, and last Sunday we got to pop our marathon cherries as we were all running Bournemouth as our first marathon.
During the week running up to the race, I was trying to dodge all the horrible colds going around at home and at work and I thought I had been successful in doing so but awoke on the Saturday morning with a bit of a sniffle and tickly throat – just what I didn’t need on marathon weekend – so I dosed myself up and kept my fingers crossed that I could keep the cold at bay until after the big day.
I traveled down to Bournemouth on a wet and windy Saturday afternoon where we had all booked into a hotel near to the start where we enjoyed a pre-race meal together along with our families who were all down to support us through the race.
An early-ish night should have led to a good nights sleep but alas the cold seemed to take hold making for a disturbed nights sleep. I eventually gave in to not getting anymore sleep at 6am so got up and took my time to get ready. Breakfast in the hotel, and then we got a lift to the start area which was a short drive away.
On arriving at the start area in Kings Park, we found fellow SJ Caroline Stuart and also bumped into Jackie Brighton. A trip to the toilets in the athletics stand which reminded us of toilets back in school, and then it was bag drop time and time to head off to the start pens. Luckily, the wind and rain from yesterday had gone, the sun had made an appearance but it was rather chilly waiting for the start.
I said my goodbyes and good lucks to the others and made my way to the red start pen ready for the race to start at 10am. After a couple of minutes, we were off. The race starts inland and the first 3 miles or so are running down towards the coast. The course winds back and forth along the coast between Boscombe and Christchurch until mile 12. This meant that I passed the girls en route running in the other direction and it was nice to share a wave and cheer of encouragement with them. At mile 12, the first steep hill hit us, a sharp climb up through the gardens, at the top of which I was pleased to see my friends’ families waiting for their arrival.
The next few miles are zig zagged between Boscombe pier and Bournemouth pier and it was along here that I was greeted by the friendly faces of Jim Laidlaw and Wayne Boardman who were walking along the front after their half marathons, and also by the awesome SJ cheer squad at the end of Boscombe pier. Apparently my husband and daughter also spied me from high up in the ferris wheel whilst I was left wondering where the hell they were! I eventually saw them at mile 17 before I headed off down Bournemouth pier, and then again as I came off the pier. After the pier, a cruel fate happens as you actually run under the finish line, so unfair, and other runners seemed to stop and think they had actually finished!
Unfortunately it wasn’t over at that point, and to make matters worse we then had to conquer an awful hill at mile 17.5 up the Westcliffe which took its toll on me and I had to give in and walk up it. I had run up this hill before, my memory of which was that it wasn’t that bad, but I guess being in the middle of a marathon made it 10 times worse. After this hill, I lost my mojo a bit and found the next few miles hard, very quiet with little support as we headed down towards Poole. This stretch seemed to go on forever.
At mile 23, we made the turn back towards Bournemouth and I got back in the zone a bit. I could see the pier in the distance but it still seemed a hell of a long way to go!
I was relieved to see the finish line approaching, I was so focused on crossing that line that I was totally oblivious to my family and friends cheering me on at the end.
After I made my way through the finish area to collect my goodie bag and medal, followed by a long walk through the gardens to retrieve my bag, I made my way back to find my family and enjoyed a paddle in the sea with my daughter to soothe my aching feet. It was rude not to on a sunny warm day by the seaside and the perfect way to end my first marathon.