Smells like Marathon Spirit

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The skies where clear, it was mild and it was Marathon Monday.

However when I woke up on the May Bank Holiday Monday it was far from clear skies! I opened the curtains to a dull and wet morning where the rain was bouncing off the street.

My first experience of Marathon life was looking like it was going to be spent wet and miserable, paired with a sleepless night with a son who didn’t want to sleep on his own meant I could have easily crawled back into bed. The usual race thoughts ran through my head however the thought of hanging about Belfast all day in the rain made me feel miserable.

It was ok though, all 5 of us felt the same and questioned who’s bright idea was this…again sadly, that was me!

But my belief that there was a God was strengthened as we approached Belfast. The skies brightened and it looked like the rain was going to disappear.

Leaving Lauren, Tara and Thomas off at Ormeau Park to get their buses to their starting points was odd. It was the Team Relay we were part taking in and I was abandoning my team! Where’s the fun in that? Michael and I heading into town to park the car and made our way to City Hall.

City Hall was surrounded by blue portaloos and there where plenty of people tooting about with plastic bags on them, obviously they woke up to the same weather I had done! The music was booming and the reality that in less than 6 months I’d be gearing up for my own marathon gave me butterflies.

There was the usual pre race warm ups with 3 overly energetic people doing aerobics however they where accompanied by a host of oompah loompas which was extremely entertaining.

I was in awe at the field of marathoners around me. All shapes and sizes, some local, some definitely not local. Their pre race warm ups where what I would call a race in itself. There was also the look of fear in many people’s faces.  26.2 mile is not to be sniffed at and I am sure they had put the hours and hours of training in all in preparation for the task ahead.

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Michael and I at the start line.

I kissed Michael good luck and headed up to the first corner. He had a sketchy plan to run numerous legs and see how far he could manage. I’ll be honest I was just out for the experience and wasn’t in anyway inclined to want to do more than my bit.

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As I heard the Claxton sound, the race was under way. I was mesmerised by the sheer volume of people. I recognised a few faces from 10k races as they led the pack at the first corner…obviously gunning for their team to win the relay event.

I made my way to Bridge End to my starting point where not so long after the race started the leaders where already finishing their first 6 mile. I have never seen anything so graceful. The lead men where like gazelles. So elegant and running like they where floating. A 30mins 6miles is impressive as a normal run but these runners had another 20 to go and I am sure they didn’t even slow down the whole time.

As the 50min barrier approached I knew I had to be on the look out for the bright orange vest. I have to admit the organisation of the relay change over was a shambles and no prior information sent out in advance. So it was simply a matter of spot and mob your team mate. Around 56 minutes Michael appeared.

I had already written the text to send to Thomas to tell him we were on route so hit send and tried to get going. Dear god would my legs go! Standing still for 30mins was not a great idea and after a 1km in I was worried I’d never get moving.  I knew the hills at the Falls where coming and I needed loose legs to manage it. I did realise that even though I was struggling, I was running my own race pace.  I felt like I was keeping Michael back but he assured me that I was doing great and not to worry.

It was nice to share the leg with him and have him beside me. The crowd support as we came through the town and up the Falls was immense and a credit to all the locals who where inconvenienced by closed roads etc. Kids got involved and even the Nuns at Clonard where out cheering us on. Also a bonus to have your name on your bib as it was great to get the odd “come on Siobhan” as we tackled the hill.

I did genuinely want to get a 5k personal best but as I was running I didn’t feel on form and the hills are not pb material in general! As we approached the hand over point I knew I had just missed out on a pb  but was proud I’d managed the distance and the climb in a reasonable time. Only 28 secs out!

Michael pushed on with Thomas and it turned out that His wee rest running with me was just enough recovery for him to make it to the 17 mile mark at the end of stage 3. I have to admit I think he is crazy to have done that but on the other hand I am proud he managed it. At least he’s only another 9 mile to find…I’ve 16!

Thomas had the joys of meeting hero and local Olympic legend Paddy Barnes on route which I am sure made his day! Lauren blasted through her leg managing to over take and leave behind in her dust, our own local footballing county player and Tara brought it home for us with a strong finish where we came in under 4 hours as a team.

Unbelievable!

When the results came in we worked it out that we came in the top 25% of the relay teams that took park…us… near the top of the leader board. Go Us.

While we were at it, we have raised just short of £500 for the local hospice.

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So next big race is my first Half Marathon in Lisburn. Hoping I don’t have the same stiffness I had yesterday as I’d never make it to the end!

So head down and motor on…

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