Taunton Marathon

Posted on April 19, 2010

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Finally, I got down to writing about my run at the Taunton Marathon. I was in a bit of denial to accept that I did not do as well as I had expected. But I also know that it is just the beginning of many more things to come.

Although it was my fifth marathon, it was still my first race event in the UK. Looked around the crowd and yup, I was the only asian. Definitely not your international event like next Sunday’s London marathon.

The race kicked off at 1030 and I almost made a grave mistake of messing up the time. I was there, hanging around the ironbridge runner booth with Lee and Penny. All the while thinking there was still 2 hours to go. By then, the place was already crowded with runners of all shapes and sizes. I checked my phone and was shocked to see the time. My watch was still on GMT! That made me panicked. I was still in my jeans for godsake.

I rushed through my routine. Getting changed, shafting down my cliff bar, pinning the race numbers and doing a rather sloppy warm-up. I felt thirsty but resist the temptation from over-hydrating. While I felt I could do with some energy drink, I forgot to bring one along.

Merging into the crowd, most of which were doing a 1 lap half marathon, the count down began and the crowd surged forward in very relaxed style. I started consciously to keep my pace at around 5.50 to 6.00 min/km.

Armed with 6 packs of SIS Go Gels, I felt quietly confidently under the wonder british sun. The first 3-4 miles were lined with supporters and typical high street stores. That was the easy part of the race. As we entered 5-mile mark, the scenery changed to that of farms and rural landscape. As we were running on dual carriageway, one lane was closed for us while the other lane heading the opposite direction was lined with cars and bikes stuck in traffic on a sunday morning.

I was happy to take in my first gel at the 6-mile mark. By then, I could see some runners struggling, some grinded to a walking pace. I was keeping my fingers crossed that I wouldn’t be in that state come lap 2. All the while, focusing on taking soft, small steps. Reducing the impact on my right knee and the ITB.

There were some beautiful fields filled with host of daffodils as well as treacherous upslopes around the 10-mile mark. Coming into the college, with a 2nd lap to go, I struggled a bit. Probably due to over-hydration. I must have had too much of the bottled water handed out along the route. Then I thought about the sumptuous but low-carbo dinner I had the previous night, hmm, not good.

Finally at the 15-mile mark, I stopped. I was in danger of pulling up my hamstrings and calves. I stretched my legs as I continued at walking pace for about 100 metres. In that time, 2 runners overtook me. No worries, I was still on target for a 4hr finish. But the cramps did not go away. I must have lost too much salt or electrolytes. And true enough, my Nike baselayer was covered with patches of whitish sweat stains at the end of the race.

Hitting the 17-mile mark was a real struggle. At least 10 runners must have overtook me by then. I was in trouble. I had 15 mins to reach 19 miles. Normally, it was seem an easy task. But at a run-walk pace, I was struggling. But I made it. Just 3 mins over. I was still in time for a 4 hr finish.

Going into 20-mile, I felt sleepy and hungry. I was plodding. I was no longer running. I hated that feeling. My 22 mile training run didn’t felt like that at all. I felt frustrated but knew there’s still a chance to get a sub 4:30 finish.

I was ding-donging with this runner (No. 22) until I passed this lady on wheelchair. I was told after the run that she was doing a half. But with some of those slopes, I have my doubts that she will be able to complete the race on her own. As I grinded to walking pace yet again, No.22 pushing the lady, passed me. And now, we passed each other on another few occassions until the dreaded slope before 23 or 24 mile mark. It was pretty steep and I offered my help a little. Coming down the slope after a pub, my quads crammed up badly. Something I suspected got to do with me rubbing muscle rub on them just minutes ago.

I had to walk down the slope. Losing even more time. Then a nice chap offered me some SIS energy drink. Further down, a kind veteran, I assumed to be a marshall, gave some encouraging words.

Afterwhich, I was pretty much alone less some random supporters along the route. Approaching 25 miles, I was surprised when a lady in a rather huge body, overtook me. Checking the official results, she had overtaken another 2 gents ahead of me. It was after crossing a small bridge, a marshall on cycle told us to keep going as we had 6 mins to cut-off. It was smack right in my face! Till then, I had the illusion that there was still 10-12 mins left to 4:30 which was the cut-off.

As painful as it might be, I somehow gathered enough energy to shuffle my legs and kept going to the end.

With the college again in sight, the crowd was gone. But wifey was there to lend support and brought a huge smile on my face.

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Posted in: Race Reports