Having dropped out of my last marathon at 21 miles, 3 year ago, I did not want to finish running marathons on a DNF. So the aim for this race was just to finish.
And as we progressed into the third of five laps and I tried to pick the pace up and race, I could tell that the training I had done, although good enough to get around , it wasn't going to let me do much more. As a result I was forced to ease back as we moved into lap 4.
The race, which incorporated both the BMAF and VAANEE championships started under bright blue skies and although there was a light breeze blowing across the moor, it wasn't going to cause too much trouble. Starting conservatively I was content to just take in the scenery and let anyone who wanted to pass me, do so. After 2 laps I was lying in 30th place and thanks to championship runners wearing the age group on their backs, I knew I was 2nd M55. This latter fact worried me a little, as from looking at he start list, I knew there were at least two other M55's who were faster than me.
Then as we moved into the third lap two runners about a yard apart with 55 age group numbers came past. The interesting thing, though, was although the first of the two was moving easily, the second seemed to be working hard to maintain his pace. However, there was no way I could hang onto them.
Moving into lap 4 I was starting to struggle and since the aim was to just finish I decided to ease back. As we climbed the incline towards the switchback on Grandstand Road I realised that Morpeth's Gavin Baines had moved back up to second M55 ahead of the guy I had noticed earlier was having to work to maintain his pace. In fact as we passed each other going in opposite directions I noticed that he was now going no faster and if anything slower than I was. Instinctively I started working out the distance between us and how long it might take me to catch him.
As we headed down the Great North Road on the fifth and final lap, however he seemed to be a little to far ahead. But then as we turned back onto the moor and doubled back upon ourselves I realised that he was slowing again and that I could catch him. Which I did at around 25 miles. As we cut across the moor, the wind which had been picking up throughout the race was now pretty strong and the rain started to fall. However, I hung on to cross the line in 3.27.36 for 35th place and 3rd place in the BMAF championships and 2nd in the VAANNE championships.
So with the aim of finishing achieved, will this have been my last marathon?
Well, possibly not...
Results can be found at North East Races.
As usual, photographs by Francesca, more photos can be seen here.