I’ve been building up to the Milton Keynes Marathon since the end of January and finally race day arrived. Having spent the past three months trying to combine two and three hour runs with a busy life as a chiropractor I was looking forward to race day and then a well-deserved rest.
Bank Holiday Monday started with a 6.30am alarm clock, a hearty breakfast of porridge and then a short drive down to Milton Keynes. The sun was shining and it was warm, warmer than I’d hoped. I nervously stood on the start line knowing that the next few hours would bring a combination of pain and hopefully a sense of achievement. The race itself started gently enough winding through what apparently constitutes the centre of Milton Keynes. There were a few undulations but it was pleasant enough if not a little dull running through the city and there was a reasonable amount of support. After about 8 miles the course headed out on to open dual carriageway and you began to feel the effect of the sun beating overhead. I started looking forward to the water stops an opportunity not just to take a drink but also to try and cool down.
Unfortunately as the marathon and half marathon groups split just before halfway I started to feel not quite as fresh and between 13 to 16 miles the pace got harder to maintain. Beyond 16 miles I knew that I was slowing quite dramatically ad that the body had given up and I spent the last 10 miles in a mental battle to keep the legs moving. Everybody says respect the marathon and certainly it can catch you unaware and suddenly have the entire body aching at every step. Beyond 16 miles the course had a few more cruel twists and turns in the form of many underpasses. Instead of running along the dual carriageway you run on some of the cities pedestrian walkways. Unfortunately this means multiple short, sharp inclines and descents as you pass the many roundabouts that Milton Keynes is so famous for and this was absolutely brutal on already tired legs. I can’t say I remember too much of the latter part of the race other than the final couple of miles towards the finish and the relief at crossing the line and the pain being over.
I eventually finished in a time of 4 hour 9 minutes and 2 seconds and felt devastated. However this was a personal best and so I suppose I should be proud of my effort. I beat my time from the London Marathon four years ago and on a much tougher course without the crowd going crazy in support of the runners. A few hours of nausea followed and then the realisation that I’d omitted sun cream on my neck and shoulders and my poor pale white skin was akin to roast beef. A lesson for next time! Will I return to Milton Keynes for another marathon? Absolutely not; but I will be back to do a sub 4 hour marathon I’m sure of it!