Home, Blog index

Ow! Ow! Ow!
2007-09-17: That's the most conversation you'll be getting out of me today. I ran the Nottingham marathon yesterday. Oh yes.
I was just two and a half hours behind the winner, Nathaniel Williams from North Yorks Moors AC who did the 26.2 miles in 2 hours, 29 minutes and 39 seconds (just 10.48 mph). I did it in 4 hours 59 minutes and 37 seconds. In fact, as I passed the start again having done the first half, and the half marathon people peeled away, I heard them announce the marathon winner go through the tape, so he was pretty much double my speed.
They provide a chip timing device which measures both your time to the finish from the starting gun as well as the time from when you cross the start line to the finish. In a run with 13,000 runners as this had, it can take a while (6 minutes) before you actually cross the start line.
I can't find a list of marathon runs by the number of competitors, but 13,000 runners seems pretty big, but actually only 1,059 completed the marathon before everyone went home, so, assuming very few dropped out, the majority of the 13,000 were half marathon runners and possibly also fun runners. Yes, 6,507 half marathon finishers.
I took the half decent pocket camera, the Canon Digital Ixus 65 with me.
So here's the view in the 4hrs 40 section at the start .. you are asked to get in the queue at more or less your timing so there's not a big problem with overtaking.
At the start looking forwards, 10:00 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathonAt the start looking backwards, 10:00 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathonActually at the start, 10:12 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathon
Up towards the train station. I'm from near Nottingham originally, so I chose this marathon partly for that reason.
Towards the railway station, 10:23:40 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathon
Up to the so-called castle. Incidentally most of these shots were taken while running, so thankfully the sun was out and the shutter speeds were fast.
Up to Nottingham Castle, 10:29:44 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathon
Some did the run with a handicap.
For Nottingham Hospital Radio, 10:32:56 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathon
Special mention to www.micknphil-marathonlads.co.uk, it kinda puts things in perspective doesn't it? Take a look at the site, isn't that beautiful? They came in just six minutes after me. Apparently they were on Radio 5 Live later in the day. These two pictures are four hours apart.
Mick 'n' Phil Curry, 10:35:40 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathonMick 'n' Phil Curry, 14:35:44 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathon
It's a nice feeling when the streets have no cars. This is Castle Boulevard, and it's ours :-)
Castle Boulevard, 10:34:46 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathon
Alright, here's a curious thing. Unfamiliar camera, so at the start I accidentally took video sometimes. As we ran up towards Queen's Medical Centre and the university, the leaders had already run around the university and Wollaton Park and were heading back and I caught a snippet of, I think, the leader as he ran past. Blink and you miss him. Now it is downhill a little for him there, but still. Normally you see these things from a distance, but here, he runs straight by me. I've no idea how this will work on your machine, it's a 10Mb AVI, whatever that is, and it's followed by me putting the camera down thinking I've just taken a photograph. Try it. You might have to right click and save it first.
Here's the guy in second, he's not even touching the ground. Actually, if you check the half marathon results, these are half marathon guys. The chap in second is Tomas Abyu from Salford Harriers. The chap in the video is probably Simon Tonui from Kenya who, if we assume the numbers represent last year's results (big assumption), won it last year too.
Tomas Abyu on Derby Road, Queens Med, 10:52:40 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathon
Around the university lake
Nottingham University, 11:03:48 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathon
into Wollaton Park, you can see my mum and dad in the crowd in the last picture. I actually took it because in the run up to Wollaton Park we ran through a housing suburb and I was starting to get buoyed up by people just out sitting on their walls or on picnic chairs cheering and clapping and shouting encouragement, and at this point in Wollaton Park lots of people had gathered and it felt really good to see and hear everyone.
Wollaton Park, 11:36:06 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathonWollaton Park, 11:41:26 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathonWollaton Park, 11:42:46 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathon
There's a fair amount of debris after a drinks station. Later on, you get kids jumping on the half empty bottles to make them squirt. I heard one lad, really impressed he'd found an unopened Lucozade. Before the drinks station at about 22 miles, a girl and boy ran up to the chap in front of me: "Dad! Run dad run", then without a breath the lad said "can you get me a free Lucozade?"
One chap wrote once in Runner's World magazine that he'd twisted his ankle and dropped out of a race after stepping on a discarded water bottle. He wanted everyone to be more careful about where they throw their bottles. Well, that's not going to happen. He wanted 12,999 other runners to think of him. Nah. Just look where you're putting your feet, mate. Anyway, the wind was picking up so it didn't really matter where you threw them.
After the drinks station, 11:51:48 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathonAfter the drinks station, coming up to Queens Med island, 11:52:16 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathon
This lovely lady offered me a jelly baby and a spray from her water bottle.
Jelly baby lady, 12:03:30 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathon
Someone was awake and paying attention when buying billboard space for this campaign
Run Fatboy Run billboard ad, 12:17:34 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathon
Whoa, wait a minute, am I making the right decision here? My halfway point is back at the start. Look at the proportion of runners on the half to the full.
The half marathon runners split off to the finish, 12:34:00 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathonHalfway, 12:36:12 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathon
So now, this is a completely different race. It's kinda lonely. The time discrepancy, incidentally, is because I met my partner at this point. Shockingly, I'd forgotten to wear my heart rate monitor and timer on the morning, got to the start and realised. So she'd gone back to get it and I put it on for the second half. Truth is, though, I'm used to how the heart rates feel now so, it would have been nice to have my timings from the start but hey, no real problem, it's just a comfort blanket. So anyway, simple as it may seem, make a list of what you need to take with you, and what you need to do on the morning.
Starting the second half, 12:40:42 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathon
I knew we ran around the Holme Pierrepont lake in the second half of the course, but it seemed to take forever to get to it. Then this. Take a look, first view after 3 hours 36 minutes of running (note that nothing photo-worthy had happened in the last hour):
The lake at Holme Pierrepont, 13:36:30 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathon
the view up the lake
The lake at Holme Pierrepont, 13:42:10 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathon
and down the lake
The lake at Holme Pierrepont, 13:42:20 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathon
So. I've got to run up the lake, around the bottom, and a long way up the far side (actually to the white building you see in the 'up the lake' shot). Then turn around and run back again to the point where I'm standing now (which is what the oncoming runners are doing). Then all the way down the lake, around the bottom, and up the far side to the point where I turned around before. And to emphasise it, at the top end of the lake they were playing Round Round by Sugababes on the tannoy. Love the song, but it did emphasise how we were feeling. This could get you down.
The lake at Holme Pierrepont, 14:05:04 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathon
Did I mention how big this lake was?
The lake at Holme Pierrepont, 14:10:12 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathon
And lonely?
The lake at Holme Pierrepont, 14:10:12 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathon
And when we turned the corner to do the last long edge .. a headwind. I walked.
The lake at Holme Pierrepont, 14:16:30 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathon
The lake took about an hour.
What gets you through that is the marshalling. I can't tell you how beautiful and uplifting the marshalling and everyone involved were. I was filling up every five minutes at this point. It doesn't matter that "you're doing a great job", "just a few miles more", "you're amazing keep going", "nearly there", "you're looking great" has all been said by the marshalls to the other thousand runners ahead of you, they were all beautiful enough to say it like they meant it, and .. it doesn't help your legs and you can't run any faster, but it just makes you happy. I mean, look at this: A mexican wave for each and every one of us. They didn't have to do that. But they were having fun and it absolutely changes the world.
A mexican wave for us all: fantastic marshalling, 14:32:12 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathon
At the last half mile, a little lady marshall offered to carry me over the line, and as we walked back after the finish we passed her and I explained to my partner what she'd offered and thanked them for being so fantastic and she came over for a big hug.
All of which rather mitigates some of the bad feelings we have about Nottingham which I've blogged about previously. Maybe judging Nottingham by its Robin Hoodness is like judging Americans by what Bush does.
Anyway, back to serious business. You'd think the 24 mile marker would be a good thing wouldn't you. But it's a bad thing. Still 2.22 miles to go. And you know, by now, what it takes to run another mile. Plus there's nothing you can do any more to run any faster. Drinkers at the boat club wanted a sprint finish. Not possible.
The 24 mile marker, 14:46:18 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathon
But finally, in sight of Trent Bridge
Trent Bridge in view at last, 14:52:20 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathon
The finish line at last. It looks almost like I've run so much my head's fallen off, but no such luck.
The finish line, 15:12:10 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathon
I don't want a foot spa and poked fun at it when it arrived at my in-law's house, but today it was the only container big enough for my size 14s. With cold water to cut down any swelling. For some reason Chalky took to drinking the water.
My feet in cold water where they belong 16:41:48 16 September 2007. Experian Festival of Running, Nottingham marathon
So. Conclusions. It's my first marathon so I've nothing to compare the Nottingham Marathon's organisation to, but it all seemed good to me. I'd like a bit more informative signage: like maybe how many drink stations are left and how far to the next. It wasn't clear ahead which stations had water and which just had lucozade too so I had to ask a few times. And the lake, of course. There were a few times where we just ran somewhere then turned around and came back and that's kinda boring. Running around the lake, fine, but running around it and doubling back so we run around it a bit more .. nah. I know there's the mental challenge, but there's enough challenge. Oh, and the finish. You're really on your last legs, run under Trent Bridge to the suspension bridge which is right near the finish line, then turn the wrong way and run back up to Trent Bridge again, only to turn around and come back again. Maybe the route planners ought to run the route themselves :-) Can't we stretch out the wrinkles in the course and run somewhere interesting?
The marshalling is the thing. Just huge love to all those who encouraged and waved and clapped. Spectators too: the people in "And So To Bed" waving through the window, and the lady just sat on a concrete pillar around mile 24, dangling her legs, clapping and encouraging us as we ran past. The people who sit outside their house to cheer us on, and those who come out to see it all. My family, too, thanks so much for coming out and supporting.
For me personally, I've sorted blood sugars, the mental side of it's not a problem, shoes and clothes and podiatry insoles are all sorted, I'm fine from a cardiovascular point of view, I just need to do the training, my issue is just muscular and the fact that this time, unlike my other two goal runs, I only did half my training. So now I ache a bit today and have to lift my legs with my hands every now and then when that bit of musculature doesn't work.
The weird one is my inner thighs ache, and we investigated in an anatomy book and those are the muscles that let you cross your legs. No idea why those would ache more. And now I feel a bit ill and that's just a psychosomatic link between feeling uncomfortable and in a bit of pain with being ill. I'm not ill, I just ache a bit. I've a couple of beautiful blisters though. And two good hand-sized patches of inner thigh chafing, oh yes! I've not really had that before. Oh, and there could be the 'comedown' effect from the high of yesterday. Other than that, all's well, which is pretty spiffing. All I have to do now is not pull or twang something while I'm walking like John Wayne. That happened the last two years so gotta be very careful while everything repairs.
Walking around town the other day I was walking on air. It's a fantastic feeling to be fit, to feel capable. Walking's like driving a sports car for me, I can feel that just one tweak on the accelerator and I'd be at 70mph. My legs are like puppy dogs: "fantastic, where are we going, can we go here, and there, and everywhere". If you've never experienced fitness but get highs from alcohol or whatever, I think it's worth the effort. I used to get a bad back: not any more. I used to have a bad knee: not any more. Biology doesn't wear out like a machine, it gets stronger with use. With biology: use it, or lose it.
There's also a sports thing going on. It's not like I'm mentally scarred from it, but there's a massive popular emphasis on national team sports and I've never ever been part of it. At school, despite having good friends and being normally popular and so on, when it came to picking teams, I'd be almost literally last to be picked, to the point that people were being picked ahead of me that had no friends, one eye and hairy palms. I never did work that out, but everyone must have thought I was a sporting liability. Maybe it was the day I inadvertently stopped those who do enjoy sport from having their moment by working out I could just stand at the cricket stump and do nothing but place my bat in front of the stump and I'd be 'in' all day because they weren't good enough bowlers to hit the stump. That might have set the scene. Cross country running was cross country walking, for me, and as soon as I was old enough I'd basically take the number 5 bus into Nottingham instead of going to sports lesson.
But here's the thing. I was into sport. I was a great badminton player. And I used to go home, exercise at home, and go out in an evening and seriously train .. hard .. for cycling. Then I'd go out on my bike on a Sunday, 70 miles maybe. I even started to go out running in an evening.
So I am into sport, but like most things in my life, I follow my own path and most of the time it's the road less well travelled. Well, maybe what it is is, I'm into fitness, but competing doesn't interest me in the slightest, in fact, it puts me off. So another beautiful aspect of the marathon is the applause and encouragement you get from those who have completed it, who you pass on the way to the finish line. At one point where runners passed each other a black guy gave me the cheekiest wink and grin, I was laughing for ages. I'm sure there must be huge competition in the running clubs (which is why I'm not a member of one), but among the rest of us who just run for fun, there's a beautiful camaraderie.
For weight loss, I'd say, the marathon isn't it, although it might have been if I'd done all the training. Do half-marathon training. You don't need special drinks and so on for a half marathon so you run, and the calories are all gone. For this marathon which would need maybe 5,000 calories, I ate big pasta meals for a week, I took 2,500 calories of energy gels with me, drank energy lucozade all around the course, and ate loads of stuff after, so I think I probably did all that work but didn't lose any calories at all. And I haven't lost weight over this year's campaign. Over the whole three years I've lost 9lbs. But I've lost a lot more fat than 9lbs because I've gained a lot of muscle so I'm in much better shape, and over those three years you might expect to put on a pound or two just because we tend to retain the same eating habits while our need for calories falls as we get older, so we tend to grow fatter as the years progress, or so I understand.
So that's it. The end of a three year campaign. What's next? I'd like to get my life in such order that I have the time to do all the training next year, and see what difference that makes. I don't think of it as trying harder, I think of it as a system. Tweak the system and see what happens. Then maybe if I can get things organised so I'm not so dependent on working paid-for hours every day (and there are a few strategies under way for that) I'd like to cycle the coast of Britain the year after. But that really does depend on finances and the state of my business. My other thoughts about marathons are a) I'm only ever aiming to do one a year if that, b) maybe do local ones, take the nearest one one year, the second nearest the year after, and so on (subject to a minimum quality score on the Runner's World list), and c) they say it's a nice way to see a place .. maybe alternate with some overseas ones.
For all my moaning about the lake of hell, take a look at next year's course, the Mablethorpe Marathon, if I follow my rule b. Feature-free. Just me and 26.22 miles of asphalt.
I'm not, by the way, that interested in the London marathon. People often say I could 'work up' to it as if it's a peak of something. It was my initial inspiration. But, there are lots of great marathons (see the link to the Runner's World events guide below, you'll be surprised), it's just that's the one on the telly.
Wanna do the same? Find an event plenty of time away (I suggest a 10k that's not in winter), and buy John Bingham's book. Just bear in mind with the events list that not all events are always listed: an annual event may pass and there might be a few months before the next occurrence is listed.

By John Allsopp
Back to blog list

Tweet this page Tweet this blog Share this blog Share Bookmark this blog Bookmark

blog comments powered by Disqus