They did it! Anne and Sarah made it to the finish line on Saturday 2nd November, and did so with smiles on their faces. Both of them have been the happiest, most chilled runners you could hope to meet during their training, while being incredibly enthusiastic about the day itself.
We spoke to them the week before the marathon to findout if everything was on track and they were both predictably cheerful.
I’m feeling good for Saturday – I’m really excited about it all,” enthused Sarah. Anne was equally chipper. “I’m feeling great this week after the runs I’ve done. I’ve got the usual sticky cake planned for Friday – carb loading!”
Saturday came round all too quickly, and Anne and Sarah were up at the crack of dawn to make it to the race in good time. The weather wasn’t the best – cold, wet and windy, but they both gamely shivered on the start line ahead of the gun.
The race had quite manageable numbers, which both of them appreciated, with about 300 runners in all. They all took off, with Sarah and Anne both enjoying getting moving at last. “The first half felt really good,” says Sarah, afterwards. “My ITB started playing up at about mile 3. It wasn’t awful, I was just aware of it. But it was all fine. Anne had a wristband that gave us splits for every mile, and up to abut half way we were about a minute ahead.”
But with a marathon distance, nothing is guaranteed, and as they both said, you just need to roll with the punches. Putting your body through such a feat of endurance means you just have to give yourself a break if that’s what your body needs. Anne takes up the story: “We started out fine, kept our pace really well till half way then something clicked and I lost all my energy. I tried to get going, but by about mile 15 we knew we weren’t going to get sub 4.”
The course itself is super flat, which is fantastic for many runners, but if you’ve been training on more undulating routes, a flat 26.2 miles can be harsh on muscle groups that aren’t used to the relentless slog. Plus, lots of rain in the week beforehand meant that the course was occasionally a little treacherous underfoot. But our two heroes persevered. With some strategic patches of walking from mile 15 onwards, they battled to the finish. “We crossed the finish line and got our medals, and there was a lovely energy tea from a nearby aid station, which went down well,” says Anne. “We held hands as we crossed the finish line!” says Sarah, “It was great!”
This was Anne’s tenth marathon and Sarah’s third, but while that gives them a level of confidence women embarking on their first marathon might not have, they both were quick to point out that the training this time round had transformed the experience for them. “I’ve done a marathon before,” said Sarah. “But I didn’t train properly. The one thing I noticed about this was that on Sunday I expected to feel sore, but I didn’t, and felt grand on Monday at work. So I felt that the training plan has really helped. So I still feel like I could get that sub 4!”
And what’s next for our intrepid pair? A bit of a rest, maybe?
“I’m doing a timed seven-hour race on Newbury Common in three weeks,” said Anne, with a laugh. “It’s 4.7 mile laps, it’ll be fun!” If you say so… And it turns out that Sarah has been inspired to go just that little bit further too: “I signed up for an ultra in June!”
Well done to both Sarah and Anne – we are so proud of you!