It was the first Newport Marathon, so I was fully prepared that not all things may go to plan, I could see the difficulties they were having trying to find volunteers even the day before .
I had booked the Park and Ride option, so no worries about trying to find somewhere to park. It was the opposite end of Newport from where we lived so we left home at 6.30 am and arrived there at 7am. Having had horrendous trouble at Swansea P&R on 1/2 marathon day with traffic I’m glad we took the early approach, since they did have lots of trouble later on.
On the P&R bus by 7.15, double decker bus and every one keen to sit at the top! We were in Newport by 7.35, the weather was a bit cold and blustery, but found a seat and had my banana. Met with some local runners at 8, then went for a coffee at the University and to keep warm.
8.20 went to drop my bag off, the que! it was snaking around, they were security checking every bag, so I started getting ready in the que with a panic but then they must have had a rethink and just let us all through. Quick change, old jumper on to keep me warm and bag handed in.
Saw two other people that I knew and we made our way to the yellow pen. Got to 8.55 so took my jumper off and left it on the side, it was then the message was passed back that due to delays with P&R the race would not start until 9.30 (there had apparently been another message earlier about a delayed start, unfortunately those at the back did not get this message, my husband in an earlier pen, heard and went back inside the University to keep warm), It was very cold and most of us were shivering, I did look for my jumper but there was another lady wearing it!
At nearly 9.30 we started moving forward so bit of a damp squid start, at the back we didn’t hear any official start we just started moving. Crossed the start line, and lots of support with crowds lining the street, as we headed out on our first mile, nice and wide road so plenty of space, felt completely happy to start Jeffing from the start since we were not bunched up but every time my timer went off there was a photographer ahead, and I didn’t want walking photos!
Off we went out of Newport and on our way to Magor, mile 3 drinks station saw a friend and had first ‘you can do this hug’. Another RMR saw me and thought that my intervals were the same as hers, so we stayed together until mile 15, when she stopped to talk to her dad, she kept me going at a reasonable pace as I think I would have gone slower initially if I had been on my own. Mile 4 my first snack a chocolate crepe.
Breaking the route up I knew at mile 6, my fathers cousin was at the drinks station so that was my next aim, at each drinks station I tried to make sure that I had a swig of my tailwind and then half a bottle of water. Passing mile 6 we started to see the lead runners on their way back! Fortunately there wasn’t that many but did get to see the Fairy.
Next aim get to Magor where my parents and children would be waiting. The route to Magor had some of the narrower paths on the route, at my speed it was fine with plenty of space though my husband said at the 4 hour pacer he was with they were still bunched up with no passing room, so not sure if they had even more entries they would have enough space.
Into Magor and the support was amazing, collected my next food Banana baby food pouch, there were loads of people in the square, lots of support, but it all went by in a bit of a blur… I certainly went a bit faster through that bit as well, collected my water and out of the square, then a little bit of a walk to drink my water.
On to Redwick still managing to stick to my 30:30 ratio but at mile 12 did start finding it hard, and didn’t like the buzzer! Mile 13 water station and our local brownies so some more familiar faces, and some of them of disbelief that I was actually running this distance! Unfortunately it was at this stage that I realised I had forgotten to put my body glide on my arms, and they were starting to rub, unfortunately the first aid post had no vaseline available, so I knew the next half was going to get painful.
Half way there, now the the way back to Newport (Its all in the mind!) I started feeling better by mile 13.5 so think my sugar levels had picked up, the lady I had run the earlier 10 miles with went to talk to her dad and I never saw her again, back along the long stretch to mile 15 drinks station, lots of ‘extra milers’ cycling back and forth to ensure we were al okay and with words of encouragement, which was much appreciated. Along this stretch of road they had an extra music station which was also appreciated , didn’t make that stretch of road feel so lonely.
Then on to Goldcliff, I’ve run this route a few times (though in the opposite direction) and normally don’t see a soul, so it was quite nice to see people around me, the RMR skirt once again helped since I would get the odd shouts of run Mummy Run, I know some didn’t like the lack of support on these quieter sections, but for me having someone in front was enough, and the few locals that sat in their gardens. I know some who have run London and they have said the constant support gets a bit too much sometimes when all you want is peace and quiet. Another top up with a chocolate pancake and it was mile 20 and on our way back to Newport, just 10k to go 90 minutes maximum was in my head, and even the thought that there was a slight chance that I might make under 5 1/2 hours, my 26 mile training run came in at 5.55 and I didn’t think I would be any quicker on the day. At this stage I was still managing to keep up with my 30:30 ratio.
Then cramp struck, it seemed to be a popular milage, there were a few others suffering, I thought the sodium in my pancakes would be sufficient so didn’t make my Tailwind as concentrated as I had planned. I swapped to a fast march and downed the remaining tailwind, I kept on walking for 1/2 a mile for the tailwind to kick in and then started my 30:30 again but by then my legs had enough and really didn’t want to run, so swapped to a fast march for most of the remaining time (in hindsight I needed to take on more fuel), mile 21 and a quick hug from my friend at the water station and a reaffirming you will do this and off for the remaining 5 miles.
Lots of fast walking and not much running on these miles, and the pain in my feet started increasing, by mile 23 seeing signs of toenails optional I was also starting to think would I have any left, I really didn’t like the mile 24 up and down the transporter bridge , the stretch up seemed so long. By the end of mile 24 a blister was excruciating and I started to think could I manage the end in no shoes (there was one gentleman who ran the whole thing bare foot and in traditional dress). Last few mile’s very little support on the roads for us slower ones, which also meant I didn’t feel like I had to run, any hopes of getting under 5 1/2 hours had gone by mile 21, now I just wanted to finish. I fast walked all the way to just past mile 26 then started running again before the crowds started lining the streets, I thought I was managing to run okay at that stage though video/ photographic evidence disagrees.
I passed the finish line 5:38:01, – 17 mins faster than my last training Marathon.
Through the finishing tunnel and medal, water and banana, then on to find my bag, there was not many bags left by then! Quick change and into some flip flops and my toe nails were still intact. Found my husband who finished in 3:57 so he had relaxed, and had something to eat and drink by the time I finished.
It would have been nice to stay in Newport for a bit but I had to get back to let my parents go home, so it was back to the P&R, no que for the bus and for some strange reason no one wanted to go on the top deck this time and home.
12 months to plan the next Newport marathon and get my feet and nutrition on the day plan better!