Today [2 October] I ran a marathon in Chester, and it was a bit of drama (skip to the end if you just want the result!).

It started last night as I innocently plugged my garmin in to charge. I come back to check its progress, and discover it’s died. It is dead. It has ceased to be alive. Argh!

The runners among you already feel my pain. If you don’t, it’s the equivalent to having your phone taken away, and you don’t even have any nokias left you can play snake on. It’s rubbish. Worry worry.

So, a free run, one off the grid. Alright. The race started as races tend to, with the town crier (cryer? Meh) belting out nonsense before sounding a hooter with no warning – and we were off! It was at the race course, you see.

I was targeting a time that’d get me into London without having to ballot, that would mean sub 3h05. So I had to run hard (for me!) And hope I hadn’t gone too fast, with no way of knowing!

The early miles felt good, even if they smelt a bit farmy in places, and you had to dodge to manure in the road in others. Apart from that, we were lucky to get perfect, cool weather, and the scenary when we weren’t hemmed in by tall bushes on both sides was great. I passed the timing mats at 10k, 20k and half way, and still no idea how I was doing. It felt quick.

At this point I resorted to using my phone to get a rough idea what to do. At 16 miles I was around the right pace. At 18, still looking good. Then the metric marathoners (running 26.2k) merged onto the route, and things became tricky as the occasional runner belted past. Still, keep trucking.

Oh, the support through the villages from mile 17 – 22ish around the Wales/England border was terrific incidentally, they properlt got into it!

Was delighted the legs still worked. It was hurting, but okay. Mile 20 went by and still on target. The hills started to creep in now, and that hurt more, but kept moving forward, kept smiling…I heard my name a lot, I think there were at least two other Gary’s really close to me for several miles!

Mile 22 all good, then 24…then a *horrible* hill, but still moving. This was the last phone check at 24. Back into Chester and some people were cheering like mad as others looked massively inconvenienced…haha, and kept running. 25. Not far now. Bloody hell, when did 2k get so stretchy?! Still no sign of the godforsaken racecourse. I’ve sped up – somehow – sure I’ve still got a chance…a girl beside me’s cursing and I unhelpfully laugh..people say we’re nearly there but I still can’t see the finish and I need it…

And then we turn a corner. I can see it. I’m on the grass. The clock’s still too far to make out, and I know I was only a few seconds off gun time. Then I can see it, still maybe 50, 60, 80m to go, 3:04:43. Oh God.

I can still sprint! 54, 55, 56… I cross as I’m sure it’s switched to 3:05:00. I’m going to have to wait and see.

Don’t worry, you don’t though.

Gun time – 3h 05:01
Chip time – 3h 04:58

Hell yeah! A new PB. And what makes it better? I now have cake!

Life is good.

2016-10-02-12-18-32

A happy pose at somewhere-obviously-racecoursey

Bonus thoughts
– 
the above is a’ copy and paste’ job from my facebook post last weekend.
– I tried to use Strava on my phone to track my pace, but as soon as my phone was locked, it stopped recording, making it totally useless.
– there is hidden power in High 5s.  You can’t help run a little faster after them, though I dare say a whole marathon continuously high-5ing might not lead to a new world record.
– it’s a shame the closing stages are fairly low-key.  A fair chunk of the return is on what I assume’s a cycle-track, and after tackling a few hills back into Chester, you’re on pavements and walkways along the canal.  I get it logistically, but it’s so quiet for most of it!
– Chester’s a picturesque place, would’ve been nice to spend a bit more time there.
– the race was very well organised, smooth, and no hassle either starting or finishing.  Worth a trip down.