Final race time: 5hrs 29mins 17secs
Firstly, tell us about your marathon experience.
I survived! It was the toughest race I have ever done and it was such an amazing feeling to get over the finish line.
What were the good parts of the race?
Miles one to eight were fantastic, as everything seemed to have come together. I was flying through the miles and feeling really good. The support on the course and the marshals were outstanding.
What were the challenging parts?
My hip and glute started flaring up just after mile eight, which I knew was a possibility but I was hoping it would stay away until I was at least halfway. I managed to keep running at a slightly slower pace but still within my target but, unfortunately, at mile 14, they seized up completely, I was in a lot of pain and running was difficult. Trying to get through the last 12 miles was extremely challenging physically but, mentally, I knew I could keep going to the finish.
What race tactics did you use?
I had agreed with Richard that I would keep as close to the pacer as possible so I didn’t have to worry about starting off too fast and, should anything not go to plan, I had three target times to aim for. During the race, I stuck to the pacer but, when the hip and glute failed, I had to resort to the backup plan of just focusing on the mile I was in and getting through it however I could.
What advice did Richard give you that you found particularly helpful?
Not to fall apart completely when anything started to get tough, just keep moving and reassess. This was so helpful when everything did start falling apart and enabled me to stay focused on getting to the finish.
What was your nutrition strategy and how well did it work for you?
I found baby food pouches difficult to carry during training and I found I needed more water to help swallow them so I went back to gels, which are smaller to carry and easier to take. They worked well as I didn’t find myself too fatigued or hit the infamous ‘wall’.
What did you say to yourself to stay motivated and positive when things started to get tough?
I’m not sure I can say as it involved quite a few swear words on occasions but the gist was: ‘I’ve done the training and I can do this.’ I also reminded myself that I had completed up to three-and-a-half hours on the treadmill and that was infinitely tougher than the race.
Did the race live up to your expectations?
Definitely. I knew it would be tough and I had total faith in the training from Richard. I was really expecting my ‘chimp’ to come out and do its usual trick of sabotaging me with negative thoughts but I am so happy it didn’t pop up once!
Will you be doing another marathon at some point in the future?
Absolutely! I’m tempted to let my body recover and then sign up for an autumn marathon to see what I can achieve when I’m not injured! I know my weaknesses now so I can build up my strength to avoid further issues and aim for sub-five hours.
What advice would you have for anyone else doing a marathon for the first time?
Focus on strength training as running a marathon isn’t just about clocking up the miles – you need to make sure your body can physically take on the training as the mileage gets higher. I’d also like to say a huge thank you to all the readers who have followed me on social media and have sent so many messages of support along the way. I must also thank Women’s Running for giving me this amazing experience, ASICS for the fab kit and Richard for the outstanding training.
The coach’s view
Richard says: Due to the hip and glute pain Elizabeth had experienced in training, when we spoke about race strategy, I gave her three targets – gold, silver and bronze if you will – completing the race in 5hrs, 5hrs 15mins or 5hrs 30mins. We were under no illusions that the hip would flare up so we made a contingency plan. The fact that she ran for eight miles without hip pain was a miracle. She kept it together even though things weren’t going well and was delighted with her time of 5hrs 29mins. In the circumstances, she did very well. Her mental strength has improved enormously. I’d advise her not to run for a while and let the hip recover. I’m incredibly proud of her.