Race Review – Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon 2014

I wasn’t even supposed to be at the Yorkshire Marathon. Sure, I did it last year and thought it a great event, but when I was successful in the Berlin Marathon ballot I thought there was no way my poor old legs could do two marathons just a fortnight apart. So I didn’t enter. I thought I’d volunteer to be a marshal instead. The one evening I was on Facebook and noticed that York Sport were running a competition to win a Yorkshire Marathon place. I entered thinking I’d never win it – possibly under the influence of a couple of glasses of wine. But lo and behold I did win it, so the challenge was on! I planned to make Berlin my main target, aiming to have a crack at the elusive sub-4 on the flat, world record-breaking course, then just do York for fun and jog round nice and slowly. Well, Berlin didn’t quite go to plan – if you don’t know why you can read about it here. When I got back from Berlin I got a cold. I never usually get colds! So with legs still not really recovered from Berlin and the tail end of sniffles, I stood on the start line at York with no expectations whatsoever – my only aim was to enjoy the day.

It was a chilly, foggy start, but everyone around me seemed to be in high spirits. There were fears the start could be delayed due to the weather, but thankfully we got off bang on time. I spied a 3:56 pacer whose banner said they’d be running nine minute miles, and as I felt OK I thought “What the hell, I’ll hang on there as long as I can and see what happens”. I managed to do this until about halfway, then my legs started to complain slightly, so I just slowed down a bit. I wasn’t too bothered as I hadn’t expected to keep up for that long anyway! The atmosphere out on the course was brilliant, despite the miserable weather. I’d expected the fog to lift after a while, but it didn’t, and my arms actually felt a bit chilly at times – but still better than being too warm! All the marshals were fantastic, and the people in the villages along the route were amazing, especially in Stamford Bridge, Dunnington and Murton.

The middle section of a marathon is always the hardest part for me. I think it’s something to do with having run quite far and still having a long way to go! But when we got our High 5 gels at 21 miles I actually started to feel a bit better. I calculated that even if I only ran at ten minute pace for the last five miles I still might get a PB, which really surprised me. My Yorkshire Marathon last year was blighted by both a stitch and calf cramp, but I had none of that yesterday. I think the cramp problem might have been solved by changing my shoes from Brooks Adrenaline to Pure Cadence. I remember walking most of the wicked little hill just before the finish last year, but this time I ran up it – albeit not very quickly – and the sun even came out for the last mile! As I speeded up on the downhill I felt happier than I’ve ever felt before at the end of a marathon, even high fiving kids on the way to the finish line! In the end my time was 4:06:22, almost a minute off my PB. Not the biggest margin ever, but I was pretty happy with it as I thought I’d be coming in at more like 4:30.

Is that a cheesy grin or a grimance as my piriformis seizes up?!

The event was really well-organised and supported and I would really recommend it. The goody bag is fab too, with really nice t-shirt and medal, plus crisps and chocolate. I didn’t even know you could still get Double Deckers! I haven’t met anyone who’s had a bad word to say about the Yorkshire Marathon. From my own point of view, it was really ironic that I performed better at York than Berlin, but of course that’s because I had no unscheduled loo stops yesterday! Now, although my legs are hurting today, I feel I need to have just one more crack at sub-4 next spring. Anyone for Manchester?!

The swag!