Bacchus Marathon – Report

Alternative title: You wait all year for a PB, then three come along at once.

It’s been a long time coming my friends, I have had some seriously bad runs this year which caused me to throw all speed goals out of the window. If you are struggling with speed, do the same because look what happened when I did!

This post should be about Bacchus Marathon, but I wanted to give you a run down of the three weeks before too, because they were all so good! Sorry for smugness. At least I put it all in one post, right?

Richmond Park 10km

Richmond Park 10kmAs part of my training for Bacchus Marathon I signed up for one of my favourite cheap and cheerful local races. I didn’t know anyone running this time, which was sad as last time I’d been paced to a course PB by the dynamo team of Sarah and Laura. As I’d been battling with speed I decided to take this one easy, have a nice warm up jog to get there and organised David to meet me for brunch afterwards so I would have something to look forward to.

I also used this run to try out my new Lululemon Stuff Your Bra. I thought I’d always be in Shock Absorber Ultimate Run bras, but I’m a covert! I shunned my race pack which sometimes rub and popped my phone into the handy pockets in the bra and completely forgot I even had it.

The beautiful Emma has recently moved this way and came out to support me on the day. It was a great boost to see a friendly face at the 4km/9km point and her enthusiasm rubbed off on me!

When the results went up and my first ever Sub-50 was confirmed we jumped up and down hugging and I got loads of congratulations from other runners, such a nice atmosphere.

Fulham palace parkrun

“Just because you can run fast, doesn’t mean you should” said David. “I know, I’ll be sensible” said I. This weekend also happened to be lovely Leah‘s hen weekend, which I was missing. So I slipped on my TNR vest and took the girls power to parkrun with me!

parkrunPB

Oops. That TNR power up worked. I can tell when I am running fast because I don’t even feel my Garmin vibrate. I looked down at it once during the second lap and was surprised to see a 4:40 km, no point slowing down then!

I had no idea what time I’d done because I ran there and back my garmin data was all squiffy. I was in a rush because we were going to Ascot races and forgot all about it until the text came through…

Brand new stonking parkrun PB. A disclaimer though, Fulham Palace is the quickest, flattest one I know. Let’s see how I fair when I head for a more northern one soon. I honestly never thought in my wildest dreams I could run parkrun that fast. Liz and I had discussed the possibilities of breaking the 24 minute barrier. I had faith in her, but I never thought I’d do it. There it was, it just came, when I wasn’t even aiming for a PB.

Bacchus Marathon

Well this is going to be wordy and full of gratuitous pictures. Apologies Bacchus Marathon Prep

I was nervous, I was cranky, I had a temper tantrum over my porridge because David was using the hob. David snapped this picture whilst ‘packing’ the camera and I think it really shows my state of mind on Bacchus morning. I had all the normal maranoia worries, but I was really hoping to see some friends during the run and enjoy the day. David let me down gently that I would probably not catch anyone up.

We gave Mr Cat a lift to the race, which was the most perfect thing to do. I had someone to hang out with in the start pens, someone to swap stories with and Jon is a pro at this marathon malarky (I think he is on 108) so I knew I was in safe hands!

As a member of the 100 marathon club, Jon also seems to know everyone and has run Bacchus every year since it’s conception. We chatted to all Jon’s fellow 100 clubbers before the race and joined the loosely packed rabble of 100ish runners near the start line. Jon is a speedster but after running 50km the day before was aiming for around the 4 hour mark. I was aiming for around 4:30 and feeling slightly apprehensive about the course profile.

Bacchus Marathon Lap 1Despite the gap in our time goals, Jon and I fell into a conversational pace for the first few miles and I even managed to drop him for a few hundred metres as I passed David and his Dad at the 2 mile point!

I am much happier than I look at this point, I think I must have been talking or something. I was having a good time… honest.

I saw them again at 15 miles, where I had prepped David, his Dad and my Mum with lots of my crap! Nuun, water, apple baby food, they had it all but I shunned it. The stations were so well stocked and quiet that I was fine just picking up water when I needed it. I had stashed an apple baby food in each of the bra pockets and was about to crack open my second. I’ll be honest there is only so much of that stuff you can take.

This time when I passed my cheering squad I had dropped in behind Jon, but not far, we spent most of the race swapping back and forth. Jon slowing down on the hills, me catching him up on the downhills. A little chat, great words of encouragement from Jon that I was looking strong (hearing this from a pro made me feel strong!) and I warned him about the bores ahead that wanted to chat about nonsense.

Bacchus Marathon LeahI can’t remember the exact point, but at one of Jon and I’s meet ups we caught up with the back half marathon runners, this is when the race became tricky. But it really gave me something to focus on. Leah was walking the half, to enjoy the atmosphere and to avoid a recurring injury. I figured at some point I would at least catch her. Then at the 19 mile point I saw a green vest up ahead, the same one I’d worn for my parkrun PB. Well not exactly the same one, Leah’s one. We may be pals, but we don’t share kit. I shouted LEAAHHHHH. She stopped screamed, grabbed her phone and took this picture and tweeted it straight away for my cheering squad to see!

A quick cuddle and introduction to her friend and I was off. I may have stamped on your foot in my attempt to come to a halt, sorry Leah. Shortly afterwards I reached the half marathon, halfway point which was on a switchback. On my way out of the switchback I saw Leah again and really enjoyed her shouts and cheers. This gave me such a boost for the next miles.

 

Bacchus Marathon CharlieNot long afterwards I saw this awesome Unicorn prancing ahead, and thought “I can imagine Charlie wearing that” I saw some Schwings and shouted ahead “I like your Unicorn costume” in return I got “It’s not a costume, I’m a real *glances over shoulder* STEPhHHHHHH OH MY GOD” I’d caught up with the dream team of Charlie and Jen who stayed with me for about a mile helping to clear the path of slightly drunk, fancy dressed runners with shouts of “amazing marathoner coming through” thanks to those of you that turned and clapped and cheered even if you didn’t know me.

Sadly my unicorn had had some falls over the course, (what a brave girly) and so I left Jen and Charlie behind with a big smile on my face and some great running memories. I also didn’t want to keep them from the wine and fab snacks at the aid stations! I’ve never run with Jen before and I can’t wait to do it again.

I continued on my merry way, dodging all kinds of fancy dress over the last uphill section, thinking the whole time about the downhill stretch to come. I was beginning to get a little hungry and at the top of the hill one of the regular aid stations appeared. I normally avoid any of the provided food at races and I can’t handle gels but I stood perusing the options and grabbed two chunks of Mars Bar! One straight in my mouth and one I hung on to until I’d finished. I’m crap at eating whilst running and worry about choking! Cheap nasty chocolate has never tasted so good. I could almost feel the sugar hitting my veins.

As I mentioned earlier when I go fast I tend to completely forget to look at my watch, so I really had no idea how fast I was going. At the last aid station, I ran into the chaotic crowd of halfers sampling wine and slap bang into Laura. I flung my arms around her, spun on my heels and carried on, there was a beautiful big downhill coming up, I wasn’t stopping for anyone. Sorry Laura! Thanks for your words of encouragement.

For the last few miles I’d only seen one other orange number (The halfers were wearing black) and I think most of the people I was passing just assumed I was being a boring halfer. As I saw the hillside vineyards opening up in front of me, I took a cursory glance a the old Garmin. Hmm it was reading 3:30-something-ish. My brain went into overdrive. I had two miles leftish. I could get this done sub 4 easy. Hold on. Two miles isn’t even gonna take me that long. Come on legs, let’s see what we can do.

What came next was possibly my best running experience ever, I free wheeled down the hills. the field had really emptied out and I found myself running alone. I ran through trees and turned the last but one corner into the sun light, vines either side and Denbies just off in the distance.

Arriving in the back of Denbies some neon clad lovelies got a gruff “excuse me” as I tried to avoid their ‘hands over the head, holding each other, taking up the whole path, finish line fun’. Sorry ladies. I passed them as I turned the last corner. I suddenly heard Cat shouting, Saw the clock on 3:44:XX and went for it, there was a sprint in my legs and I sure as hell wasn’t gonna let that clock tick over 3:45. (In hindsight I have no idea why, but it’s always nice to hit a round figure). I gritted my teeth, opened up my stride and pushed as hard as I could over the finish line. I saw my family, right there waiting for me, just beyond the arch. Something I sorely missed in Paris.

And then this happened…

3-45I screamed 3:45 at the poor race director who was shaking hands, burst in to tears and sobbed 3:45 at my supporters. My supporters who were pretty surprised to see me, and I’m lucky they were there as I had told them 4:00 – 4:30!

Still in shock my ever sensible Mumma sent me off to have my chip removed and get my medal and then (the only bad thing I have to say about this race) I got trapped in a never-ending funnel going further and further away from my family. I did pick up my medal, t-shirt, melon and cake. But I honestly couldn’t care less, I was so emotional I just wanted cuddles and so some poor marshall got an over emotional runner begging to be let out of the cordoned off area. Luckily he did and I ran off for cuddles and finally managed to put a smile on my face…

 

Bacchus Marathon Medal

At some point in my entrapment my running coach for the day Jon (Mr Cat) had also finished in an awesome time. Cat came running over to me with her Dad Keith and congratulated me, followed with a “Well what shall we aim for at Barcelona now eh?”

As I stood by the finish I saw Charlie and Jen come in, then it was liking being reunited with comrades. Well I imagine so. I burst in to tears all over again as Charlie and I shouted and cuddled. I shan’t repeat the excited explitves that came from Charlie’s mouth 😉

Having such wonderful and supportive friends there made the result even more joyous. I slipped back through the barrier and went off for more cake with the girls.

It was truly a festival atmosphere at the back and while we chatted and caught up, more and more of my friends came in. On a massive endorphin high I flitted between TNR ladies, my family, people I’d only met on twitter, parkrunners and even people I’d never met before.

I picked up my complimentary hog roast and wine (which I gave to my long suffering supporters), blagged myself a massage, and shared these cookies with my pals.

 

Bacchus Marathon Hog Roast

Bacchus Marathon Massage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not sure how long I spent bouncing around the Denbies wine estate, but when we were about to go, I decided to see if the results had been posted up to see if I could get my chip time. I found a lady with some official looking paper, she fobbed me off with a “they’ll be online later” but I persevered and said “my family think I came sixth, I just want to check” She asked for my name and responded with “you’ve won a prize, follow me for the prize giving, it’s happening in two minutes.

I didn’t want David wondering where I was, so I SPRINTED off and found him, shouted “come quick, I’ve won a prize” and sprinted back to the courtyard.

I found out I had come third lady and was presented with a gift to celebrate the occasion! For someone who skived off as much PE as possible at school this was unfathomable for me. I was ready to burst with pride and excitement. Cat and Jon came to cheer my prize giving and we all squeezed in the car for a journey home full of joys and run chat.!

Bacchus Marathon Third Lady

Bacchus Marathon Medal Close UpAll in all a pretty fabulous day. I would like to run the half again in future and enjoy the wine stations!

An enormous thanks goes to all my friends that were there on the day, my supporters and anyone on the course who gave me a word of encouragement. I couldn’t have done it without you.

Now, bring on Barcelona!!

 

 

 

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22 comments

  1. Sarah says:

    Wow Steph, just wow! I’d been suspecting following you on Strava lately that an awesome marathon time was coming your way but didn’t want to jinx you. Now I can say it: WELL DONE SPEEDY! Such amazing work, and so well deserved. Hope you enjoyed every moment of your ‘podium’ race xxx

  2. Zoe says:

    I have finally had a chance to read this properly – you are incredible! I love that you just went with it and didn’t notice your speed until the last few miles. You were obviously born to run lady! Super duper congratulations – can’t wait to see how you do in Barcelona! xxx

  3. Sarah says:

    WELL DONE!!! What a great result and especially on such a hilly course!! Sorry to have missed you – would have loved to have cheered you on!!

  4. Holly says:

    Just read this and got very emotional! Can’t imagine how you felt. 🙂 Well done!! Also, a bra with pockets for your phone and food sounds amazing!!

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