Hull marathon

This year I am trying to complete 12 marathon or Ultras in a year. Sounds a little crazy but when I realised I already had 11 booked I figured one more wasn't too bad. The problem was fitting one more in! I came back from Berlin and felt OK so I immediately booked Hull. I knew nothing of the course, the route only that it was on Sunday. I hoped my legs would hold doing 2 marathons in 7 days!

After checking out the route I began to panic. I have a huge fear of heights, well its not so much heights it is falling from a height which means I really hate bridges. I panic driving over bridges, I try to avoid them at all costs. I had to run over the Humber bridge, and then turn around and run back. I was not happy.

I tried to put it to the back of my mind and focus on the first 16 miles instead. I stood in the pen and then realised how small the pen actually was. Around 850 runners, not that many and given I could see the 4.30 pacer about 4 people in front and the 4.45 pacer was right behind me I figured this would be a quite spaced out run. Nothing like the other marathons I have done.

We seemed to set off on time. One mass of people all moving together. Some tight turns to negotiate for the first 1km and we still seemed very bunched together. I had a comfy pace going and didn't realise I had caught up to the 4.30 pacer. I decided to stay with them for the first 5km. They were running Chicago marathon next and so we spoke a little about the majors. The first 5km was just past the deep, and I decided to take a walk for 2 mins to have a drink. Water was in cups and I can't run and drink from cups.  A few quick sips and I set off again. Around 8km the 4.45 pacer caught me up. They were so lovely and we ran and chatted until 11km. I wasn't really paying much attention to the route. Instead trying to keep moving on tired legs and wondering why my breathing wouldn't settle. 

I noticed now that the runners had thinned out and there were large sections when you were on your own. No headphones allowed and so my thoughts were trying to sort out my breathing. The support in the early miles was thin, but when crowds were there they were amazing. The marshalls were all really friendly and supportive too. Half way was approaching and my goal was to not get caught by the 5 hour pacer. I checked my watch, my heart rate was in the 220s, I panicked and started to walk but it wouldn't settle. The 5hour pacer caught me up. I thought I would have one of my biscuits, but my hands were so cold I dropped them. I got a bit annoyed by the whole thing and then thought this wasn't helping, so tried to calm down. 

My heart rate settled and then I realised where I was. The long hill up to mile 16, which meant the bridge was soon. I tried to put it out my head and concentrate on this hill. Watching the faster runners run down it and thinking that will be me soon. One female crowd member I think sensed my nerves and she said all would be fine and gave me a cheer. It really helped.

I continued round the corner, a band was playing under the bridge. I knew it was soon and I sensed my breathing had changed again. I was telling myself to get a grip. A marshall said in a minute you will be running over the bridge. I felt my legs go wobbly, my body started shaking and I sensed the panic attack starting. I must have looked a right state as the volunteers on the bridge asked me what was wrong, I explained I had a fear of bridges. I couldn't believe it when they said 'I will come with you'. The volunteers came with me over the bridge so I didn't have to see the drop on the side. They arranged someone to then come back across the other side with me too. All they did was talk to me to take my mind off the fact I was on a bridge, but it worked. I got over the bridge and past the 20 mile mark, I was now focused on that downhill.

The downhill came and I was so relived. I could finally stretch the legs a bit. The lady from earlier was still out, she said she had waited to see if I was ok after the bridge and she was so pleased I had made it. What a lovely thing to do. A group of runners kept passing me with some amazing tunes. I was feeling good that the bridge was out the way and I started to relax and enjoy myself. I turned the corner into the track and just had to have a go at the Ultrafast 100m. It would have been rude not to.

Just after the ultrafast I bumped into Phil, the 5.30 pacer. He was ahead of schedule so we got chatting and ran the last few miles together. He was amazing and this year at the Yorkshire marathon he will complete 200 marathons in 2 years! It makes my 12 in 12 challenge seem pathetic in comparison. He was an amazing inspiration for those last few miles and I only wished we had had more time to chat more. The final mile was now in sight and it was some more twists and turns into the stadium to finish.

Given I had conquered a fear, had a massive panic attack, and couldn't control my heart rate, I was rather pleased with my time and the fact I had completed marathon 2 in 7 days. The race had given lots of issues I hadn't had before, not just the previously mentioned but my back also kept locking meaning I couldn't bend or twist. I got through it though, to perhaps one of the most random goody bags ever.

Hull marathon was certainly an experience, I won't be doing it again though the bridge caused me too much stress. All the marshalls and volunteers were fantastic, some of the friendliest I have come across and when there was crowd support it was also first class. Just a shame there were lots of very quiet points and moments when you felt alone. The art work on the mile markers was such a lovely touch and the medal has to be one of my favourites.

Hull was number 7 this year, which leaves 5 left until I complete this challenge. It made me giggle that this popped up on my Facebook feed just after completing Hull. 

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