Curiouser and curiouser! The race started on time and right from the start it was undulating. As ever, I got caught up in the moment and ran up the first few hills, even though my plan was to walk them, not wanting to be the only one walking. I got chatting to a man who told me this was his first marathon - a strange one to choose if you ask me but very pretty. He asked what time I planned to do and I said five hours, taking into account the 420 metres of ascent. I wasn't in any particular rush, especially as I'd done very little running since the 50 miler a month ago. He then overtook me and disappeared - I wonder how he did? The fields began to open out and I loved the way you could see all the runners ahead along the edge of the field:
A bit later we were back in the countryside. I was horrified that people were just chucking the plastic bottles from the aid stations into the gutter - I also saw them stuffed into dry stone walls on several occasions. Personally I'd disqualify anyone seen littering as the Lake District is far too beautiful for that. I'm sure the volunteers cleared it up but it showed exactly why we need more plastic-free races, it was really shocking. Another disappointing thing was how little food there was at the aid stations. The first one which had anything edible was at around 14 miles, this is absolutely crazy as most people start fuelling after 1 hour 30 minutes (I was at 2 hours 15 before they had so much as a jelly baby!) They had literally one box of sweets and that was it. Luckily I carried my own supplies, but this race had the least well-stocked aid stations of any marathon I've ever run... not exactly a compliment!
---MOAN BREAK OVER---
It was around this point I realised I'd missed Ian - he texted saying he was at Newby Bridge and I'd already passed Fell Foot. Oh dear. Road closures had caused significant difficulties!
I love this photo. I was really having a fun time at this point, haring downhill overtaking everyone with my hair flying out behind me. This was around 30k, which I'd done in 3 hours 5 minutes - a pretty good time for me! I normally struggle around 26-28km but today was a breeze - I think because the terrain was so varied. Hills definitely make it less boring!
At mile 21 there were a couple who had set up their own aid station on the side of the road. I wish I'd taken a photo because it was awesome. They had savoury snacks (cheese biscuits, crisps) and bananas, neither of which the actual aid stations had! They were super-friendly and lovely and a total highlight - they powered me through the rest of the race.
By 25 miles I was starting to flag though. I'd run up a few hills in my enthusiasm and I just didn't know if I could maintain it. By this time I was running along the section I'd already done first thing this morning, as I approached another big hill, I slowed to a walk.
As I did so, a runner I'd recently overtook came alongside me. He said, "come on, you can do this". I said, "I can't". He said, "yes you can" and I reluctantly speeded up to a jog. By this time I was breathing heavily and just wanted to stop and walk, but every time I thought about it the man pressed me onwards, telling me we were nearly there (I knew he was lying but couldn't speak!) and saying I was helping him (also a lie - he wasn't even out of breath so I was definitely slowing him down). I told him to go ahead without me - he declined. I hauled myself up the hill, feeling sick, wondering if I was going to keel over. Suddenly the finish was in sight and one final push and we crossed the line together.
Ian found me and took this photo and we got out of there as quickly as we could as the whole place was totally overrun with people. After 20 minutes navigating out of the car park (!) we made our way back to the nearest village where Iz had spent a happy afternoon painting. She brought me an ice cream and we drove home. Happy days.