Who thought dressing up as a reindeer and running 26.2 miles was a good idea? Me, that is who! When the initial plan came together I was thinking of a cold, crisp December where a herd of fit reindeer pranced along the shores of Portsmouth. This was not to be. The herd of 8 did look fabulous and we got a lot of attention and support from other runners before the start line. It was clear that we wouldn’t be able to run the whole way together due to different running styles and marathon times. It makes it less stressful to know friends are running with you but no-one has the added pressure of trying to keep up or slow down. Most of us stuck together for the first mile along the promenade. The sweat was already starting to pour down my face and I am not normally a very sweaty person, I looked down and only 7 minutes of running had past! Oh my, not even a mile! I had vowed to myself that I was going to wear my reindeer outfit in all of its glory with the hood up for the duration on the run. I regretted this choice instantly but I am very stubborn, so continued. Most of the other deer had undressed themselves within 2miles and were running along with a half-hitch reindeer costume.
The Portsmouth Coastal marathon is an out and back event. 13.1 miles East and then 13.1 miles back West. At the half way point some people and some reindeers swapped with their relay buddy. The route is different to a standard marathon as it has very varied terrain, a slippery beach section, very muddy single track trails, road, country lanes, promenade, woodland trails and 4x4 sections. It is great it you like cross-country but it is definitely not a fast course if hoping for a personal best.
For the first half I was running well and maybe slightly too quickly with another reindeer called Ross. Ross was fantastic company for the first half and breezed along. He was switching with his relay buddy (my husband) at the half way point. Therefore we were storming along, I felt strong and in a good rhythm. The reindeers were switched and I was on my way back home. Only a half-marathon to go.
A half marathon suddenly seemed like a very long way. My pace slowed slightly but I still felt strong. Then with about 10miles to go it felt like a tap had been turned on and all of my energy was drained. My brain was still positive, I knew I could finish and I was trying to focus on all of the previous events but my body is now just tired and is in real need to rest and recover. The last 8 miles were very slow, it felt like there was a 300mph headwind and my reindeer hood was a huge windbreak attached to my head. I felt very sorry for Will at this point as I don’t think I was great company and I was pretty annoyed that my body was hurting so much with only 8miles to push and only one more event to go.
Just one step at a time…on the return leg the route was slightly different due to the incoming tide. This meant that we were diverted through some housing estates. I nearly lost it at this point as all I wanted to see was the sea and the final promenade where I would know I had only 2 miles to push. It felt like an eternity to get to the promenade and then an added eternity to see the finish line. I could hear the cheering of the supporters by this point and think I was able to put in a very slight sprint (faster hobble) finish.
It was the most painful marathon I have ever done. My body was so tired and my emotions were going wild. I am so glad I was running with Will as he was a able to help me stay standing once I had finished. I also had the best hug ever from a random stranger who was dressed up a a christmas tree at the finish line. She saw I was upset and the hug was a magic remedy to the pain. She also directed me to the free beer stand which probably helped.
As usual my incredible support crew were standing cheer at the end. It was my chance to join them and cheer in the rest of the herd. Everyone had done absolutely amazingly, it was a tough race for us all. A huge thank you for the full 8 reindeer that ran the marathon/half-marathon with me. We all smashed it. Also a massive well done to my friend Chris who joined in the marathon as a whim after never having run that distance before and smashed in it just over 4 hours. By the time I reached the finished he had definitely enjoyed the free beer. Nice one Chris!
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