Seville is a city in Spain renown for its oranges, pretty architecture and being very flat (which was very fortunate for me given it was the destination for marathon number 3 of my marathon mission). I was particularly looking forward to my trip to Seville because it was an opportunity for me to spend FOUR WHOLE DAYS with marathon number 3’s cheerleader (AKA best ex-housemate and ultimate babe) Lucy. Me and Lucy met nearly three years ago when we were final year medical students about to start work as F1s (AKA baby doctors) and enter the big wide world of adulthood. It was a bit of a gamble, but we decided to move in together after only meeting each other once back in May 2014… but the gamble paid off and I gained a friend for life. I had an amazing year with Lucy, drinking champagne on school nights, eating chicken strips and quoting destiny’s child song lyrics appropriate in any given situation.
people often ask me how I prepare for my marathons. What training plan do I use? How have I adapted my diet? What stretches do I do pre and post race? If I’m honest I am the wrong person to ask about these things, as I am a bit hopeless and break all the essential rules of marathon training- I eat what I want, drink too much alcohol and shamelessly rarely stretch pre or post run. The Seville marathon fell on Sunday 19th March. The week leading up to the marathon was pretty hectic as I was working nights, meaning I finished work on Friday morning, didn’t sleep at all post my final night shift and woke up at 4am on Saturday morning after a prosecco filled Friday evening with Lucy. In other words, I had only slept 10 hours in the four days leading up to the marathon! Not ideal marathon preparation!
As I mentioned previously, Seville is a flat city and the marathon is in fact Europe’s flattest course (much to a some people’s disbelief). I was therefore hoping to beat my marathon PB of 3 hours 49 minutes. I got up bright and early to make my way to the start line and began the 26.2 miles shortly after 8am. The weather was ideal for running, dry, with a slight breeze and not too warm. The course itself was not particularly exciting for the first 10 miles. To start with we ran on the motorway for a few miles and then through a large residential area. If there isn’t a great deal to see around you, you tend to focus more on the effort of running – you start to become aware of how laboured your breathing is and every niggle becomes an aching pain. As I said up until 10 miles the run wasn’t particularly exciting, however at mile 11 I spotted Lucy on the sidelines screaming like a crazy lady as she saw me approaching and it spurred me right on!! The run got easier for a few miles after I saw her, until… I started thinking I needed the toilet. It may just have been nerves or alternatively it could have been a consequence of the horrendous experience I had in Costa Rica (see previous blog entry), but I knew I needed to get to a toilet ASAP… only there were no toilets around. As a result I waddled for 3 miles before in the distance a glowing, beautiful sight unveiled itself on the horizon… a row of portaloos. I veered off the course and entered the portaloo. In typical portaloo fashion, it stunk, there was no toilet paper and there was urine all over the floor, but I grinned like a Cheshire cat when I saw it- I was so happy that it appeared in the nick of time!! Post portaloo stop the run became more enjoyable, as the second half of the run was through the touristy part of the city, with its stunning architecture and bigger crowds to cheer us runners on. As I approached mile 20 the combination of pain and hypoglycaemia started to kick in, but I fought through those tough final 6.2 miles and made it to the spectacular finish in Seville’s olympic stadium, 11 minutes short of my previous personal best. I was over the moon. And the fact Lucy was there to celebrate with post-run beer and tapas was simply dreamy!
I mentioned “hitting the wall” at mile 20 in the race. “Hitting the wall” is a point where you are faced with an intense mental and physical barrier which you doubt your ability to overcome. It is at this point where you need to have a good mental distraction to tear your mind away from thoughts of giving up…
A few weeks before the Seville marathon my uncle sadly passed away. He lived in Ireland so I did not get to see him much, but everytime I did he had me (and everyone else in his company) laughing away at his dry, witty jokes. He was a well loved man who will be missed dearly by all who knew him. Losing Uncle Bernie made me realise how I need to appreciate my family as you never know what is round the corner.
I love my family to bits. I am the youngest of four children and was raised by the best Mum and Dad a girl could ask for, in a little seaside town called Seaford in East Sussex. The six of us are all very different in our own unique ways- from my fiercely determind sister with her love of cruises, to the brother who you can guarantee will be late for everything except his beloved work, to my “big kid” brother with his tough outer shell who is secretely a big Mummy’s boy. As I said we are all very different, but we all share a love of a good party, winding up our Mum and wolfing down Mum’s roast dinners!
I am dedicating marathon number 3 to my family. Through nature and nuture they have shaped me into the person I am today and therefore inadvertently made me the crazy person who thought running 8 marathons in 8 months was a good idea! You can’t choose your family, but I don’t think I could have got stuck with a better bunch if I had the choice. I am writing this blog from a hostel in Sydney, knowing I won’t see my family for the next 2 months, but just as I was thinking about them during the tough point in the Seville marathon, I will also think about them a lot during this trip away.
Seville marathon – 3 hours 38 minutes