Updated – 18th March 2017
Damian’s Marathon Journey Blog
Most people know about my running journey which started in January 2015 as part of the Dursley Running Club Walk2Run programme, so I won’t dwell on it here. I knew quite early on that I wanted to run a marathon as after finishing my first half marathon at Stroud in October 2015, I was gutted that I hadn’t entered the 2016 London Marathon. However, the evening after I’d completed the Stroud Half with Rach, I signed up straight away for the Gloucester City Marathon in August 2016.
My training partner at the time, the inspirational Rach Goatman , was down to run the 2016 London Marathon so we agreed that we would train together. She would do London and I would do another Marathon. I therefore set my sights on the Shakespeare Marathon in Stratford-Upon-Avon on 24th April 2016. Rach and I trained the whole winter doing endless long runs around Berkeley, Ham & Rockhampton. As we are both crazy, we had a right laugh together, encouraging each other and egging each other on to push ourselves even more. Rach is one of the most determined people I know and I’m proud we started our running journeys together. Rach has set her sights on doing another Marathon and as we haven’t done one together yet, she is going to sign us up! Watch this space. The original Team Awesome will be back again soon!!!
So my training over that particular winter went well. I completed the Berkeley 20/20 Fission run with Rach in March 2016 and then whilst Rach was doing London, I was ready to run the Shakespeare Marathon, but events didn’t quite go to plan. On the Thursday before Shakespeare, I started getting a sore throat. Then by the Friday it was worse and by Saturday it turned out to be a fever so I had to cancel the hotel and couldn’t do the race. It was diagnosed as Tonsillitis in the end. How miserable was I that Sunday morning when, still poorly, I got up and made a point of watching the whole of the London Marathon on TV and followed all the Dursley Runners on the tracking app online. It was fun as we got regular updates. I was so chuffed for Rachael as she did so well and battled so hard to finish it. I said to myself that day, that the following year I would to be on the starting line and so my marathon journey began……………………
Just to add, during the Summer of 2016 whilst on holiday, I read 2 running books by Lisa Jackson – Running made easy and Your Pace or Mine. Lisa runs marathons most weekends and she does it for fun, she is not worried about her pace, just wants to finish them wearing her tutu. She quite often finishes last. This was the inspiration that set me off on my ‘marathon a month’ journey. This challenge started in October 2016 and my plan is to keep it going for as long as I can…………My next target is a sub 4 hour marathon so let’s see where it takes me!
Marathon #1 – Worcester Marathon – 22nd May 2016 – 4:58.25 (PB)
Finishing this race was one of my proudest moments. It was my first marathon and to finish it in under 5 hours, to say I was emotional was an understatement. The conditions were perfect; it was overcast / sunny and there was light drizzle at times. I walk/ran from 22 to 25 miles, I thought I wasn’t going to make it, but I dug deep and hung on. Katherine and the boys were driving alongside me as I was running at about 24 miles and it inspired me to finish strong!! Boy was that tough, but the feeling after completing it, made me want to do another one. Damo’s marathon journey had begun!
Marathon #2 – Gloucester City Marathon – 7 August 2016 – 4:35.36 (PB)
It was a sunny August day, surprisingly not absolutely roasting and there was a slight breeze, but it was warm for running. I was prepared, lots of water on my back and gels in my pocket. It was going to be a slog, but one that I was definitely going to complete. I was chatting to Kevin Jackson at the start whilst he was eating his banana, he is one of the guys who has really inspired me competing in over 700 races and is always around at races for a friendly chat. I knew my family were all waiting to cheer me on at the end and this was the motivation for me to try and finish strongly. It was actually quite a nice race, there was good support around Gloucester. I went off far too quick at 9-minute/mile pace, but soon reigned myself in and got my rhythm, talking to a few like minded runners on the way round. There was great support from Rob Woodward and Mark Brasier, who were on their bikes cheering us on. It was really good, they kept appearing all over the place! I ran/walked the last 4 miles, my running pace had dropped right off, this was a war of attrition, a war that I won. From this day, I decided I loved marathon running!!! I’ll be back next year for another PB hopefully.
Marathon #3 – Isle of Wight Marathon – 9th October 2016 – 4:54.05
Billed as the hilliest road marathon, it certainly lived up to its name! It was the 60th year of this race and I was proud to be part of it. I ran the race with Dave Saunders and unfortunately he became ill towards the end so had to drop out. I managed to finish in sub 5 hours which I was chuffed with seeing as it was so hilly. Had a fantastic weekend away with the family and catching up with Dave and his wife. Will be back one day to get sub 4 hours!!!
Marathon #4 – Gordano Round Marathon – 12th November 2016 – 6:28.53
This was an incredible experience and I am grateful to Dave Halford for sticking with me all the way round. It was a self navigating trail marathon, through some tough terrain with lots of hills. It was really tough on the body and mind and thankfully I had company. Dave kept me going. We got lost at one point but it was fine, we found our way in the end! This ended up being my longest ever run as we did 27.8 miles! Maybe I’ll go back this year and see if I can beat my time! We’ll see!
Marathon #5 – Portsmouth Coastal Marathon – 18th December 2016 – 4:24.44 (PB)
On a nice cold early morning on the 18th December, Simon Jones and I left Dursley at 5.50am to travel to Portsmouth to do the Coastal Marathon. Full of anticipation, were we going to get blown away? What was the terrain like? All sorts of questions entertained us for the journey down. We were escorted to the start by a piper playing her bagpipes. This was probably my favourite marathon to date in the end. The mixed terrain made it interesting, it was a mixture of tarmac, trail, road and sand. It was very flat which made it quite easy going. The weather was perfect – it was cold but not too windy. It was an out and back but I didn’t mind that. This was the first marathon where I managed to run all the way round without walking. I had my backpack on so didn’t need to stop at the water stations, although after 20 miles and with some Jaffa cakes on offer, I grabbed a handful and went on my way. The last mile was on the promenade and it was nice to know that the end was in sight. When I got to the end, Simon was a mess, he’d finished in 3:45 and pushed himself passed the red line, but then he’d got cold and dehydrated whilst waiting for me. Half an hour in the ambulance sorted him out and we treated ourselves to the food of champions on the way home (McDonalds of course!!!) Burger, nuggets, fries and banoffee pie, yum yum!!
(Note from the editor, getting yourself sorted after a race is as important as your preparation, warm clothes, I can never wear too many layers top or bottom, the opposite to my advice for running I know! I never forget a woolly hat, plus foo. Then I am ready to go and support DRC finishers. If going to an event with someone else plan to have your clothing available, I was caught out at the CWR last year with my clothing in Wotton and a delayed pick up, unlike Simon I didn’t have an ambulance on hand, fortunately I had Rich Smith and a puffa jacket!)
Marathon #6 – Winter Enigma Marathon (Milton Keynes) – 8th January 2017 – 4:23.32 (PB)
There are not many marathons in January, but as I intended to do 1 a month, I found this one. This event is very well run by the Enigma running team, they are specialists in organising marathons. It was great. I turned up Sunday morning in Milton Keynes, the weather was favourable, chilly and a bit drizzly, but great running conditions and I ran 7 ½ laps of Caldecotte Lake. People say running laps is boring, not for me, I actually quite enjoyed it. I monitored my pace, chatted to a few people, listened to some classic rock and managed to kill 4 hours 23 minutes, no problem! There was a windmill, some ducks, lots of walkers thinking we were mad! I was avoiding children on scooters. It was all good and would I do it again, of course I would. I treated myself to a large Starbucks coffee on the way home and got back in time for Roast Pork with the family and a nice glass of red wine or was it 2!!
Marathon #7 – Gloucester Winter Marathon – 5th February 2017 – 4:17.41 (PB)
February’s marathon was Gloucester Winter Marathon. It was 3 laps around Epney & Longney, not Gloucester at all, but hey it was quite pleasant. There were a number of sneaky hills, but it was quite a friendly race and I was enjoying some banter with the other runners. The marshalls were very friendly and there were lots of cyclists around cheering us on. Kate Browning (Marathon / Ultra Marathon Legend) and Mark Springings were also there from DRC. Kate was running for a good for age place for London and did very well as usual and It was Mark’s first marathon and he smashed it. I made the error of just having a shower after the race, not an Epsom salt bath and my legs were twitchy all night and I didn’t sleep well. Another lesson for me! Roll on the spring and the next one!
Marathon #8 – Wrexham Marathon – 12th March 2017 – 4:15.42 (PB)
I had booked a weekend away with my wife and 2 boys (I’m a good husband really, what more do you want than a weekend away in Wrexham!) We travelled up to Wrexham on the Friday through the Shropshire countryside. We stayed in a Premier Inn and the boys love them as they know what they’re getting and they feel like home from home now. On the Saturday, we visited Llangollen and walked across the Aquaduct which is the tallest in the world and what an awesome piece of engineering it is. Sunday was race day and in my mind I’d planned to just try and enjoy it, not to worry about a PB with London being only 6 weeks away. It was a tough race, there was a 20 miler and a half marathon going on at the same time, but there were only 300 marathon runners. We were very spread out and with no music and no company, it was difficult to remain focussed. The countryside was nice, the sun was shining, but the parts around the industrial estates were a bit monotonous. I kept myself entertained by cheering other runners on. There was a guy who ran in a Duracell bunny outfit which made me chuckle and a Stormtrooper. Overall a nice weekend, fantastic roast in a pub near Ludlow on the way back and a satisfying Epsom salt bath when I got home. Job’s a good ‘un!
To be continued…………………
I’ve already got Paris Marathon (another weekend away for Katherine and the boys for her 40th birthday), London Marathon, and a few others planned for the remainder of the year.
Just need to keep looking after myself, lots of stretching (Matt S), Sports Massages (Mary-Beth) and at least 2 rest days a week (Dave D).