Yorkshire Marathon brings another pb

Yorkshire Marathon brings another pb

My Marathon Journey in the 10th Anniversary Yorkshire Marathon 15 October 2023
Carolyn Park

‘Being at the start line is the measure of the commitment made, the course and finish line are a celebration of the same – just enjoy it’

Wise words of encouragement from a friend and fellow Dragon who himself has taken part in a number of ultramarathons and extreme challenges over the years and knows and understands what commitment is needed to achieve this kind of physical challenge.

Being at the start line of the 10th Anniversary Yorkshire Marathon was a huge personal achievement. I ran my first marathon, London, in 2015 and it took over 8 years to arrive at the start line of my second. With recurring injuries, the pandemic, tripping and hurting my knee when running for the airport bus on the way to Bordeaux Marathon in 2019, it seemed like I’d never achieve my goal of completing another 26.2 mile challenge.

However, this summer things just seemed to fall into place. With consistent training, adjustments to my training plan and a positive mindset, my preparation came together. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy – fitting in my training runs around work, children and the running club, running my long runs on my own, it was a huge challenge for me . But as I finished my last 20 mile training run, I felt a great sense of achievement that the hard work was done, ‘the hay was in the barn’, to quote another supportive friend and club member.

Tapering went well until the week leading up to the race when maranoia set in. My achilles felt tight, my shins were sore, my family and work colleagues had been ill with Covid and I convinced myself I was coming down with it too, but after a week of rest, serious carb-loading and, despite a few pre-race wobbles and tears, I made it to the start line.

Conditions were perfect, a crisp sunny Sunday morning, and the atmosphere around the event village was buzzing. I’d already achieved my goal of getting to the start line without injury so my finish time wasn’t my main focus. But I felt strong as I joined the crowd of runners in my pen and my plan was to try and stay with the 4 hours 15 minutes pacer for the first 6 miles and then assess how I was feeling, mentally and physically. Reaching mile 9, I could feel my run was going well and pushed on, running alongside a man from Steel City Striders for the next 6 miles. Finding someone of similar pace to occasionally chat to and maintain pace helped with ticking off the miles and seeing a friend at the half waypoint really lifted my spirits and brought a few more tears.

With around 10 miles to go I was relaxed and positive, enjoying the run and mentally encouraging myself round the course. I adjusted my goal with the aim to finish in 4 hours and 10 minutes. Hitting 26 miles, I thought I would achieve my time but the cruel hill at 26.1 miles proved a challenge and my thighs were screaming at this point, slowing me down. As I started jogging the downhill stretch to the finish, I spotted my daughter who had travelled to surprise me and this give me the final boost I needed. Sobbing and sprinting to the finish, I crossed the line in 4:08:23, delighted that my second half of the race was 4 minutes faster than the first and I’d achieved a 15 minutes personal best on my London time.

The feeling of delight and achievement is still with me. And I did enjoy it.

And now, after a couple of weeks of celebration, rest and 2 lost toenails, I’m starting to prepare for the next challenge – TCS London Marathon 2024 and hopefully a sub 4 hour time.