Written by Josh Larcombe
Josh Larcombe describes his eventful journey towards finishing the 2018 Bournemouth Marathon.
When I bought my first pair of properly fitted shoes, Saucony Everuns, I decided that I was going to run a marathon. That was in June, and I went for my first gait analysis.
At this point I was running 30 miles per week and not really considering the way in which my training was structured or what I was eating. This is what I would call the ‘bliss period’ where running is done because it is fun, and it comes easily. If you don’t want to run that day you don’t go out.
After my split-second decision to run a marathon I sat down and worked out exactly how I would need to structure my long runs and weekly mileage to reach the goal of 26.2 miles 16 weeks away.
I went home that June buoyed by my planning and set about making this a reality. For the first few weeks it was easy, run what I was already easily running and keep moving up by a few miles a week. I encountered no problems with my increase in mileage until I reached 17-mile-long-runs. For those who don’t run, this is the point where your legs start to feel like you’ve been whipped continuously for three hours.
One particularly memorable Sunday morning was running 17 miles in the pouring rain after the rain had permeated my shoes half a mile in. I’d still do it again – this time in waterproof shoes though.
Other than that, my training went to plan, my mileage peaked at around 50 miles per week with a 21-mile-long-run four weeks before the marathon itself – I ran a 19-mile-long-run the week after. I began my three week taper confident that I was ready to run the distance comfortably.
The week before:
I ran so little that week that for both my runs – two and three miles each – I struggled to get started. This is more of a psychological problem than a physical one. I didn’t get any niggly injuries – unlike my previous race where my calf started hurting a week before. At this point I realised that I had to prioritise sleeping and recovery over the running itself. After my tiring training plan, this was welcome.
The day before:
I don’t think I’d ever been that nervous before. The worst thing is that there is nothing you can do the day before other than rest and think about what you’re going to do tomorrow. My parents did come around in the evening ahead of watching me in the race though, this helped to calm my nerves a little.
I woke up at 6:10 for a 10am start. This wasn’t the plan but it’s what happened, not great but I was asleep early Saturday night. I had my normal breakfast of porridge and a bagel, pinned my number to my shirt and walked the mile to the start line. I get to the already busy athletics ground an hour before the start and queue for the toilet, I then take my first gel of the day minutes before the start.
This was great. I had deliberately started slowly so that I would pass everyone who went out too fast later on. The first few miles are kind, downhill to Hengistbury Head and up a gentle hill to Boscombe. The first water stop is three miles in, by this point some people are already beginning to fall away and walk.
These miles are a nice saunter back down the gentle hill and onto the beach, it’s still pretty easy at this point. I stop for the toilet at mile 8, and accidentally knock the water bottle into the bowl – sorry about that, Bournemouth Council. The comfort ends at mile 12 as the course’s first hill approaches, it’s nothing compared to the hills I run regularly at home, so it doesn’t knock me out of my stride. By the end of the hill many are walking.
I was buzzing having come through the hill unscathed and with the knowledge that my parents are watching somewhere in the next few miles, I cross the halfway point at 2:11. I take my first race gel just after and see my parents at mile 15, I can still smile. The repeated flat running is wearing me down now, it’s boring. I run through the finish at mile 17 – demoralising – and up BIC hill. This part is great, I love hills and I’m now starting to overtake all the people who started quicker than me despite starting in the pen behind mine, this more than makes up for having to run through the finish.
Gels aren’t real food. Stomach pains start at this point. Everything hurts and I’m running away from the finish again. Why did I enter? Pain. I entertain thoughts of stopping at this point by my logical thought process takes over and I soon realise that the pain will only get worse if I stop. I continue.
It doesn’t get any better than this. This is running. This 0.2 miles is easily the best run I’ve ever done. They breeze by and I overtake about five people before the finish. Would definitely do these again. I come across the line in 4:21:09.
I collect my medal, food and race pack. Happy with my negative splits I find my parents and they buy me a pizza, now I remember why I signed up for this race – the finish.