The Robin Hood Marathon in Nottingham
This run sounded like so much fun! Unfortunately it ended up being pretty run of the mill. The scenery was so-so. We had some nice park mileage, but mostly it was industrial. I thought they would play up the Sherwood Forest theme and that there would be more people dressed as Merry Men, but it was not so. They sold costumes inexpensively, but they were fleece and it was a warm day. Anyone in a fleece tunic and hat would have been pretty miserable in it.
The weather was pretty good. Mild temps, but with a stiff breeze at times. A lot of people were cramping, probably because you do not realize how much you are sweating when the wind blows it all away. I went through way more water than usual and was very glad I had carried a few doses of Salt Stiks. I gave away one dose about half way through to a kid that was already cramping. It was his first marathon and he was clueless. I hope it got him to the end, but I’ll never know since I do not remember his number.
One interesting feature of this race was the way they handed out water, in Iconiq water bags. At first I thought this was kind of cool. Less waste, easy to hang onto when the water stops were 3 miles apart, and fast to hand out which kept the water stops from being such a bad choke point. With the wind, I ended up going through 15-20 ounces of water every 3 miles so my small hand bottle was not enough by itself. With the baggies of water, I was able to grab two at a water station and wait until the next scheduled walk break to empty one into my hand bottle, and drink the other on the run.
There were some serious down sides though. Near the beginning, when the course was still packed with half marathon runners that had taken off with us, someone stepped on a full water bag and it exploded, spraying me from head to foot in water! I was very glad it was not something with sugar in it and I dried out pretty quickly, but it still sucked to be sprayed down like that. Next, they are not easy to get the water out of. You have to squeeze hard and make sure the little tab/spout stands up right. Once you get the water flowing, it squirts out with such force that more than once I managed to shoot it straight down my throat and into my lungs! At one point I did such a nifty job of it that I had to stop until I could catch my breath while every muscle around my ribs cramped up from the coughing spasms. My ribs were still sore the day after. I supposed they take less plastic and so should be more eco-friendly than bottles, but the way they were blowing about and lying in the gutters, I could not help but think about how much harder they would be to pick up and how easily they would wash down the storm drains. It was an interesting innovation, but one I hope not to see in a race again.
Near the end we ran around a lake that was man made, so not very interesting, but it had more swans than I have ever seen at once. A pair came in for a landing very near me and that was pretty cool. They sound like helicopters and skied for a good 30 feet before settling down on the water.
The race ended pretty uneventfully, I was ahead of the 4:45 pacer, but he finished late. The last out and back of about half a mile (it stinks to see the finish line and then have to run the other way for another 5 minutes,) allowed me to wave at and give thumbs up to a few people I had talked to during the race. I gathered my medal and goodies and headed for the massage therapy tent I had been eyeing at the start. All they wanted were donation so I emptied what I had in my SPI belt (which was less than $10) and got a wonderful workout of my calves, hamstrings, and glutes. It was awesome! I thanked them profusely, especially for being willing to work on sweaty, stinky runners. I cannot imagine how they kept from gagging, LOL. Marathon finishers do not smell good under the best of conditions!
Considering how pathetic my mileage has been, I was very happy to finish under 5 hours (which qualified me for Two Oceans,) and without any major pain or issues. All and all, I am glad I ran it.
Future races that I am already registered for:
Dublin Marathon Oct 28th
Newcastle Race Course Dec 8th
Jacksonville Bank Marathon Dec 29th
Coastal Trail Series, Anglesey Jan 18th
Malta Marathon Feb 23rd
Manchester Marathon March 6th
Coastal Trail Series Sussex March 22nd
Two Oceans Ultra 56K April 19th
Windmere Marathon May 18th
Wales Marathon July 13th