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Sunday 20th October 2013

By Mandy Panesar

I started ‘properly training’ for the marathon around the end of July. So proper training meant getting the long runs in, cutting RIGHT back on my wine intake (sob) and doing a bit of bootcamp to strengthen my pathetic core (it’s still pathetic). I tried to do as many midweek training runs as I could but a full time job, 2 needy kids and an even needier dog meant my plan was compromised somewhat. However I stuck to the long runs and marathon training definitely took over my life for about 3 months when I struggled to think or talk about much else. Think I might have turned into a bit of a running bore!

The week before the race, the anticipation and the buzz were building, both with the Roundhay Runners and also in the office where several people were taking part. Me, Alex and Phil, as well as an Otley AC and a Hyde Park Harriers runner (3:12 and 3:09 respectively, but that’s unimportant!) and a couple of others we found on the day, including a ‘dad from school’. Seemed like everyone was at it!

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Night before the buzz climaxed and I was so nervous that I had forgotten something I couldn’t bring myself to turn the lights out when in bed as that would mean actually going to sleep and losing the chance to quadruple check my bag. In the morning to calm nerves, my race prep included watching an episode of Celebrity Juice to keep my mind off what was happening in the next few hours – it strangely helped.

Quick walk up King Lane to clear the head and meet Alex who was driving me to York and I actually calmed down. It just felt like meeting Alex for another Long Sunday run (ignoring the moon and lack of traffic on the roads). The journey from home to the pens was seamless and stress free: from parking, getting to the bus, using the portaloos THREE times, bag drop and finding pacers – all so easy and smooth. I would definitely put this down as a huge positive for the race. Fantastic organisation to make the runner’s job easy. Just get yourself there and concentrate on your run. Not sure if it will be as calm in future years if they start increasing the number of participants though, we’ll have to wait and see.

Once the race started and we got running, I was at my happiest I had been all week. Finally, let’s get going!! Alex and I had agreed to start off together and then split off when we were ready. However she stayed with me for a wee stop behind a bush at about mile 6, followed by a stop at mile 10 for a quick strip off from waist down behind another bush to remove a base layer that was crushing my bloated belly (still don’t know what caused it). Thanks Alex!! By mile 13 we were still running together and feeling good so carried on alternating between listening to playlists so embarrassing we wouldn’t tell the other what we were listening to (ok I confessed to The Show Must Go On – the Moulin Rouge version) to gossiping, chatting and playing games. Our ‘power through the wall’ strategy was to play the ABC game with cities at about mile 15 and then celebrities at about mile 19. Shouting ‘Noel Edmonds!’ ‘Shania Twain’ ‘Nigella Lawson’ honestly worked. It’s a strategy that should be written into all marathon running guides. That along with the amazing support from Rob McDaly (fastest photographer on the course – how did he make it round to mile 3, 23 AND 26?) and Sarah Oldroyd (loudest spectator on the course – Sarah woke me up from a daydream when I first saw her, sorry if I looked a bit startled Sarah!) as well as the people of York…jelly babies, applause, words of encouragement, what great crowds.

Yorkshire marathon 23

By the time mile 24 came round we were both feeling the burn, and knew the last two miles were going to be tough. We kept our heads down and just talked through it and another runner helpfully pointed out if we shut up we might have finished by now! I don’t agree, by that point my legs only knew one speed: slow, and chatting was helping us get to the end.

Mile 26 and Rob McDaly’s lovely smiley face really spurred us on – what a welcome sight! “Just round the corner girls” were Rob’s words. He forgot the words… “up that HILL!”. So we dug deep and the final coping mechanism was a different topic for every minute left of running (yep gossiping about office politics whilst coming up to the finish line). Alex saw her mum and sis and that was the absolute final boost we needed to sprint(ish) over the finish line. We did it!! I had a teary moment which was the only bit of our epic journey Look North chose to share with the rest of Yorkshire but never mind!

Yorkshire marathon 09

The race itself was well organised, fabulous support and crowds, a pretty flat route although the out and back stretches around mile 16-19 (I think) need reviewing, definitely the worst part of the course and a nice easy exit from finish line to baggage collection and back out again. Decent t-shirt and medal and a bag of Seabrooks – genius. I was craving crisps at mile 24!

The day goes down as one of my favourite things I have ever done. Amazing from start to finish, from Keith Lemon at breakfast to Roundhay Runners in Napa, I loved every second of it. Not sure if I will ever do the Yorkshire marathon again but definitely have my sights on an overseas one for 2015….anyone fancy Paris?

Yorkshire marathon 10