Only eight parkruns! The story of my first marathon, a year ago, I decided during the midst of another lock down to think about what events I wanted to do for 2021. Something that I had always wanted to was a marathon. The Yorkshire Marathon came up and it was conveniently timed at the beginning of my daughter’s half term holiday. After asking around this seemed like a good event and was actually rather flat! Yes I was surprised given it was Yorkshire.

female running marathon Only eight parkruns! The story of my first marathon
Only eight parkruns! The story of my first marathon

Following my half ironman triathlon in July, I started to focus more on my running. I had got up to a half marathon, but now needed to start building it up.

Training for a marathon

Training was rather a roller coaster as I had a number of different injuries over the 6 months prior to the event with my hip, ankle and knee. However, thanks to an amazing sports therapist, physiotherapist and osteopath, I was able to still train. There was never a point where I had a game over injury.

I’m very pleased to have made it to the start line of the marathon. My husband, daughter and friend were all there to support. I got dropped off near the start on a dull drizzly Sunday morning in October. As I waved goodbye and stood there momentarily wondering what on earth I was doing! I soon came round again and followed everyone else who looked like they were about to run 26 miles.

Decided myself not to do the bag drop off, instead wearing everything I needed for the event. I had my hydration vest with soft bottles filled up with water an an electrolyte drink, then enough food to probably feed a few marathon runners! I was not really a big fan of gels, enjoying more solid forms for fuel like malt loaf and banana bread. My pockets were certainly crammed full of energy fuelled treats. Over my running gear, I had an old pair of tracksuit bottoms and a hoody that I would leave near the start to be collected for charity. Then over this was a stylish ‘bin liner’ dress to keep me warm and dry.

After going to the toilet at least 5 times in the space of an hour, it was then time to head to the start. I was so happy to be here. My hip, and knee where all taped up. I had warmed up and now just wanted to get going.

The Start of the Marathon

The gun eventually fired and we were off. It wasn’t so much of a race for me, I was treating it more like a training run. As this was my first marathon, I had no particular time in mind except that I had to beat my husband’s time of 5.24 hours! I started with the 5 hour pacers and would see how it went.

It’s too overwhelming to look at a whole marathon in one chunk. Instead in my head, I found the easiest thing was to break it into 8 park runs. I can do a 5 km easily. It’s only 8 of these!

We headed into the centre of York, past the city walls and down to the Minster. At this point I saw my support crew for the first time. It was lovely to see them. I was smiling and waving at this point. We then headed out of the city into the North Yorkshire countryside. The route was certainly beautiful and surprisingly flat for Yorkshire.


Got to about the 4 mile point and then I started to get a bit of a niggle in my right inner thigh or adductor. My initial thoughts were ‘oh no you can’t get an injury now, you’ve only just started’. There was a lot of catastrophic and not particularly helpful language going on inside my head. I managed to calm myself down and think about the situation logically. I then did some stretches. This to my relief really did help. I then carried on, but had to stretch every few miles. I think I hadn’t warmed up as well as could have done due to the torrential rain and then hanging around to get going.

Started to think of ways I could distract myself and started to find other people to chat to. I saw a group of ladies with the 100 Marathon Club on their back. Was intrigued and wanted to learn more so started running with them for a while. There was one lady who was doing her 274th marathon and today was the 10th anniversary of her first marathon! Buoyed on by speaking to this inspirational group of ladies, I carried on. If they could do this many marathons, I could get through one!

I was still struggling with my leg and when I saw my support crew again, was less smiley this time. Time for more forms of distraction. The 5 hour target had slipped away and unable to catch the 5 hour pacers. Instead in the far distance I spotted some people with large Minion costumes. That would be my next target to catch them up.

soon reached the half way point and started feeling more confident. Now there were only 4 half marathons to go. I had done lots of half marathons so knew I could definitely do this now. My adductor pain had now subsided and I started running faster and getting closer to catching those Minions. The miles started coming down. I saw my support crew again perhaps about 6 km to go , looking much happier. When speaking to Phil about it later, he was then concerned he wouldn’t get to the finish in time due to my sudden speed increase!


Mentally I was in a good place. Physically, I was getting increasingly more painful blisters and could feel more appearing as I was running. If I tuned into this I would stop running and just cry. However, I tuned out of the pain and kept thinking about how I would feel at the end. Endurance events are far more about the mind than the body. If you tell yourself you can’t do something, then it’s game over. Your mind is so powerful, you need to get it working with you not against you.

I was able to maintain the positive self-talk and continue. Eventually I did catch up with the Minions with about 4 miles to go. Another small achievement which spurred me on. I was getting rather weary now and just wanted to get it done. However, I was still running and passing lots of people who were walking. About 5 km to go I started chatting to a guy who was also flagging. We kept each other going.

About 1 mile from the end, they decided to put a hill! What kind of a sick joke is this? There wasn’t many hills on the whole course, yet the steepest one was at the very end. There was a lot of countering and muttering going on my us and all those around us. However, with each others support, we were able to run up it. We both admitted that we wouldn’t have run up the hill without each other.

Once reaching the top, we were nearly there. About 500 metres to go. We could hear the cheers of the crowd. Just one last push and we would be crossing the line.

Suddenly I got rather emotional. This was a big deal for me. I kept thinking how proud my dad would have been if he could have seen me. I’ve achieved a lot this past year, especially challenging myself physically. I was determined to create some positives out of losing my dad on Boxing Day.

Yes, I crossed the line, with a few happy tears in my eyes and got my finishers medal. It was done. Those hours and hours of training and pounding the streets at 5.00 am had paid off. I had completed my first marathon!


Would I do one again? Yes I would. Perhaps not next year but may be the year after. Before you ask, I did beat Phil’s time and completed my marathon in 5:11:42!

I get a lot of people saying to me ‘I couldn’t do a marathon’, ‘I couldn’t do a triathlon’, well yes you could! Perhaps not yet, but if you break something down and set smaller goals, you will get there in the end with persistent effort and self belief.

Please get in touch if you would like help to achieve your own fitness goals. I offer fitness mindset coaching sessions, accountability and goal setting sessions.

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