Mouth to Mouth Marathon – A year in the making
Yesterday I got up early, forced a peanut butter bagel in to my mouth, and downed a coffee as I shot out the front door. It was of course race day!
A race I never intended to run this year until two friends said why not? And I said Hell yeah! Whilst gently sipping a lovely Ale in the pub.
The mouth-to-mouth marathon is one of the 4 races in the river series put on by Sussex Trail Events. I’ve had the pleasure of running in some of their other (shorter) events but never taken on one of their trail marathons, or any trail marathon for that matter!
The route takes you from the mouth of the river Adur, up the downslink and on to South Downs Way. Before picking up the river Arun in Amberley and following it to it’s mouth at littlehampton marina, hence the name!
Arriving at the start I felt more than a little nervous, this was not only my first ever off road marathon, but I had done little in the way of prep since Amsterdam Marathon 6 weeks ago. I’d fit in just one long run of 18 miles, and due to my foot injury I hadn’t really clocked more than 20 miles a week. I was still training, swimming and doing yoga, but I didn’t feel marathon ready, in body or mind!
The trail running community has some flipping awesome runners in it, and it was a little intimidating spotting everyone and all their gear arriving for the race. I felt like an amateur at best! I chatted to my friends and panicked over the very real possibility of getting lost.
Setting out in the glorious sunshine I soon realized what a delight this was going to be. I chatted to everyone I ran past or who ran past me, finding people that were looking for a similar pace and I fell effortlessly in to my stride. The views were crazy beautiful from that very first step and not at one point did they disappoint.
I met so many people but a special shout out must go to a lovely chap called Tim who was running a similar pace, and believe it or not we paced it out for the best part of 14 miles together. We chatted races, and families and lives and I was reminded once again of what incredible people runners are.
It was the most incredible day for being on the trails, crisp fresh winter air coupled with sunshine on tap! The aid stations were laden with the best food and drink I’ve ever had at a race, watermelon and jaffa cakes were my personal favs!
The atmosphere was completely chilled and I found the miles flying by. I kept telling myself to bottle how great I felt because the hard times would come and I really needed to remember how good I felt. The scenery was to die for and the course route threw up all the interesting challenges. The climbs were tough, really really tough, but the view from the top as always was worth the struggle.
I had a few friends I was expecting to see at aid stations but apart from that it was limited support and I didn’t really know how I would cope with that. I was surprised how nice it was; just the hills and me, it felt serene!
I knew tough times would come because it’s a marathon, and marathons hurt, but I’d never felt this content on my feet. Getting to the final aid station in Arundel I knew I was going to do it! I was going to have done my longest ever race, my first ever trail marathon, I would break 1000 training miles for the year, and yep all 3 marathons.
My legs were tired, my feet ached, and I had a nasty cut that was causing a bit of additional discomfort. None of it mattered though because I knew it was the final 10k of what can only be known as a life-changing year. I was determined to run that final 10k in the same way I’d run all morning, with a massive smile on my face!
No Lies, that final 10k was TOUGH! It was flat which maybe made me underestimate it, the ground however was incredibly uneven and the wind picked up as the temp dropped. I kept telling myself just two more park runs and then you’re done, ha! At mile 23 I put in my headphones to give me that last push; a bit of 90’s rap and the odd power pop ballad to distract me for just long enough.
As I approached the final mile I took the headphones out because I didn’t want to or need to be distracted anymore. I wanted to breathe it in, lap it up, and finish strong. I looked at my watch thinking I had another mile to do as I ran in to a small crowd of people, not realizing that the race was actually 27.5 miles not 28.5 miles and I had already finished.
The medal lady kindly tracked me down and told me I didn’t have to keep running! And what a beauty of a medal it is!
It was a little weird to finish without my usual support crew there, but life and my rather hectic race schedule means they can’t always be there to cheer me in. In a way though this was totally fitting. This was a race run by me for me, and I loved every single second of it.
I was totally shocked to have come in under 5 hours and in the top 10 women.
A huge shout out to my running buddies Shelley and Vicci who both totally smashed it, the incredible people I got to chat with, the aid station heros, STE for putting on an awesome event, Jon Lavis for the sweet pics, and the many many puppies I stopped to cuddle along the South Downs Way!
Get out of your comfort zone it is the most wonderful place to be.
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