From 5km to 42km, or another C25Ker becomes a Marathoner

From 5km to 42km, or another C25Ker becomes a Marathoner

I love running. I'm not fast, but with my years of hillwalking and cycling I have stamina and can keep plodding on for hours - injury permitting. And that dear reader is my downfall, no matter how careful I am about increasing distances slowly, stretching very well after running, and cross-training, I am rather prone to running injuries.

This means my route from complete beginner runner to even thinking about a marathon has taken two years. Local to me, here in the beautiful Highlands of Scotland, we have a small (~3000), but internationally-supported marathon, Baxters Loch Ness Marathon, run as part of the Baxters Festival of Running. I did the 5K Fun Run in 2012 just after completing C25K, and the 10K last year. I loved the family-fun atmosphere during these races and decided to go for the Big One - the marathon - this year.

Training started well during the early summer, with lovely warm mornings for tempo , easy and intervals runs. I tended to do my long slow run mid-morning, so hubby could accompany me on his mountain bike. These runs stepped up in length as the temperatures soared and I had hours of slogging along in 25°C heat (hot for me, as I prefer cool), drinking 2+ litres of water. Hard work, but good fun.

I was deliberately running about 3 weeks ahead of my training timetable to allow for missing some long runs the weeks were we away in Glasgow watching the Commonwealth Games. Which was just as well as at the end of August I developed an injury in my popliteus muscle. No, I'd never heard of it either, but it a wee muscle behind your knee attached to the calf muscles. After several visits to my sports physio, the last of which was last Thursday, I did a wee 'test run' on Friday and it was ok, so I decided I'd give the marathon a bash.

This is a linear event, running along the minor single-track roads on the south side of Loch Ness. My son Craig (who has done this marathon twice before (but is mainly a hillrunner) and I joined the ~3000 runners to be transported in a fleet of buses to the start line on a moorland hillside in the middle of nowhere.

Luckily it wasn't raining, although it was a cold wind and I, like most others, held onto my trousers and top until the 15 minute deadline for putting our bags into the baggage lorries. I soon warmed up as soon as we set off, as we were in the trees, and out of the wind, and starting on a decline so went off pretty fast. I'd started at the back of the 4:30 group, and we all kept up what felt like a fairly relaxed pace, but was really was too fast. From my Garmin stats, I see we did 10K in 1:05. I walked through the drinks stations (which I've never done in other races) and completed the HM distance in a better paced time at 2:18. After that is was all downhill. No, not the route, as there is a killer hill at mile 18, but my pace. I took longer walk breaks at the drinks and walked the hill, but still felt generally OK. However, at mile 22 my popliteus suddenly shouted to me and sent a pain radiating down my calf and my shin. Ouch! I actually pulled up short with the intense rush of pain, and tried to stretch it out... gently. The stretching didn't really help, so i popped a couple of Ibuprofen and walked on slowly until I felt capable of running very slowly onwards. I imagined my C25K running buddies running alongside me to keep me going. We entered the city at about 24 miles and for the final two miles had the cheers and words of encouragement from spectators to keep me plodding on. I completed the run, managing to run through the crowds at the final km with a resemblance of a smile and not a grimace and got my first marathon medal!

I was about 30 mins slower than I'd hoped for, but still came 86th out of 124 in the F50 category.

Today *everything* hurts, but that's to be expected since I ran 42km, after 4 weeks on the injury bench during which time when I'd only run about 15km. I hope a rest from running will be enough to allow my knee/calf to recover, rather than visiting my physio (she's on holiday for 3 weeks anyway), and I'm in no rush to start training again.

~The photo is thanks to my hubby. As ever, he did a brilliant job of researching the route in advance, checking for closed roads, and finding other roads that would take him to junctions to watch us pass. This picture is from about mile 5. Another couple of photos on my Flickr account here:

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60 Replies

  • Thanks for an inspirational post. What an achievement to run so far - the amount of hard work you must have put into training is incredible. Congratulations! Will this become a regular thing for you?

  • I don't know about regular marathons, but I'll have to at least one more to get a better time.

  • Amazing, amazing, amazing. Fantastic run, photo, and most importantly, fantastic you!

  • Thanks, tanyag. I still feel pretty damn good today - except my body; it still feel broken! ;-)

  • Just relax and enjoy the success :-)

  • Wow! What a feat! I hope your knee mends well and quickly x

  • I hope so too, but at least I have no pressure of training hanging over me.

  • Well done to you. Did a charity walking marathon overnight on Saturday and we continuously wondered how people run the distance. Must have been very tough on a sore leg too. Great respect!!! Linda

  • Ha, Last summer Hubby and I walked The Dava Way - a 26 mile off-road route that follows an old railway line - and I said then I didn't know how anyone could run a marathon. :-)

  • Wow, I am VERY impressed! Well done, and congratulations. Huge congratulations. That is amazingly well done, and so soon after clearing an injury. Congrats!

  • Thanks Tomas. I know the *sensible* thing to do after getting over that injury would have been to start gradually increasing my distances again. However, my physio didn't say I shouldn't do the marathon - and in fact heavily hinted I could do it - so I had to try! ;-)

  • Truly inspirational Swanscot and what beautiful scenery to run to. You are obviously one of life's planners with your injury time built into the programme - always impressed by anyone who has prepared with belts braces and shoelaces in the rucksack just in case!

    Hope the Popeye muscle is as good as new very soon.

  • It is beautiful scenery. I'll try to find a video showing the route. The forward planning was partly due to knowing I miss some weeks training with travel, but with my injury record, I feared that too.

  • WOW! Very well done you. How nice to be able to run a marathon mainly out in the countryside. I always imagine convoluted routes round city roads. Looks fantastic.

    So sorry to hear about your injury. Do hope a well-deserved rest does the trick.

  • Thanks, rnb. Although we didn't have the cheering crowds for 26 miles like some city marathons, I had some lovely chats with new, temporary 'running buddies'.

  • Amazing, Brilliant, Awesome Ms Swanscot :) Truly inspirational post. I hope that you injury disappears with a little time and rest. So .. what is next? Ultra?

  • I wish I was able to run an ultra, but don't think my body can do it. Next goal is to get a new marathon PB!

    Meanwhile my return to running will be simply to enjoy the off-road running all aroudn us here.

  • WOW, WOW - that is a brilliant post - Congratulations!!! I saw this race and thought that looks interesting (nI am not even attempting HM let alone a full marathon). Plus the fact you managed to carry on even though you were in pain - well done for carrying the provisions you needed - i just would think of stuff like that until its too late!! Congratulations once again and enjoy your rest and hopefully a speedy recovery!!

  • I remember seeing someone's photos showing their race stuff laid out and they had included painkillers. At the time I thought how shocking that anyone would take them, but I packed a couple 'just in case'. I had to swallow them without water, but I'd been drinking so much water that I'm sure they dissolved quickly. I don't know if they actually helped, or were a placebo or if I just got used to the pain, but at least I felt I was doing *something* to help me run the last 4 miles!

  • I found a video showing the rural nature of this route.

    Even though the route is mainly in open countryside, every so often we'd pass a single house with the folks standing at the end of their driveway clapping and cheering, or at one, a piper playing for us. Also as we neared town a few of the people stood outside offering us jelly babies and extra drinks.

  • Looks so beautiful and with those hills I would be content just to look! Phew!

  • Wow that's fanatsic to finish even tough your injury played up is great determination. Well done on completing your first marathon.

  • Thanks, rfc. I admit I can be stubborn at times. :-). I wouldn't have continued if I thought I was causing real damage to my muscle, but with the visits to the physio, I was reassured that all I was doing was going through temporary pain.

  • Well done Swanscot - you managed to keep that quiet from all of us!! Mega achievement, I hope the aches and pains subside shortly and the little muscle starts to behave itself again. I almost thought the photo was the publicity one - your husband should be congratulated for such a good job.

  • I admit I kept my marathon training quiet all summer, then after my injury a month ago I didn't know if ii'd be able to run in this event anyway, so was glad I hadn't made a big deal of it. I only told a wee few C25Kers who I've met and a couple who I know have run marathons.

    Hubby is quite experienced at photographing me now! He's been my supporter for two years and about 10 - 12 races.

  • Congratulations on your first marathon. It's a huge achievement and a distance I'm not even ready to consider yet, so I am in awe. What a beautiful route too. I hope the muscle niggle doesn't hang around and you're back to running for fun soon, until the next big race, at least!

  • Thanks turbotortoise. I have a couple of races I have my eye in the next wee while, but realistically will just take my time and get back to running for fun.

  • Wow! Congratulations and definitely inspirational, a HM was far enough for me and I've vowed never again! 10ks max for me from now on ;) now you've got some time to rest up have you decided what your next goal will be? :)

  • My next goal is to run again pain free! :-) actually I've no wish to push the distance race-wise. I love doing trail running and will be happy to simply take off and do something fun like run round a loch again - whether that be 10K or 30 K, doesn't matter.

  • A marathon!! Congratulations swanscot, you're an inspiration. :) Can't imagine running carrying pain killers 'just in case'. Hope your knee discomfort is short lived, so you can concentrate on revelling in just what an amazing thing you've done.

  • Neither could I, previously, AncientMum! And hope I don't contemplate doing it again! It's a dsft idea really. :-)

    Thank you.

  • Wow well done. Great photo

  • Thanks, spoonie. Hubby is well practised at being my 'official photographer', not only at races, but oon my long slow runs when he often accompanied me in his bike.

  • Wow! many congratulations, what a great achievement, hope you are recovering well and enjoying a well earned rest :)

  • Thanks, Aliboo. I certainly enjoying my rest. :-)

  • Excellent Swanscott - you really are an inspiration -- I can't even imagine running 42K at this time !! :)

    I have read marathon reports written by people who have done marathons using Jeff Galloways run/walk/run programme. The TWO things that they all comment positively on is firstly that they believe the programme allowed them to do the distance - and secondly, they are all amazed at their recovery after the race - with reports that they suffered no pain at all on the next day.

  • Thanks, Bazza. If it wasn't for my injury and previous 4 weeks on the injury-bench, I'm sure I'd feel fine today. I didn't suffer after ruining during my training, even when running 30km on my long runs - and 50km overall during a week.

  • Great run report on a huge achievement Swanscot! I am so happy that you were able to run and complete your first marathon (I'm sure it will be the first of many!)

    I know how it feels to plod on through injury on the day, & the fact you were running twice as far as me shows real strength & determination :-)

  • Thank you, Poppy. I'm pleased to say I didn't suffer the whole time. In fact the first HM was enjoyable! :-)

  • Brilliant! So impressed, really well done. :) I hope you feel more mobile soon. X

  • Thank you, MrsSparkle. Regarding mobility, yesterday I was just pleased I managed to get up from my yoga mat , once I was on the floor. Today will be progress if I can manage about half of what the class is doing at Pilates this evening. :-)

  • Great stuff Swanscot! Flippin eck, a whole marathon! RESPECT

    I hope you're back to full fitness real soon so you can pick up your training

    Good luck!

  • Thanks, misswobble. Yesterday I tried yoga, today I'm trying Pilates and tomorrow I hope to be back on my bike. Once I can manage to get the miles in on the bike, i'll be happy I'm keeping my fitness level.

  • That's a great read SwanScot, very impressive. I've only occassionally thought of going further than 10k and the thought of only being one quarter complete is quite daunting. Well done you!

  • As hubby, it's just a case of putting one foot in front of the other... again and again...

    Can you tell, he doesn't run? ;-)

  • Wow - fantastic! You are an inspiration! That's it! I'm signing up for a marathon! (well, maybe a half ;) )

  • Thanks Mtt,. I'd say definitely try a half. I did three HMs before trying the full one, but each one was quite differnt. I'm now *really* looking forward to trying my next half; I'm determined to get a HM under 2 hours (current PB = 2:03!)

  • Absolutely gobsmacked, well done you! How kind of your hubby to find places where he could cheer you on from, mine would be down the pub!

  • I'm very fortunate, Curlygurly in that hubby is a keen photographer and like to accompany me to all my races (done 10 - 12 now) and he snaps away at me and the other runners.

  • Well done matey. As ever, you set the bar very high!

  • I just need to conquer the problem of pesky running injuries. Then I'll be unstoppable! Aye right! ;-)

  • Absolutely awe inspiring. I bow to your greatness! Brilliant.

  • Thanks, it's something many folks can do, if they wish.

  • Lovely to hear from you Swanscot, think I'll stick with 10k runs, I can't imagine running for that length of time especially up hills! Well done!!

  • Hi Vengadriver, long time, no hear! I'm really looking forward to doing another 10K and flying in it!! ;-)

  • Fantastic achievement and what a great photo! I feel inspired!

  • The lovely photo is thanks to my sweetie. Inspired? Good! I look forward to reading of your next PB, whether that be distance, pace or entering a race. :-)

  • Wow!! So in awe of you and all the other c25kers who have done marathons, you say it took you 2 years to get to this but I've been running as long and haven't even got to HM yet. Amazing, just amazing - and I love that you're smiling in the photo! :-)

  • Thanks, notbad. How far or fast we go is not a race - unless we race! ;-) Although I admit I race with myself and now HAVE to do another marathon to better my time. In fact I've signed up for another already. :-)

  • I race myself too :-D Fab that you're up for another, I take it from that you must be recovering nicely - hope so.

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