ROADRUNNERS’ latest international Jane Davies tells the inside story of her debut for the England Age Group Masters team at the Chester Marathon…
SUNDAY, October 7th, saw me up before dawn tucking into a tin of cold rice pudding… my pre-marathon breakfast of choice.
By 7am I had donned my England vest and lots of layers of warm clothing and outside the sun was coming up. Our first task was to scrape the ice off the car before heading into the city to Chester racecourse.
At race HQ, there was already a buzz and a warm welcome at the England Athletics tent. Pre-race team photos were a challenge as we had to strip off down to race kit in glacial conditions.
Our paparazzi moment was soon over and there was time for a quick canter around the racecourse before heading to the special start pen for the Celtic Challenge competitors. We were just behind the elites and puffed up with pride.
We set off at 9am with a loop around the city before heading out into the countryside and crossing the border into Wales.
My race plan was to average 5 minute-kilometres, but my new Garmin was telling me that I was doing 4m 35s. A quick decision (and it proved to be a good one) was to keep going at that pace for as long as possible, ticking off each kilometre.
It was certainly a gamble as I had done 3h 41m at Brighton in April and my race plan for Chester was a finish time between 3.30 and 3.40.
My progress was helped by lots of family support en route; my husband, Phil, who I saw twice and who was in charge of my performance-enhancing jelly babies; my daughter, Helen, with her friend, Lizzie, and our granddaughter, Lexi, had found themselves a Welsh vantage-point; my son, Michael, daughter in law, Claire, and our baby grandson, Zac, were close to the start and later cheering me on as I came along the home straight at the finish.
My parents, Ann and Richard, were with me in spirit, supporting from their home in Suffolk, so I had four generations of family support in all.
I was in good spirits throughout the race with just one flat patch early on around the six-mile mark, but soon came through this and out the other side.
At the 20-mile point, when marathon gurus tell you that you are psychologically halfway, I knew I had to keep strong and have faith that my training would pay off. It certainly did and I overtook a lot of fellow runners during the last six miles.
The route was mainly flat with a few undulations until the last mile when we found out they’d been saving up a serious hill for us. It was SO tough at that stage of the race and we all had to dig deep to conquer it.
Finally, the racecourse was in sight and the finish gantry – euphoria! Now I know how the horses feel.
As we crossed the finish line to the roars from the crowd, we were rewarded with a wonderfully calorific goody bag (not a nosebag!) and a chunky medal.
My race stats :
- Finish time : 3.22.23 (PB : London marathon 2013 : 3.22.15)
- Second in F55 category
- 59th female out of a total 831 = top 8 per cent of women overall
- Overall – 553 out of 2785 = top 20 per cent
I would recommend the Chester marathon for its excellent organisation, lovely venue, wonderful marshals and for all the friendly local people who came out to support.
Plans now are to enjoy the cross-country season running for the club then to tackle the London marathon once again in April. It will be my tenth London, 30 years after I first ran it in 1989.