16 July 2013

Rachael Taylor works for YMCA Black Country Group as the Host Co-ordinator for the Open Door Project. Rachael decided to run the Coniston Marathon to raise money for the Open Door Project, to enable the young people and Hosts involved in the project to go for a break on a residential weekend away, to get to know each other better.

Here’s how she got on:

I ran the London Marathon in 2011 and swore that I would never do it again… But, after Christmas (and a couple of glasses of red wine) I was sitting in front of a log fire reflecting on 2012 and started to think about New Year’s Resolutions for 2013. Described by Runner’s World Magazine as the most scenic trail marathon in Britain, Coniston Lake Marathon is also described as challenging; July 7th was months away – I was excited!

I started training in January, running about 5 miles most mornings before I came into work and doing a longer run at weekends. My longest training runs were 20 miles, which I tried to do really early on Saturday mornings so I can go back to bed for a couple of hours when I finish without losing the whole of my weekend. It was taking me just under 4 hours to run 20 miles. In total, I ran over one thousand miles since January – that’s further than running from West Bromwich to Madrid!

The last couple of months of training were really tough. First I went over on my ankle which left me with some damage to my tendon and I fell over twice, with spectacular style, leaving me with bruised knees and shoulder.

With a week to go, I felt so nervous. Some people say if you can run 20 miles you can run 26.2, but people who say that have never ran a marathon!

On the day of the marathon, I knew that I wasn’t as fit as I was when I ran the London Marathon in under four and a half hours. I also knew that this race was going to be more physically  challenging, but I had managed to get a few 20 mile runs in and I hoped I would manage a time of around five and a half hours.  The last hour before starting a race is always the worst. I tried to relax and take in the beautiful surroundings but I felt sick with anticipation; it was 7am and it was already so hot.

We finally got started and the first 10K went really quickly. Some of the hills were quite steep but I remember thinking at this stage that it wasn’t too bad. It started to get warmer but I plodded on and reached the highest point overlooking the lake in just over two and a half hours. The view was fantastic but the terrain started to get really rocky and I couldn’t run and look at the scenery at the same time, I had to look down to see where I was putting my feet.

As I started the descent, I started to feel pain in my left hip. This gradually got worse as I ran towards the end of the lake. I was forced to walk and several people who I had overtaken earlier on went past me. All the other contestants were really encouraging, telling me “well done” as they went past or “you’re running really well” when in actual fact, I was hobbling along like a lame donkey! I had thought it would be easier once I got to the bottom of the hill but the terrain got even worse.

We were now running through a kind of muddy swamp and as it got hotter still, there were thousands of horrible flies buzzing around me. I really felt like giving in, my hip was now really painful and I actually started to cry. I was walking more than running, I think the only reason I didn’t give in was the embarrassment of returning in an ambulance and not completing it when people had sponsored me. The swamp seemed to last forever but eventually I staggered out, covered in mud.

It took me over five hours to complete 20 miles. The last 6.2miles took me another hour and 40 minutes. I finally finished in 6 hours 39. I ran the last mile with 2 women from Scotland. One of them was crying from exhaustion and when we crossed the line it was actually quite emotional. I imagine it’s how troops feel when they return from battle – it was like we’d survived some terrible experience together. Quite a few people gave in because of the heat, it turned out to be the hottest day of the year so far! Some took over 7 hours to finish….so I felt some relief that I hadn’t come last.”

There’s still time to sponsor Rachael for her efforts, please give what you can to help her reach her £200 target!

Well done Rachael!