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The Unelite Athlete

Race Report from Belfast Marathon

I always love doing this race! It was the first marathon I ever ran, and I’ve been going back for more every year since. So for the fifth time I tried the start line in Belfast, although it was the first time on this new route, which was promised to be faster and flatter.

We were bused out of the city to Stormont estate, and we ran along the route that would take in North, East, South and West of the city, and have great points of attraction to take in along the way. First off, I always have to say this, the crowds of supporters in Belfast are fantastic! This year was no exception, if anything, there were more spectators lining the streets, cheering, applauding and handing out high fives and sweets along the course.

I was lucky enough to meet some friends along the route, and make some new ones. I love that whole community feel during a race, when everyone is laughing and smiling and just really soaking up everything that’s going on. I used to race with my head down the whole time but, now I find you have a much better experience if you don’t shy away from people.

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The miles were flying by, and I was going at a pretty steady pace. A little faster than I felt I should be but, I was feeling good and decided to go with it. In fact I was halfway through and still felt great! I always find that if you’re feeling fresh halfway, then you have normally enough left in the tank to get across the line.

It was around mile 18 that I started to feel it a little, and by mile 20, my plan of running a “faster” final 10km was, well I was laughing at the idea of it. For me this is normally when the grittiness kicks in.

Taking in the crowds at the start line

When you start to feel a little uncomfortable, you can cry about two things…

1 – crying to stop

2 – crying to keep going

The latter of the two is definitely the one I’d recommend but, it’s easy to let the doubt creep in when your legs are seizing, and your calorie outgoings is far greater than your calorie intake. This wasn’t happening to me that bad though. I was feeling great. By mile 23 I had found my pace again, and was weaving in and out passing those that weren’t as lucky as me to be having such a good race.

Mile 24 and 25 were tough but, I loved it! I love when you get closer to the finish line because the crowd gets bigger, louder! I feed off it and it makes my arms swing, which makes my legs go. Well that and the jelly babies that I get pretty greedy with (my hands turn into sweet scoops). Turning into the finishing straight is always special.

It always makes me see how fast I can run it, just to totally empty the tank. I didn’t get a PB, but I wasn’t far away from it, and I didn’t really focus much training on the marathon distance, I just ran it to the best of my ability and gave it everything I had. To me that’s racing. There’s no point in walking away thinking you could have gave a little more.

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How did you get on?  I’d love to know your times and what challenge you have set yourself next!

Catch up with you soon,

Calum

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