Portsmouth Coastal Marathon 2018

23rd December 2018 

I entered the coastal marathon off the back of my first 70.3 in Weymouth in September. I’ve been running for many years but always focused on faster, shorter distances. Plodding for hours never really appealed to me. I’ve also had sciatica for the past 5 years, and when I’ve tried to increase my distances it has the magnified the symptoms. I found training for the event pretty challenging. I had a few niggles and really struggled with motivation. I also discovered that my tummy doesn’t like it when I run over 10 miles. I planned my training routes around public toilets, which provoked some anxiety, which of course made it worse. Michael and I had a plan for this. On race day he would drive the camper van and pop up at various points on the course with a makeshift loo (bucket) in the back.

A couple of weeks before the marathon my right calf went on a short run and I walked home for the last km. I didn’t run until the day of the event. By this point my goal had changed, I decided I was no longer going to run for a time, I just wanted to complete it. I was feeling much more positive when Kelly Stokes suggested that a few of us run together. On the morning of the event I headed down to the Pyramids in the pouring rain, not feeling particularly enthusiastic. I met up with some of the tribe. After big discussion about clothing and a few changes, five of us (Kelly Stokes, Bex Hughes, Vini Vecchiatti, Anthony Johns and me) set off together at sub 4-hour pace. When we hit the shoreline, this became less achievable. Much of the course was waterlogged and very muddy, which would have been fine with some decent running shoes, not so easy with slick road shoes. Bex was powering through the mud, Kelly, Vini and I were skating all over the place. We still kept a steady pace and walked through the aid stations, which were stocked with all sorts of goodies. I even had a shot of beer and a mulled wine. I felt great throughout most of the race, it was my first marathon, I was doing it with friends, and I didn’t need one loo stop! As agreed, Michael was there at various points with the van but unlike any of my previous long runs I was just fine. I kept expecting to hit the ‘wall’ but the adrenaline carried me round. I couldn’t fault the marshals and the support on the course and the support that other runners offered to each other.
The last section, along the seafront was probably the toughest. By this point my legs were tired, but I knew that we were close to 4 hours, so we pushed pretty hard, and tucked in behind a few taller runners.  We finally finished in 3:58 and the icing on the cake was being awarded my medal by Louise Miller and a beer served by Fran Marshman (I adore these women more than words can say). Big thanks to Bex, Kelly, Anthony and Vinfor setting the pace helping to make my fist marathon such an enjoyable experience. Also thank you to Rob and all the marshals and volunteers for your hard work. I was only planning to tick one off the list, but I don’t think I’ll be stopping there.

I completed my first marathon and I didn’t do a ‘Paula’.




Sian Hawkes