Bournemouth marathon

This was my fifth marathon and safe to say my worst. I think I’ve been very lucky so far to have had some truly great marathon experiences. I’ve felt strong, without injury and run past all those poor people at the end who were stopping, stretching and limping. Spoiler alert: I was one of those people at Bournemouth. I suppose my streak of good marathons had to end at some point and having a bad one only makes me want another good one so much more. I finished, thankfully, but it was through a lot of pain and determination.

**All photos are from various friends: Gary Trendel, Louise Larkum Bond, Karen’s family, my dad, Debbie Hampton – I’m very grateful, thank you!** 

I got up at 6.30am, got dressed and ready, made my porridge and coffee and hit the road with my dad. We picked up my running club friend, Mike, and headed on our merry way. Parking wasn’t free but not extoritionate and was close to the main race HQ so it was fairly easy-going at the start (there were portable loos and proper loos without majorly long queues). So many people from my club were there, either supporting or running one of the many races Bournemouth Marathon Festival put on (5k, 10k, half, marathon). My previous marathons have all been pretty much on my own, without a lot of people from the club, so it felt lovely to have so many people to chat to, talk about goals with and just mill about with.

I was glad to have my dad there as well. He’s now seen all but one of my marathons and still loves to support.

Bournemouth marathon support crew

I had no real time goals for this marathon. I’m happy enough with Liverpool’s PB to leave that be and knew my training hadn’t been as good, so I was vaguely aiming for a 3:45-3:30 time, closer 3:30 if I felt strong at the end. Quite a few of us were aiming for those times so we started together.

Bournemouth marathon 19

My friend Karen was running her first ever marathon and her training hadn’t been ideal due to illnesses and generally being a busy mum, but she was aiming for sub 3:45 for a GFA (she’s a sub 19 5k runner so it wasn’t unrealistic).

Bournemouth marathon 14

We took the start nice and easy and got into a good rhythm. The course is great because you come back on yourself quite a few times which means you can see lots of people lots of times, either in front of you or behind – and it’s a great one for supporters. With a lot of the club doing the marathon it meant a lot of cheers and support. I was feeling comfortable and we chatted away (to the point that one of the marshals on the bike kept laughing at us as we were apparently always talking when he saw us – and a fellow runner also said he wanted to stick with us our conversations were so entertaining!!).







Bournemouth is not a flat marathon. It has gentle long inclines and if there’s a wind it can be quite brutal as it’s along the seafront. However, the gentle breeze was a welcome relief from the hot sun that was beating down.

Bournemouth marathon 1

We were keeping a consistent pace and the miles seemed to fly by. At mile 6 I had a MuleBar gel (salted caramel flavour – I did a review HERE). This flavour absolutely rocked my world. Possibly the best thing I ate all day. It literally tasted like liquid caramel. I would gladly have that as a snack!

Bournemouth marathon 12

But around mile 7 or 8 my left leg (vague knee area) started to twinge ever so slightly. I ignored it because it wasn’t painful, just an awareness. As the miles ticked away though it started to niggle more. I tried not to panic and continued on.







As we got to mile 12 we both started to struggle: Karen with the heat and me with my knee. Around mile 12 there was a steep hill and we both agreed to walk it. My knee had progressed to a definite niggle. I stopped and stretched to see if that helped. My quads had been tight all week, I put it down to that.

I kept smiling for the cameras, waving to supporters, saying thank you to marshals, but the whole time a raging panic and debate was happening in my head. Karen had a quick loo stop and I stopped and stretched again – and got caught on camera by a friend in the club and I thought I’d have a moment of fun…

Bournemouth marathon 17

I tried to stay positive. I ran on, knowing Karen would catch me up as I could foresee more stopping and stretching ahead. I started to wonder how much this marathon meant to me. I could pull out and have a DNF and not make this niggle into a full-blown injury, or I could struggle on and get another marathon ticked off with the knowledge that I had no other big races until next year.

I pushed on. I saw my dad at mile 14 and collected a gel from him (Clif Double Expresso – very nice, but quite thick and sticky; definitely need water with this one). I quickly told him my knee was bad and I was having a tough time. His face fell and he wished me luck. Chatting with Karen helped us both take our minds off our own personal hell. What frustrated me most was that I felt strong and capable, it was simply my leg that was in pain.







At mile 18 we got to the next significant hill and we walked again. We were both rather demoralised. We kept doing the maths to see how badly this would affect Karen’s 3:45 aim (though her maths was significantly better than mine! I was useless).

Bournemouth marathon 3

I imagine this photo is probably before half-way

For the next few miles we were run-walking. I was too far away now to quit – as in, I’d have to walk back anyway so I might as well carry on. A lovely girl randomly called to me hello and said she was a blog reader. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me in my dark marathon moment. She was steaming along nicely and it brightened me up significantly. Thank you, Jenn! 🙂 She did very well I believe.

My pattern became: stop and stretch (which was absolutely pointless, as you can probably tell) and then run to catch Karen up. I suddenly found running at a brisk pace helped my leg and the pain wasn’t so bad. I decided to try running faster to see if that helped. I said to Karen that it was highly likely I’d break and she’d catch me up. Being lovely, she told me to go on. For a brief mile I was suddenly OK. This is going to sound bonkers but I started to sing to myself to keep me going (quietly, though a few people noticed and I said I had to do something to keep me going and they chuckled knowingly). The pain was still there, but less so. I suddenly had a bit of confidence spark inside me.

But then that moment ended (that was mile 22) and I was walking again. Stretching was making things worse. Karen caught me up. I tried to keep with her but it wasn’t happening. I told her to go on (oh how the tables change so quickly in a marathon!) and I started the long walk to the finish.

(Side note: Karen finished in a fantastic time of 3:53ish which is amazing considering her training and her struggles).






Those miles took bloody ages. You forget how far a mile really is when you’re running. I walked with some other injured souls and we lamented at our failed attempts. One guy had attempted to break 3 hours and his hamstring tear had returned it seemed. He said he thought he’d be OK as the bruising had gone down a week ago (!!). Jeeze, there’s always someone worse I suppose! He made a brief comment about how he was despairing not finishing in under 4 hours. I shrugged. At this point, I just wanted to finish it. Timing was now irrelevant.

Despite my dark time the support around me was fantastic. People could see I was in pain and cheered me on gently, in that “it’ll be over soon” kind of way. Marshals checked I was OK and consoled me a bit as I walked past. I couldn’t run any more. The pain was too much. Someone cheered me right up by yelling “come on, Miss Abs!”. Take the compliments when you can!! I sat down briefly on the wall and had a quiet word with myself, willing myself not to cry.

My FlipBelt was amazing by the way. Definitely using that again – no bouncing, held everything in place, no rubbing – two gels and a phone snuggly fit in there nicely. But my phone was dead. I have no idea how as I didn’t use it at all during the marathon! I must have left something on I suppose. Consequently I couldn’t ring my dad. As the time ticked past 3:45, 3:50, 4 hours I knew my dad would be worried. But there was nothing I could do but keep on walking. It’s a long stretch, the last few miles, and you can see the finish area the whole time. I just kept it in my sight and kept on walking, determined to get my medal.

As I got (finally) to mile 26 there became a lot more support and either side of the course people were cheering and lined up.

Bournemouth marathon 5

I felt myself welling up as people saw my pain and cheered me on. I grimly tried to smile at them and felt the tears just keep coming. This only made them cheer me on more. I saw my club ahead, put on a brave face, wiped the tears away and thought “sod this melodrama, just bloody finish”.

Bournemouth marathon 6

I barely registered crossing the line because, to be honest, I still had to keep walking. It wasn’t like I was running to stop. I still had to walk to find my dad. I felt like a fraud. But at the same time, I did it. I finished. Thank god.


The medal is amazing. It’s huge! My official time was 4:11:19, which isn’t bad at all I know. Yes it’s 30-40 minutes slower than I intended but these things happen. When people talk about awful marathons I can be fully part of that club now.

And, what absolutely made my day, was meeting Martin Yelling (again)! I was that annoying fan girl though, gushing “I’m a Marathon Talk listener!”. He did a sort of nervous “yay” but really meaning “please don’t be a stalker”. He was lovely, and can I just say, quite dishy in the flesh.

Anyway despite it being a terrible marathon, I don’t regret it. The race was fantastic, the support amazing, the course…challenging, and the marshals brilliant. My one regret is not being able to enjoy those last few miles and run strong through that fantastic support.

Bournemouth marathon goodie bag

Great goodie bag afterwards. Fantastic technical t-shirt and snacks (and an iron supplement thing).

I think I made the right decision to carry on. Yes I’ve buggered myself now and I’m officially an injured runner again, but I have nothing else to prove or achieve for this year. I know I can rest up and come back strong for Boston (finger’s crossed). I just need to be patient.

Plus, it’s an ideal time to take a break for my own personal health and the busyness of my impending (though still date-less) move.

What’s been your worst ever race?

What would make you DNF at a race? Would you have continued on if you were me?

If you use them, what’s your favourite gel?

20 Replies to “Bournemouth marathon”

  1. My worst race ever was Rock and Roll Nashville last April. I was injured and supposed to run my first full marathon. I ended up dropping down to the half and still suffered. I had taken my phone with me and actually called a friend and used my ear buds to talk to her while run/walking the majority of the race. I was in pain after the 3rd mile. It was awful. I finished in roughly 2:20 and was not happy. Now that’s an average time for most I had hoped to run 30 min faster. So I completely understand how you felt! In retrospect I am glad I ran it and finished but I also know it wasn’t the smartest thing to do.
    Staci @ Hoosier Running Mom recently posted…When it sucks to start running again just make GOALS!My Profile

  2. Stubborn. That’s what we all are (it seems to have been the weekend for bad marathons….). Rest properly, and, when you think you’re better, give it another 48 hours before trying. That’s what I used to tell my rugby players, when I did first aid for a team. The ones who listened to me were the ones who managed to get back to playing and stay playing, rather than get back to playing and then have that injury recur. Bloody hard to do, though.

    I DNF’d at a 10k race about two years ago – which was horrible (foot injury. Hadn’t followed my own advice). It was 10 times more horrible because I knew it meant I wouldn’t be in a position to do the Bath Half that year – so I went to cheer N (which I find an immensely stressful experience, because I spend the entire time worrying how well he’s running, and whether he’s injured. It’s much easier when I’m running myself, whether we’re running together or not…). A second DNF on the same course was made a little better because one of my friends DNF’d too – neither of us was feeling terribly well and we shouldn’t have tried.

    My favourite gel? ZipVit. Solid, but not too solid. I don’t like the runny ones. They give me cramps.
    Jane recently posted…Not quite back in the grooveMy Profile

    1. That’s great advice… the temptation to come back too soon is very strong but the disappointment of a failed run is so much worse.
      Never heard of that gel but sounds interesting. I do prefer the more runny though as I struggle to chew when I run as I get a stitch otherwise.
      Sorry to hear about your 10k 🙁

  3. Ah Anna, I’m gutted for you. You’ve done so well to get through the training uninjured (considering your bad luck in getting injured!) and it must be so frustrating to get injured on race day. I’m so glad that it wasn’t a goal race though and it was great that you and Karen helped each other through a tough day at the office. We know what talented runners you both are and like you say, you had nothing to prove.

    I’m just sorry those last miles weren’t more enjoyable. I remember totally blowing up in a half marathon last year where I set off far too fast and had to walk from about mile 8. I wasn’t even injured, just knackered!! It was awful. At least, fitness-wise, you were feeling really strong and it was just the knee that let you down. Rest up and get fixed!

    P.S. I’m sooooo envious of you about Boston (in the nicest possible sense) 🙂
    Autumn recently posted…Why I’m Trying CrossFitMy Profile

    1. I think it’s more that I’m just biomechanically cursed than having bad luck 😉
      It was lovely having Karen there as well (though obviously I do wish she’d have had a better race too). It was nice to basically just bounce of each other about how rubbish we were finding it. I’m glad she finished strong though. On to the next one!
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…Rants and Raves #21My Profile

  4. So sorry you had a rubbish race at the weekend. This was supposed to be your ‘fun’ marathon without any real time goal as well! You look like you are having so much fun in the first half of the race from those photos! I do love the noticeable difference between those last two pictures of you out on the course. Seeing support or people you know is a massive pick-you-up!
    I’ve had rubbish second halves lots of times! Although usually because I’ve rushed off too fast though, rather than through injury. I would absolutely have finished if I was you – it’s all about staying stubborn! 😛
    I hope you make a quick recovery. Has the vague knee area of your left side been an issue before?
    Mary recently posted…What ifsMy Profile

    1. I think at the end of the day it just shows, you cannot predict a marathon. You can go into it thinking you don’t care and it’s just going to be ‘fun’ and it can STILL tear you apart. It’s a long way. But that’s why I love them! The unpredictability, the effect they have on you that stays with you…I’ll never forget those last two miles!
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…Rants and Raves #21My Profile

  5. Like you said at one of those miles in the 20-something’s that blended together with all the others “at least it will make an interesting blog post” ☺️ You’ve got a great attitude and will come back stronger for sure. You’re an amazing runner and an amazing friend. I couldn’t have done it without you there beside me to chat to See you soon for cake!

    1. Though I wish you’d have had a better race for what you wanted I was so glad to have you there with me. It was a tough, tough day. But we both survived and you still did fantastically considering your training (or lack thereof). Onwards and upwards!
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…Rants and Raves #21My Profile

  6. Well, you still manage to take a fantastic race photo even when you’re in a lot of pain and feeling upset deep down. Your smile could light up the world. I never know how anyone manages to project such an air of positivity even in the face of such adversity. I wish I could do that instead of going to pieces.

    I’m so very sorry about your race. Hopefully it’s a valuable experience in terms of reflecting on it in the future and thinking ‘well, if I can finish that race I can do anything.’ I’m sure it will be an insignificant memory when you smash Boston next year.

    I still want to say ‘congratulations’ because I think you should be congratulated for your grit and tenacity. I hope Karen got her goal time in the end – you two are basically the abs twins!
    Jess recently posted…Redcar Half Marathon 2015 ~ 1:36:35My Profile

    1. When you’re walking it’s easy to look OK compared to running 😉
      Yeah it’s one for the memory and hopefully remind me to never assume injuries are a thing of the past…sensible trainers, foam rolling, stretching. All still important for me!
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…Rants and Raves #21My Profile

  7. Im sorry to hear you had such a hard race girlie, but it sounds like you had a good running partner next to you to keep you company as well as motivate you! That is always a good thing to have! I hope that your pain doesn’t turn into a full blown injury! Be sure to rest up and take good care of yourself over the next few days!
    Kat recently posted…Pumpkin Mac & CheeseMy Profile

  8. Sorry it was so tough at the end, but well done for finishing, and looking on the bright side. I think I would have walked (especially with your time!- if it was actually me I might not have made the time cut off!). And yay for meeting Martin Yelling! I think if I had seen him (and I did look basically all weekend as I knew he was something to do with it) I would have been too nervous to even say hello!
    Hopefully after some rest your knee will be OK.
    I agree the medal is massive! I think the only one I have that is bigger is my Brighton half from when it was their 25th anniversary. Gotta love a big medal 🙂
    I don’t think I have ever not finished, but I have not started a few races due to being ill. We were talking at the weekend about races, and there aren’t many that I wouldn’t do again- the Great South run is one, and then Blenheim half was a bit of a nightmare as the starting gun went off as I was still parking my car, and it was a hilly course, and hot- I massively slowed at the end and was worried about not finishing because I was raising money for charity so didn’t want to let down all the sponsors.
    Maria @ runningcupcake recently posted…(Don’t) give me gin and tonic- Supersonic 10K recap!My Profile

    1. I think DNS’ing is far better than DNF’ing…though saying that, had I known what the marathon was going to be like I’d have still done it. I was absolutely fine beforehand so it baffles me that it suddenly happened. Though saying that, it did escalate and I was full aware of it happening and SHOULD have stopped. A tiny niggle at the beginning will most likely develop into a full blown injury 20 odd miles later!
      The Disney medals look the best! I definitely want one of those one day…
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…Rants and Raves #21My Profile

  9. Damn this was an emotional read! So amazing that you carried on (I think stubborn me would’ve done the same). Now you know that whatever happens you CAN finish! I always think that the tougher side of sport shows the true depth and strength of someone’s personality – from your courage to carry on and not quit to the supporters recognising that it’s not all about speed and glory, sometime’s it’s just making it through. Relates quite well to life I feel!
    Rest up well lovely! Xx
    Pip {Cherries & Chisme} recently posted…This Is My Whole LifeMy Profile

  10. Well done on getting through what sounded like a tough race, hope you get some rest now and the injury clears up. This sounds similar to my experience at Berlin last year, I had nearly deffered the entry due to itbs, but as it cleared up in the 2 weeks before the race I thought why not give it a go- unfortunately it flared up when I made a toilet stop at mile 18, and I ended up walking for quite a while, before deciding it was going to take far too long to walk 8 miles, and jog/hobbled to the finish. Despite that, I absolutely loved that race, and although it took me nearly 5 hours it was one of my proudest racing moments.
    Lauren (@PoweredbyPB) recently posted…Sole Softec Response FootbedsMy Profile

    1. Ahh I’m glad you managed to enjoy Berlin regardless as it’s such an epic race. IT bands suck. It just came out of no where – like I hadn’t even had any issues with that knee ALL year and BAM. But then if I had stopped when it first began to niggle it would probably have been fine…just 20 odd more miles can’t have done it any favours!!
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…Rants and Raves #21My Profile

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