Marathon | Eclectic Cake: Marathon

Tuesday, 11 August 2015


I’ve been told by many a marathon runner, when you hit 20-miles, something happens. The wheels fall off, you hit the wall and the rest is a mental battle. So when I saw 21-miles written on my ultra marathon plan, I approached this unknown distance with caution. 

At least I’d planned to. Instead, I woke up late on one of the hottest days of the year, after fuelling on wedding cake and gin. I'd spent the previous day celebrating and dancing in heels and went to bed at 2am. Let’s just say I wasn’t quite feeling my best the morning after the night before. But I've been desperately trying to stick to my plan, so after force-feeding myself breakfast and downing electrolytes, I stumbled outside, immediately vowing to not drink a drop of alcohol until I’ve crossed the finish line of my ultra.

I staggered around my usual 5km loop, keeping the public toilets in sight in case my breakfast made a reappearance. As soon as I felt settled, and when I couldn’t stand the boredom of the same trail over and over anymore, I headed to get lost in the local woods with a plan to trick my legs into covering the distance by running one mile, then four lots of five but that proved difficult.

Only four miles in, I was already struggling. I didn't even expect to reach ten.

Surprised at reaching eight miles, I lost concentration and rolled my ankle.

At eleven miles, I got completely lost and had to crawl through a bush.

I was given reason to regret the high dose of pre-run caffeine at twelve miles.

After 16-miles, I forgot how to count and was convinced I only had three miles left.

At 17-miles, I realised I still had more than three miles left.

A glance at my watch told me I had run the fastest 18-miles of my life.

19-miles celebrated the furthest I'd ever run in one go.

I watched the distance climb with caution as the number reached the big two-oh...

And then boom! Everyone had been right, something really did happen at 20-miles – I decided to run 6.2 more.

I'd been half-arsed at chasing marathon distance all year. After booking an ultra, I wanted to get 26.2 miles under my belt for peace of mind before I attempted 35. I'd eyeballed many races but injury, life, work and fear had all got in the way and I'd failed to commit. But right in the middle of the woods, with no one around and without anyone knowing, I decided to run one there and then.

I suddenly felt a surge of energy. Excitement at the thought of taking on this extended challenge. I left the woods and headed through the town, gleeful that onlookers might still think I was just out for another run when in fact I was on a secret mission. The remaining miles peeled off with ease – except a suspected exploded toe, which turned out to be a minute blister pop.

My worried husband sent a message to check I was still alive – I was an hour late. I revealed I'd run 25-miles and that I was just over a mile away. He immediately knew what I was up to. And as I finally appeared at the end of our road, a big smile spread across my face.

I'd finished my first marathon. There was no medal, no official time, no bib number and no crowds, just a big hug to welcome me home. It was perfect!


  1. Ahhh Jen this is AWESOME!! You're making me wanna sign up for another one but I said I'd have a break and do other stuff for a bit...

    1. Thanks, Tess! It's all about the guerrilla marathon, no need to sign up!

  2. Well done you! Love that it was just a rambling adventure time :)

    1. Thank you! Despite the bad start it was a brilliant experience.

  3. I LOVE this. Well done Jen!

  4. I just found your blog and I LOVED this post! It reminded me of the first time I ran the half-marathon distance in my marathon training. I had already run a few half-marathons but they were all official. It's such a cool feeling to run an "official" race distance on your own. I totally know what you mean by "if only they knew how far I had run! They must just think I'm out for a jog!"
    Also, these moments of energy that lead to amazing runs often happen when you least expect it (aka hungover or exhausted or both!)
    I look forward to reading your blog! :)

    1. That's so kind of you to say, I'm pleased you enjoyed it. You always feel like a bit of a hero but it's also amazing to look back and see how far you've come as a runner to be running those distances in training!