Marathons don’t accept excuses. There’s no shortcuts and no miracles, you get what you deserve. That’s the way I like it and that’s why I walk away from Nottingham without my sub-4 time and accept my 4.17, if not happily, then graciously. Because I know, on this occasion, it wasn’t on the cards because I didn’t put the hard work in.

4.17 is a PB of 14 mins, but it’s not all I’d hoped it would be. Yes, it was windy and yes, it was hillier than I’d planned for, but no excuses: my training just didn’t warrant a sub-4 this time. I should have accepted this sooner. Instead I went through the first (hilly) half in 2 hours which meant a lot of suffering in the second half.

Nottingham was a bitch and it punished me for every hill training session I’ve missed. You know the Penrose Steps? It’s the optical illusion of a never ending staircase. That’s what Nottingham was like. The start, half-way point and the finish were all at the same places so laws of geography should dictate that for every uphill there is an equivalent downhill. It didn’t seem that way to my legs.

Between miles 9 and 13 the most boring man in the world was running behind me. That sort of thing you can’t train or plan for. He was giving some poor guy a lecture about nutrition for a good few miles before discussing how much he’s earnt at various jobs he’s had and then going on (after we all had to step aside for an ambulance to get through) about how he’d seen a guy get defibrillated at London Marathon. Really dude, do you think any of us wanted that vision in our minds while running our legs off?

After 5,500 half-marathoners turned off for their finish, it was a lonely 1,400 that carried on for the rest of the course. And this was where it started to go a bit wrong for me. I made it to where my family waited excitedly at 17 miles before my speed took a nosedive.

17 miles in
The hills had destroyed my legs and they weren’t going to recover. After mile 17 I had to accept that sub-4 was not going to happen today. But once your goal has slipped away it’s difficult to keep on keeping on. Sub 4.10 was always the Plan B and something I’d have been happy with, but as I turned onto the rowing lake and hit the mile-long wind tunnel of doom, that too vanished into the distance.

My family were the stars of the day and officially the hardest working spectators on the course. They made it to miles 17, 20, 23 and the finish to cheer on me and any other runner going past all without using any banned substances. To be fair though I did give them a fighting chance by slowing considerably between these markers. Without them those wind tunnel miles would have been much harder.

It was a long slog back along the River Trent to the finish from here on with some of the hardest 5 miles I’ve ever run stretched out in front of me. But I made it to the end and took my medal and my PBs with honour.

Yes, that’s right – PB plural. The 14 minutes I knocked of my Brighton marathon time was only the second PB of the day. The first? Only one toilet/bush stop on the marathon. This is the second time that Nottingham has been exposed to my bare rear end in the past couple of months after my skirt blew up while I was drunk on a night out there (see ‘reasons why I didn’t go sub-4’).

PB number three is for the number of black toenails I now have – five trumps the three I got in Brighton. Now I hope pick up one last PBs from Nottingham. After Brighton marathon I was back in heels in five days. I’m hoping to knock a good half day off of that record this week. My toes feel differently about this.