Malta Marathon

Malta Marathon 2012 – 4:08:11, 6/10 in age group, 22/50-something women
Lovely to be out in the sunshine again. 
I was really sad to hear of the death of one of the organisers, John Walsh, in September last year. I remember hearing him at the start of the previous two Malta Marathons I ran (his accent stood out as he was Scottish). This year’s medal was the last he designed and so when my foot started hurting (for no obvious reasons) a few days beforehand, I was quite upset at the thought of going home without it. Not to mention the fact that for once I had been properly training over the winter! 
Luckily I have no running career to risk, so I just crossed my fingers and started the race anyway, and luckily the foot eased off within the first mile. Phew.
The Malta marathon course is net downhill, so I was going to run to heart rate rather than try to keep a fixed pace – a decision which turned out to be really helpful as the day was a bit blowy so as well as the up and down hills, we were (due to the course loops) running into the wind or having it at our backs. 
Though there was one time when I realised that I had acquired a posse of three Austrians lurking behind me (the cheek! I am not that wide!) and promptly skittered behind them to get my share of shelter from the headwind 🙂
I’d been very careful about steering clear of pasta, bread etc on Saturday and it more or less paid off – no tummy cramps, though I did have to pop behind a wall at mile 12 (that was a late-night banana I think). Unlike the poor Kenyan lad in our hotel who apparently had to drop out with (hem hem) “stomach injury”.
Unlike previous years I was not dawdling along at the back and possibly this was why there seemed to be actual support en route, and why the bands were still playing when I ran passed them! Most were brass bands but the electric guitar-based band did really well because they, of course, didn’t run out of puff! Also the aid stations still had supplies when I got to them! Water was in bottles – quite big ones, enough to wash down a gel and wet head & legs – and there were also sponge stations, a couple of sport drink stations (in tiny bottles, the colours were eyescraping but the drink went down well enough), and a fruit station.
At about mile 18-20, somewhere round that point, the marathon and half marathon courses join up again (the half marathon course is almost ALL downhill). This was something I was looking forward to, for two reasons:
1) it would mean a good long downhill stretch
2) I would soon get to see my other half, who was running the HM
I looked at my watch and worked out that I should catch up with him in a couple of miles, and was more or less on the money. We ran together for ten minutes or so and then he said (not being a man that likes downhills) he didn’t want to keep up the current pace and that he’d see me at the end.
There were a couple of flyovers and then a short uphill haul, which I didn’t mind because, having done it before, I knew it was followed by a whizztastic downhill and then it would be flat all the way until the end. Which was true.
As we ran round the bay, one band had set up a little tent which you ran *through* with the band on either side, which was a nice touch.
By this time I knew that as long as I stayed under ten minute miling I was good for my target of sub 4:10, so I was just trundling along and enjoying the last few km. There was a bit of shameless showboating at the end (see pic) and then that medal was safely in my clutches.

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Did I say the marathon was mainly downhill? Well, I have only TODAY been able to sit down on a chair and get up from it without having to hold myself up with my hands! No regrets though – a lovely event to start the year with.