My DNF (not what I do)


Ok, here goes…

My first marathon attempt … PAH…

I signed up almost by mistake – I was in Suilven with friends on an adventure and they were trying to get onto the white star running website to get Giants Head marathon places – as was the whole world and his wife it seems.

Sally was meant to be trying to get us places on other races (they’re all released at the same time and it’s mayhem to be fair) Anyhoo… Sally got really cross and gave up & I half-heartedly tried but it was too busy and the website kept crashing. I went to bed thinking we’d missed out on the Imperial Series & Casterbridge half, which was what we were aiming for. I couldn’t sleep straight away so had another go & there they all were glistening…beckoning…smiling… including the rarer that hen’s teeth GHM places…

I sort of slipped and entered both of us (working on the principle that I could always sell them on if we didn’t decide to do it)

Sally was a bit less than happy that her first marathon was going to be Giants Head which is a tough little b****r

So, my relationship with running has not really improved this year – I entered quite a few events …it was make or break & I decided I’d give it a shot…. I’ve been hoping for that epiphany that you get where you just love running and you get to a happy place.. I’m told it exists…. It doesn’t with me…


The imperial series was diabolical – you’d think 3x 10 mile events within about a month of each other would improve your running and times etc… but I just got slower on each one. I finished and got my bling, but it didn’t make me excited – just glad to get it out of the way if I’m honest

I hoped my mojo would appear again & in the meantime I carried on running. I didn’t do enough for Casterbridge half really & the weather was sooo hot – I lost 10 minutes in the first 5 miles, never managing to claw it back. I learnt a very valuable lesson, however about how to manage the heat & keep a lid on overheating. I finished the race, running (unusual for me to be fair) and I actually wasn’t wrecked and this was really, really important to me. I’m not in love with running (did I mention that…somewhere?) so finishing feeling great was a huge plus.

I kind of buried my head in the sand with regards to training & had a run of cluster migraines which really take it out of me.

I had conversations with Sal (I’ll start & see how I get on…. it will be what it’s going to be now) and my brother Will (who just told me to mtfu – harsh, but fair I guess)

I was never going to not start – I had to give it a go. Turns out I picked the toughest marathon in brutal conditions – the perfect storm…

All the FB chatter about willies had started – our running club fancy dress costume picked (Where’s Wanda – typical – the only costume I didn’t have to purchase & I was too nervous about the whole thing to be bothered)


Where’s Wanda – Marathoners and 10k ers

I ate properly in the week leading up to ‘the day’ and did a fair amount of walking – migraines permitting.

I was not a happy bunny when it came to it – so nervous – I was worried about the strict 7:37 cut-off & knew it would be borderline for me.

We set off & after a gentle jog down the road you get your first (of 8) hill. My plan was to walk up the hills, run down them and walk/run the flat

As you can see from the profile – there’s not a lot of flat 😉

race profile

I’d been trying to stay positive – “only 8 ups and 8 downs…. It’ll be fine” sort of thing – but then I scared myself when I realised it’s the same distance from my office to Lyme Regis & that’s a long drive….

It was great & very unexpected to see Dave at the top of hill 3…and we carried on heading for the decent into Cerne Abbas – we had a fantastic view of the hmmm “giant” and popped out onto the road to find Dave, Mark & Tracy…lots of hugs & we set off.


Did you know that in its heyday Cerne Abbas was a very important destination because of the Abbey? They even had their own brewery to supply the 14 pubs which existed to accommodate all the pilgrims who visited – hard to imagine looking at the village now.

The giant is a later addition – thought to represent Hercules


I was happy (ish) plodding on but I was also very aware the Sally and Tash we having to stop and wait a lot. I did tell them to go, but they toughed it out until the halfway point at Minterne Magna. The heat was really getting to me – I was keeping the buff on my neck wet and kept turning it to keep cool. I sat down in the shade & wondered what the f*** I was doing.

We set off again after a jam sandwich & got halfway up the 4th hill when the cry went up from Sal “s*** there’s the sweeper”

I had barely finished saying – “that’s alright, you go o…n…” & they’d gone – I very quickly lost sight of them and I carried on trudging up the hill… it went on a bit.

I got to the top & saw my mate Rob (who does the first aid cover) & told him I wanted to finish – I’d been out for nearly 4 hours & had barely got half way – and the sweeper was behind me (but not in sight) He advised that I go to the next drinks stop and see how I felt then… it was the longest 3k I’ve done…I was hot, tired and a little bit scared. I’ve had heat stroke before & I was so worried I’d get it again. A quick calculation & I realised it was the hottest part of the day & we were on a quite exposed part of the course… I managed to run down the hill – thinking (hoping the drinks would be in the dip) only to be faced with…..

Ta da da….yes you’ve guessed it….

Hill Number 5

It broke me I could have cried (nearly did)

I gave myself I serious talking to & decided to call it quits … definitely – it’s not for me – generally I can rise to a challenge, but this wasn’t fun …at all……or challenging….or anything nice.

There were 5 other people waiting for a ride back to HQ, so I didn’t have to do the walk of shame alone. It was a very quiet car journey back.

I got out at the village green and I was so glad to see some friendly faces (the 10K Wandas) :–) I cried because I’d let myself down, but they were all brilliant. So I took myself off to re-hydrate & change & arrived back in time to see the marathon Wandas coming in.

I hung around for Sally & Tash … I don’t know who was more relieved – them or me… me the see them still running or them seeing that I wasn’t 😛


I knew Sally would finish – she’s strong & I knew she’d get Tash round

Whilst I was changing I pulled myself together & decided to let it go.

I’m done – and it’s like this huge weight has gone.

I hate running – I’ve always hated it (if I’m honest)

I love running with Sally when we have a natter & marvel at the beauty of where we live and just pootle… I can do that & I hope we can continue…

I got the medal (the willy is pink…and it spins) because the 10K & the marathon were getting the same & I figured I’d done 25.5k so I’d earned it. I ran farther that I’ve ever run & I have no plans to do a marathon. I was out for 4 hours 20 mins …and did 837 meters of climb.

But, me….?

I’m getting on my bike again – I’ve missed it


Cathy Warne is available for social coffee and cake rides whilst she get her cycle legs back – she can’t wait 😀 😀 😀



3 thoughts on “My DNF (not what I do)

  1. I don’t think you have let yourself down Cathy and you haven’t let anyone else down. That was a tough day definitely the hardest I have done. I got 23 miles and thought I was getting heat stroke so you weren’t alone.
    As you say though do what makes you happy! Glad you got the medal you really deserved it xxx

  2. Confronting your nerves and starting a very difficult marathon on a very hot day makes you a winner in my opinion. Having the good sense to stop when you knew that you were struggling and in danger of heat stroke is not failure. Waiting on the finish line to make sure all of your friends and club mates finished safely says more about your character than any medal (even one with a pink willy). Well done Cathy!

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