Well that was hard!
I went into the marathon with a very ambitious target time of 2.39. Very ambitious given my recent half marathon pb of 78.16 which the McMillan Calculator suggests my best marathon time would be 2.45.
My right calf has also been giving me grief for the last month – a strain which doesn’t seem to be going away. I was concerned this would flare up later on in the race.
Anyway, the target time was 2.39 and I set out to run an even paced race.
I bought 3 gels on the Friday to use during the race as I read there would be a gel station at the 30km mark where I’d be able to pick up another couple.
I wore my NB 110 trail shoes. Low profile and light, my favourite shoe and I’ll wear them on any surface. I was weighing in around 84kg’s and feeling a bit sluggish given my lack of running over the last week. I woke at 5am on the morning of the marathon, had yoghurt, museli, a banana and 2 sugar free powerades in the space of 3 minutes then went back to bed until 6.15. Can’t say I slept much as my stomach was on the verge of bursting but when I got up I was feeling good. A little water and a cup of tea then I caught the bus to the start.
The race started after a stirring speech from Deek and it took a few seconds for me to get across the starting mat. It then took a minute or two to work my way through the crowd of runners until I was running by myself. My garmin was playing up a little bit, beeping a couple of hundred metres before the official markers.
I settled into a decent rhythm and was ticking over nicely right on pace. Over the course of a few kilometres I made a concerted effort to catch up to a peloton of runners a few hundred metres ahead.
At 9km’s I had my first gel and then slung a bottle of water over my head. It was turning into a bit of a scorcher. Not a cloud in the sky. I was still on pace however and feeling ok.
The 5km splits for the first 10km were 18.57 then 18.56. Excellent, feeling confident.
I stayed patient and remained in this peloton for a few km’s before deciding to push on to catch up with another group about 100metres ahead. The 5km split at the 15km mark was 18.32.
I had my second gel at the 19km mark along with a bottle of water. Again, most of this was poured over my body which was becoming increasingly hotter. The next 5km split was slightly slower but still ok at 18.51.
It was then through the half marathon mark in 1.19.27 – absolutely bang on target. Given this was just slightly over a minute off my half pb I knew the next 21.1km’s were going to be a real challenge.
My calf, whilst being uncomfortable throughout the whole run was still allowing me to move at a decent pace. I just had to hang on for dear life.
I’d moved from 72nd at the 5km to 52nd at the half way point.
My new mini goal now was to maintain pace and run strongly through the 26km point as this is where Phill would be taking photos. However, I was beginning to tire and it was the usual battle of the negative voices in my head telling me to stop and have a break. My louder positive voice was having none of it though.
I decided to take on board my final gel at the 25km mark to give me a boost and then pick up some more at the 30km mark.
The 26km point came and went. Phill managed this photo above. She also commented after the race that I was looking a little tired. Too right I did, there was a raging battle going on in my body.
My pace was unfortunately slowing. 20km – 25km was 19.06 and 25km – 30km was 19.18.
I had latched onto a 2 Japanese runners, a guy and girl and stuck with them for as long as I could. My body now was crying out for a walk break, runners all around me were dropping off and I summoned every ounce of mental energy I had to push those voices to the back of my head and keep moving. I knew that if I stopped for a walk my legs would struggle to get moving again.
I was a little concerned when I didn’t come across any gels at 30km so I figured they must be at the next aid station.
30km to 35km split was even slower at 19.40 but I wasn’t giving up. I was raging a battle inside but still moving past runners who had given up the fight. At this stage I hadn’t had a gel in 9km. I also came to terms with the fact that I must have missed the gel station and I wouldnt have one until the end of the race. So be it. I thought back to all the training runs I’ve done without and food and this gave me confidence. The water stations were frequent though and i poured water over myself at every opportunity. Not only was it hot but it was humid. The Englishman was struggling.
The next 5km from 35 to 40 seemed to go on forever. I was still keeping pace with the Japanese male but the girl and made a move. I couldn’t respond. This split was 19.43.
I knew half an hour prior that 2.39 was out of reach but I wanted to leave everything out on the course. My legs just could not move any quicker. Every time I tried to pick up the pace my calf screamed and my hamstrings threatened to cramp. The Japanese dude snuck ahead as did a couple of others.
Slowly but surely the finishing tunnel came into sight and then it was a sprint to sneak in under 2.42. I’d never been so pleased to finish a race!
Below are the 5km splits and my position in the race. I was surprised to learn that I had continued to move ahead of other runners even as my pace fell away.
5km) 18.57 – 77nd
10km) 18.56 – 66th
15km) 18.32 – 56th
20km) 18.51 – 49th
25km) 19.06 – 49th
30km) 19.18 – 39th
35km) 19.40 – 33rd
40km) 19.43 – 27th
2.2km) 8.37 – 31st
1st half – 1.19.27
2nd half – 1.22.18
Finish – 2.41.46
I couldnt haven been happier with the effort I put in. I really stretched myself and didn’t blow up spectacularly even though I didn’t take on any gels during the final 16km.
To realistically hit my main goal of sub 2.40 I need to take my training a little more seriously.
70km a week probably isn’t enough – a more suitable number would be around the 85km mark with more emphasis on marathon paced efforts.
I won’t plan on another attempt until next year. Bored to death of road running and I can’t wait to get back to running on the trails. However, when I begin my training next year I’ll be training as though I’m planning to crack 2.35 which will hopefully see me dip under 2.40 easily. I’ll need to get my half marathon pb down to 1.16 too.