So here we go again, marathon number 6 and on the 12 month anniversary of my first marathon in Paris, you can read how that one went HERE. The goal back then was to just finish the race and hopefully score a sub 4, this time around I was hoping to run sub 3:30, but also time goals aside, I wanted to run a more comfortable race and do a full race test out a different fuelling strategy I have been using during the past 22 weeks of training. After less than impressive runs in BERLIN MARATHON and NEW YORK CITY MARATHON I was keen to see whether this new fuelling would put me in a better place in the later stages of the marathon. It had gone well in training.
As usual, I got my kit out the evening before, note the b&w photo. This is after some tosser copied my race number in New York and ran the race as me! As well as sorting out my kit, I always prepare breakfast, load up the satnav with directions to East Didsbury Metrolink and get my post race recovery bag sorted, this consists of protein powder and water to give the muscles that initial recovery hit they need as well as some warm dry clothes to change into.
My day started at 5:45am for breakfast and the drive to East Didsbury. I opted for the park & ride which got me into Trafford Bar, from there its just a 10 minute walk to the athletes village. Still makes me laugh that they class me as an athlete, but I guess if you run, you’re a runner right. After dropping my bag I went over to the start line and met up with one of my best Instagram buddies @Jogonjon it was great to have a chat in person and wish each other luck.
The start was a little chilly and I had opted for short sleeves for this race, something I was regretting whilst waiting for the start, but soon warmed up once we got going and the sun burnt its way through.
Mile 1 – 6: 7:17, 7:27, 7:23, 7:28, 7:28 & 7:34
The race started and I was lined up with the 3:29 pacer, which ultimately I would have been happy to run 3:29 and beat my sub 3:30 goal, but I had a 7:35 pace in mind which would have brought me home in around 3:18. As ever, I went off too fast, almost 20 seconds under my target pace for the first mile. I did manage to pull the pace back somewhat over the next four miles before hitting target on mile 6. It was tough though, the course was very flat and I wanted to get out ahead of the pacers so that I could have my own space to run in, looking back now, I probably had that space from mile 2 onwards, but it was hard to slow down when those around you are going at your pace or faster. It did feel like everyone was coming past me, even at the 7:30 pace and that is from starting in the 3:30 pen. I got the feeling that a lot of people were going out fast and may pay for that later on.
Mile 7 – 13: 7:32, 7:28, 7:33, 7:32, 7:29, 7:29 & 7:31
The next six miles were much of the same, battling with myself to hold back the pace, my body was trying to break the two hour marathon but my mind was holding it back to roughly 7:30 pace. The course was still really flat apart from a few bumps in Timperley and Altrincham, but lets face it, the biggest hill was 40ft which is nothing.
I was taking an SIS Go Energy Gel, tropical flavor this time, every 5 miles and planned to eat some or maybe all of my Clif Bar at the half way stage, just to get some solid food inside me. This didn’t quite go to plan as I threw more than half of the Clif Bar across the road when trying to open it. There will be some beef’d up birds around Altrincham after that protein boost.
Mile 14 – 21: 7:33, 7:43, 7:47, 8:47, 8:11, 9:27, 8:17 & 9:19
Mile 14 was just under target pace again, but then I started to get a stitch in mile 15. I decided I would slow down to 7:45 pace and concentrate on my breathing. This worked well and that stitch cleared up over the next couple of miles. Then towards the end of mile 16 was my next incident, I was in the process of swapping a gel from my race belt to the pocket and ended up dropping all my gels on the floor, with 10 miles still to go I thought it best to stop and pick these up and carry on. It took me a little while to get back into my stride, if you have ever stopped after running or riding a good distance and tried to start running again you will know the legs feel very alien for that first minute.
Then came the big issue of this marathon, 18.4 miles in I had to stop and walk for a little while. My right knee did not feel right and was hurting a lot. I was arguing with myself for a quarter of a mile before this, trying to convinced myself that its just tired muscles, we are 18 miles into a marathon, things are bound to hurt, but I thought back to two weeks ago where I tripped up during training and knocked this knee, I had the same pain for a week after that which kept me out of running. So, with the London Marathon two weeks away, I decided it just wasn’t worth the risk of injuring myself and missing that race, even if it meant missing out on a sub 3:30 or a PB. So I stopped and walked and came up with a run / walk plan to get me across the finish line. I will run 1 mile at 8:30 pace and walk 0.2 mile to put less pressure on the knee.
Mile 22 – 26.2: 10:13, 9:45, 9:42, 9:49, 9:12 & 8:00
Continuing on with the run / walk plan, the knee didn’t feel like it was getting any worse which was pleasing. By mile 24 the 3:29 pacer came past me which was SOOOO frustrating, even with run walking for the past 6 miles, he had only just caught up, this made me wonder if I could speed up and beat the 3:30 pacer, but I thought better of it. Bigger things and bigger goals to come in two weeks time. Not long after that the 3:30 pacer went by. At this stage, I was starting to feel cold, with running hard for 18 miles I was hot and sweaty but now with going slow I was wet and feeling the cold. At 25 miles we turned on to Chester Road, just one mile to go and the crowds at this stage were huge and gave us such a lift, especially after spending the last 5 miles out in the countryside hating on my right knee. I thought to myself now, I can’t stop and walk in front of all these people, they will think I am failure, I was due my 0.2 mile walk now, not letting my ego get in the way I did stop and walk, but only 0.1 mile and then ran on, turning onto Talbot Road, I could see the finish line, I looked at my watch and saw 25.6 miles, almost there, keep running. My legs felt like I was dragging a concrete block along, after 2 mins I turned to the guy next to me and said “Is it just me, or is this finish line not getting any closer”, he laughed and said he was thinking the same. Then over I went, another 26.2 miles ran and in a PB time of 3:35.11!
I am not really sure how to sum up or to feel after this one. I beat my PB by just shy of 4 minutes despite run walking for the last 8 miles. That does make me wonder just how much that little trip on one of my last weeks of training cost me in the end. One small trip and a knock on the knee. Either way, I ran my fastest ever marathon. My fuelling felt good throughout, although I didn’t push it for those last 8 miles so I still haven’t fully tested it out.
So that is the last long run done before the London Marathon in two weeks time. Tapering starts tomorrow for that one lol. There are some positives to take into London from today. I can run fast, my fuelling works and I have a new PB. Question is, can I run 7 minutes faster wearing a Love Heart costume on a busier course?