Running another marathon just 2 weeks after Berlin was always going to be a leap into the unknown. I felt sluggish in the few days leading up to the event, but just resolved to see how things felt on the day – running can surprise you sometimes.
Entering into this was a bit of a random one – my mate Charlie (fresh off the back of an awesome half marathon PB!) dropped me a message ages ago saying she was taking part in the relay event, suggesting that I should get a team together. I do love a good marathon, so thought I’d just throw my hat in for the full 26.2.
It was a relatively small race, with the marathon + relay going off at 8am, before the 8 and 16 mile events started half an hour later. One thing I do love about the smaller events is being able to rock up to the start half an hour before, have a bit of a jog, before chucking your bag at someone and heading straight to the start. Minimal faff.
Armed with the now standard marathon headband (it’s become a bit of a naff tradition – I’m aware it’s not cool), I lined up in the second row, feeling nice and relaxed with the pressure well and truly off. The hooter went, and I led for all of about 10 seconds, before the proper runners came past.
The field spread out really quickly, but I ran part of the first lap with a couple of chaps, before easing away and settling into 6th (?) place. It was a 3 lap race, with a lovely little route along the river. However, there were multiple road crossing, and at one occasion I did actually have to stop completely and wait until the road was clear.
The first lap passed without incident, apart from pouring the odd cup of water over my head to try and stay cool – all the volunteers at the aid stations were awesome, offering out plenty of support. I was on my now usual no gels/food and minimal water apart from some small sips when thirsty, which seems to work for me so I’m sticking with it.
There was a great atmosphere in Kingston market square, where the start/finish was located, and I ran through with the now standard manic grin on my face. I’d decided to not worry too much about the pace of each mile, instead just ensuring my heart rate stayed below a pre-imposed cap that was a couple of beats lower than Berlin.
I hit halfway in 1.27 flat, knowing the hard work hadn’t really started yet. I broke the course down into mental chunks, resolving to get onto the last lap (which would mean 8 miles to go), before thinking about pressing on towards the finish. I spotted Charlie as I was coming through the finish area for the penultimate time, and she gave me a great cheer.
I hadn’t seen anyone in the marathon race for over an hour, but in the final lap I started passing some of those on the 2nd lap of their 16 mile race; it was nice to have some company and I tried to offer out some support and encouragement as I went by, which I almost always received back in return. It was pretty much perfect running conditions; the sun was out but it was pretty crisp, and at no point did I feel like I was overheating.
It began to hurt quite a lot with about 4 miles to go, and I was contemplating slowing down and cruising the rest of the way, when I saw 5th up ahead in the distance. This actually gave me a real boost as I started to reel him in, going past at about mile 24. I thought for a minute or two that we might run together, but he ended up dropping a bit further back and finishing about a minute behind.
A headwind that I hadn’t really noticed until this point seemed to appear and the last couple of miles were a right slog, but I was keen to post another decent sub-3 so settled into the hurt locker and embraced the pain. My last mile was my slowest, but once I got a sniff of the finish line I kicked for home, high-fiving Charlie on the way in.
It was a bit more of a low-key finish than 2 weeks ago, but at least this time I was able to stand after crossing the line, despite being pretty smoked. Finishing time was 2.53.06, a decent negative split (second half quicker than the first), and good enough for 4th place – turns out one of the guys that set off pretty quick ended up not finishing.
I spent the rest of the day eating and drinking a large amount while tracking friends also taking part in marathons around the world. Amy Young ran incredibly fast in Yorkshire, Michael Law battled through a number of injury issues to get his 4th marathon major finish in Chicago, and John Roberts posted a very impressive marathon debut time of 3.08 in Vancouver (in comparison, mine was 4 hours 30!).
A few people asked whether it was a good idea to do a couple of marathons in the space of 2 weeks, both pretty hard efforts. I was quite intrigued to see how my body would react to this, and I haven’t fallen to pieces yet. It probably wasn’t the most sensible thing to do; the problem I have is I just absolutely love it – I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday!
I’ve got a few smaller races in the coming weeks, including the first cross country race of the season next weekend, before Katie and I are swanning off the New Zealand and Australia for a bit of a holiday. I’ve resolved to improve my biking over the winter, so I’ll be hitting that pretty hard once back, as well as splashing about in the pool a couple of times a week.
I’ve already entered into two full iron-distance triathlons next summer; the Outlaw and Ironman Wales, so there’s no danger of me getting too complacent!