Find out how training is going for the third of our intrepid members who gained entry to the London Marathon via the club ballot. If you want to follow Richard on the day is race number is 22146.
I was delighted to be lucky enough to win a place through the club ballot. Having only completed my first ever half two and a half years ago I seem to have become addicted to marathon running and have completed 6 so far in the last 18 months, with varying degrees of success, finishing between a pb of 4 hrs 2 mins 45 seconds last year at North Dorset and a pw of 5 15 at Purbeck last October (although Purbeck is a brutal hilly, but fantastically enjoyable race).
My plan for this race was to follow a 4 hour plan, doing more longer runs at a consistent marathon pace than previously and to try to hit the sub 4 target on the day.
With 3 marathons completed last autumn (Purbeck, Bournemouth and Portsmouth Coastal) I started the plan with a certain amount of fitness already, so the early weeks were spent running 20 ish miles a week. The final 10 weeks of the plan dictated that I should have run 332 miles (not including the race) and completed five long runs of 13, 16, 17, 20 and 20 miles.
So how has it gone?
In summary fairly well. I have stayed injury free and have run 245 miles in the last 10 weeks, some 87 short of the plan, but more than I have ever run before. I have not hit the plan mileage because of a decision I made, due to tiredness and finding time to train, to run 4 times a week rather than 5 (omitting the Wednesday run from the plan). So I have run Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday most weeks and have adjusted my long runs to be longer than those in the plan.
I have found that, unlike during training for previous marathons when I have slowed considerably, my 5k time has been consistent throughout this period (regularly running 22 - 23 minutes), and I have achieved 5m pb of 36: 48 and a half marathon pb of 1 43 53 since the beginning of march.
My 5 long runs, 2 * 16m, 1 * 20m and 2 * 21m have gone well, with my final 21m completed at an average pace of 8 min 56 secs per mile. If I repeat this run on the day I would be looking at a finish time of approx 3 hrs 55 minutes
So I go into the race in good shape and thoroughly looking forward to running one of the best marathons in the world for our club. I hope, at the seventh attempt to finally complete the race in under 4 hours.
Here is the full details of Richard's plan.
My journey to one of the most memorable days of my life began on 11th July 2014 when I entered the Brighton Marathon... pretty much without too much thought as to what running a marathon involved (which is probably the only way I could convince myself to enter!)
I decided to run for a charity as I felt that would keep me motivated and then pretty much forgot about it for the rest of the year, apart from it being one of those annoying thoughts that sit at the back of your mind like wondering if you locked the front door when you're on the plane going on holiday!
My training started to kick in for the marathon in December and I carefully escalated my miles week on week as I really didn't want a repeat of my 6 week injury in the previous summer. I saved my longest runs (2 x 22 milers) for solo runs on hilly courses as I wanted these runs to not only be about the miles but to allow me to draw on them mentally when I hit the dreaded "WALL".
Speaking to numerous fellow Hedgies about marathon debuts, the common theme was the "WALL". I've walked into plenty of walls whilst drunk and it hurts so the last thing I wanted to do was hit one whilst running. I based my training and race plan around avoiding the wall, I wanted to finish strong and have that as my main memory of the day
On race day the weather was absolutely perfect! There was the usual mixture of nerves, muted excitement and long queues for the loos. I had had a terrible night's sleep thanks to my wingman, Mark Staples (the well known insomniac), snoring all night, but I was feeling confident in my race day plan, which was:
1. Enjoy it
2. Finish strong
3. Run a negative split
4. Run it in a sub 4 hour time
During mile one I realised one of my bottles had a hole in it and I was getting a steady trickle of High Five Zero down my leg. Bottle dumped I was a bit nervous about having half my water supply gone so quickly, but I was more worried about the slow pace for the first couple of miles due to congestion.
From mile three we were able to pick up our pace, and for the next 11 miles we slowly clawed back the time whilst drinking in the stunning scenery and the amazing supporters, especially fellow Hedgies whose support was incredible through-out the whole race (and after!). At the half way point we were 2 minutes over my goal pace, but I wasn't worried as I was feeling strong and I knew that we could slowly keep increasing our pace.
I lost my wingman at around mile 17, he told me to push on. I felt a bit guilty but I was feeling strong and I knew that a sub 4 hour time was still on, so I pushed on without too much drama for the next 6 miles, all the time increasing my pace bit by bit. Then I entered the "twilight zone" of mile 23...
I had never ran so far before, and I could feel my legs getting weaker and my head getting lighter. All I kept telling myself was "don't waste the effort of the last 23 miles" and "you've only got a park run to go". Luckily the crowds (who were absolutely amazing through-out) were so good for the last 3 miles that I felt like a racing superstar.
At mile 25 I started to feel a bit faint but a cup of water over my head solved that and then I was into the final mile. I wanted to soak up the atmosphere, the crowds roaring at the finish line and the glory of crossing the line strong but as soon as I saw the finish line in the distance it was all I could do to hold back the tears.
Crossing the line was an amazing feeling and I knew I had done it, the distance, the pace, the negative splits and the strong finish. It was the perfect race, and that's when the tears came.
A long run incorporating a cold and muddy cross country race in January seemed a distant memory in sunny Brighton for the 2015 marathon. Having run my first marathon here last year I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and after extolling the virtues of the course and support several other Hedgies were running too.
A 6am departure in the dark with my trusty support crew of husband Paul and running friends Carol and Ali we set off in the car and the chat was non-stop (I think this was their distraction tactic) we reached the park and ride and boarded the bus to Preston Park with other nervous runners. The park was a hive of activity with runners preparing in their own way, luggage lorries waiting to take personal possessions and the inevitable queue for the toilets!
We immediately spotted the red hoodies of fellow Hedgies and Ali used her megaphone (yes, a megaphone!) to attract their attention. There is nothing better than finding fellow Hedgies and knowing you are' safe' and with supportive people. After our own personal routines we wished each other good luck and made our way to our starting pens.
This marathon was daunting for me. Yes, I had previously run two but alongside other Hedgie runners. A fellow runner was due to run with me but made a wise (and difficult) decision to defer until next year. Yes, there would be thousands running with me but I would essentially be on my 'own' today so this would be a test of my own mental strength not the strength in my legs.
So, after glimpsing the speedy, elite Kenyans pass our starting pen we were off and the inspiring Jo Pavey was at the start to send us on our way. I knew I would see my support crew at mile 5 and they didn’t let me down - I quickly spotted the infamous red hoodies and HEARD them (cheering, maracas and a megaphone) - what more could I ask for.
I had a personal goal for a finish time so unusually for me I regularly checked my Garmin to keep to my required pace and as it was a warm day made use of the majority of water stations. As Brighton is a 'loopy' course I used this opportunity to Hedgie spot which doubled up as a distraction from the mileage. I spotted all my fellow club runners and mutual support was given either with a wave or cheer depending on our own energy levels!
My last sighting of Hedgie support was before I entered my 'dodgy' territory (18 onwards) and into the miles of self doubt. This isn’t helped by having to run towards the power station/industrial area where support becomes sparse and quiet. Consequently the sound of fellow runners hurting becomes more audible and the smiles you had at the start have disappeared.
It's at this time that I read what I had written on my arm "All the strength I need is within me" (thank you Louise Gretton), draw upon my stored happy thoughts, two parkruns left, this is running by the chapel and into Bluebell woods, fun Sunday runs etc. Don't listen to the groans, run past the walking injured, and try not to be affected by the runner being treated by St John's Ambulance.
Back on the sea front and thankfully there are crowds again. A quick glance at my Garmin made me refocus on my finishing time. Could I still reach my target? It's literally a case of putting one foot in front of the other and repeat, repeat, repeat. Yes it hurts but keep going. I can hear the voice of Stephen Kivlochan in my head "Push, push!"
I could see the big wheel in the distance and knew the finish line was within grasp and I could see my support crew again still smiling and cheering. I checked my Garmin again and knew I could achieve my target time if I picked my pace up. Come on you can do this and I DID. My target was 4:20 and I crossed the line in 4:20:57!
I collected my well earned medal and found my fellow Hedgies. Even though I only know them through running we gave each other congratulatory hugs and shared tears of joy and relief without embarrassment. We were bonded by a mutual struggle and knew what each other had been through, created memories and fought our own personal battles and that's what a MARATHON does.
Would I recommend you run a marathon? Yes. Would I recommend Brighton? Definitely!
Find out how training is going for the second of our intrepid members who gained entry to the London Marathon via the club ballot. If you want to follow Karen on the day her race number is 21857.
I still can’t believe how lucky I am to have one of the HERC places in the 2015 London Marathon, having failed twice in my attempts to be selected through the public ballot, I was astonished when I heard I had been successful in gaining one of the club places.
First of all my goals:
My priority is to finish the marathon and to remember to smile when I cross the finish line.
I’d like finish in around 4 hours and I know this is possible for me if I continue to stay in shape and fit during these last couple of weeks. But without putting too much pressure on myself, I’d like to simply finish the marathon and enjoy the experience. I’d also like to remember as much of it as possible, I am only able to recall very little of my first marathon experience at the North Dorset Villages Marathon last year after running with knee injuries.
How has my training progressed:
Being a full time working Mum of one I don’t have a typical training plan of running on set days, I have to grab the opportunity when I can. Fortunately, I have been able to train with colleagues from the club who are running London and other marathons so I am never short of companions on Sunday mornings. I go to the gym during the week and run 5k on a treadmill, as well as weight and core work, and I attend club training nights. I’ve also enjoyed becoming a Monday Maiden with Martyn and the other Maidens and recently discovered cycling.
Since January I have gradually increased the distance of Sunday morning runs culminating in 3 long runs of 18 miles and 2 x 20 miles (one being a very memorable day running to, taking part in and running home from the Eastleigh 10k). My speed work has suffered during this time, but I have learned that I cope better concentrating on one discipline, so endurance has been my priority. I am renowned for taking a picnic with me on my long runs and nutrition has always been something I have got right, so the picnic will come with me to London!
What am I looking forward to:
I can’t wait to experience the atmosphere that I’ve been told about and hear the support from the crowds. I am so excited about being part of something massive and having the opportunity to run passed many familiar landmarks. I’m proud that I will be wearing my HERC vest and I’m sure there will be the opportunity for a #runfie on the way round.
After the race I will re-acquaint myself with Sunday morning lie ins (for a couple of weeks anyway).
What are my expectations?
This is going to be a memorable experience for me and one that I intend to enjoy. As I mentioned before I’d like to finish in around 4 hours and run the whole distance. I expect that the atmosphere will carry me and hopefully I will meet many lovely people on the way round.
Find out how training is going for the first of our intrepid members who gained entry to the London Marathon via the club ballot. If you want to follow Pete on the day his race number is 21838.
What is a typical training week?
The plan I am following is a combination of the Runners World 3:15 plan and the 3:30 plan. The 3:15 plan is the main one I follow in terms of activities, distance, etc but where the times are somewhere between the two. For example if the 3:15 plan says to do 1 mile 'intervals' in 6 minute mile and the 3:30 plan says to do the same in 7 minute miles I tend to aim for a time half way i.e. 6:30 miles.
The plan is 16 weeks long and changes as you progress but a typical week is along the lines of:
Monday - Rest
Tuesday - Shorter interval type training: 200m/400m repeats, 1 or 2 mile blocks with a short recovery then repeat, etc.
Wednesday - A slower (8min/mile) run of 8 - 12 miles.
Thursday - A faster shorter run of 4 - 6 miles at 7 to 7:30 avg.
Friday - Rest
Saturday - Parkrun (Fast as you can)
Sunday - Longer, slower run of 18 - 22 miles at 8 avg.
All the details can be found here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/dc53c3bma79gzwr/Marathon%20Plan.xlsx?dl=0
How is your training going?
Aside from 1 weeks skiing early in February the plan has been followed to the letter with no injuries either. Following the plan forces you to mix up your training and (for me anyway) I find you get better results than going out and doing distance runs at the same pace all the time.
As well as building up my endurance, I have noticed that over shorter distances my times have come down - comparing the interval type training I did for Gosport last year I am quicker again - and my Parkrun times have also been coming down where I thought endurance training was meant to take the edge off your pace over shorter distances.
What are you most looking forward to about the race?
Getting to mile 25 as then you know you are nearly at the end :) Being able to have a beer as well having had no alcohol since the plan started in January.
Speaking to people who have run London before, the atmosphere is meant to be very different to a club event with supporters pretty much all the way round the course and a lot more noise. Plus the sheer number of people taking part.
What are you expectations?
Third time lucky after North Dorset (blowing up due to a massive hill at mile 21) and Portsmouth (last minute entry so not enough training).
The first goal is to get round without any walking along the way. So assuming I achieve that main aim is to complete the marathon in no more than 3h30 which is an 8 minute mile average across the whole distance. All the long runs I have been doing have been at this pace which is faster than the plan suggests but the theory is that if I am used to running distance at that pace then I can carry it through on the day.