Having set a pb 2 weeks ago at Abingdon of 3.37, I decided the target was to run both under 4hrs, that gives me enough of a drop off to get through 2 races without going so slow that I don’t suffer. (why would you want to suffer you may ask, well that’s what you have to learn to deal with running at your limits)
I decided to run the 1st one under 3.50. I had toyed with aiming for sub 3.45 in the 1st one but decided that’s too fast to be in any state to go sub 4 on the 2nd race.
Saturday, Thames Meander Marathon, this was a solo day, no support, no familiar faces to run with, just me, this would be a challenge which I wanted.
There were boat races taking place on the Thames so on the path we had to contend with boats, going in and out of the water, dog walkers, joggers & cyclists, it was quite busy, but that’s London I guess!
I felt strong until about 14 miles, then started to struggle for the next 6 miles, I had only run twice since Abingdon and this seemed to take its toll on my legs. When I hit 20 miles I knew this is the home straight and pulled myself together, It was hit and miss if I would make 3.50 and I decided to take a walk at 23 miles, after a little rest I then hit the gas for final 3, with some bursts of a sub 8 pace, I crossed the finish line in 3.49.29. Mission 1 completed.
As soon as I finished mission 1, mission 2 began, to be ready to race again the next day, so within an hour of finishing I had drunk 2litres of water, 2 pints of milk, eaten 2 bags of crisps and an egg sarnie. I rushed home, jumped straight in the shower fully dressed and washed my race kit to get it clean for stevenage. Then spent the afternoon with my lovely supportive family.
I had my pre race Pasta dinner again Saturday night, 2 cream cakes biscuits, bananas, and gallons of water & lucozade, got my kit ready and went to bed at 10. I slept poorly, my legs and hips ached just like they do post marathon. Oops !
Sunday came and Martin Gale was joining me today for the Stevenage marathon. It’s a half and a full at the same time, the full being 2 laps of the half. This is Martins 2nd marathon after his 1st at Abingdon 2 weeks ago. We agreed we would run together and I would pace him to a sub 4. I was happy with this because it meant I wouldn’t go too fast early and running with him would help take my mind off the fatigue.
Only one slight problem, we hadn’t looked at the course elevation and when we did, it was a hilly one with over 750ft climbing. We talked tactics and tried to ignore the elevation aiming for a steady 8.50-9min pace.
We arrived early and the post race masseurs were setting up shop, I snuck over and gingerly said, could I please have a rub down before the race, after explaining why, the chap said I was crazy, yes I said I have heard that recently.
As we were jogging to the race start, I slipped on a path and went over on my ankle, (enter expletive here) was what I shouted, as I grabbed a fence and let the pain settle down, it was ok, just sore, no damage done, We crossed the start line 4 mins late, thankfully the timing mat beeped so we knew we would have a chip time, not a race time.
At about 3 miles the heavens opened and chucked it down on us for 30 mins, you could see peoples pace slow as soon as the rain came, I pointed it out to martin as we weaved our way through the runners holding our pace steady.
By about 6 miles, I was really in trouble, I had no energy, my legs were heavy and not wanting to go any further, I was not much company for martin as I hardly said a word as I played the mental battle of shall I quit at the end of the 1st lap, shall I just do a half. Then I reminded myself, this is why I am here, why I am doing this, to feel like this and to beat it. I want to quit, well im not going to quit so shut up I would shout at myself in my head.
We crossed the half way point in 1.59, we were 1 minute ahead of schedule, I said to martin we are in trouble here, we are only a minute up and we will be slower on the 2nd lap & probably have to walk some of the hills 2nd time round. Martin said that’s ok, the course is not a sub 4 course in the conditions, I knew he was being positive for my sake.
We ran on and at about 15 miles we hit an aid station, martin ran through but I needed to walk, I took on 2 cups of water, I saw martin look back and slow, I waved him on, saying I will see you in a bit, I walked a bit then got going again, my hips really hurt now, I slowly catch martin up and as I reach him he says hes stopping for a pee and that I should keep going, I grunted ok at him (sorry mate)
I looked at my watch as I reached a rare flat and picked up the pace to between 7.50-8.30, this felt much more comfortable on my hips although by now It felt like I had lightening going off in my calves, it seemed going slower was hurting more than faster, so here on I would walk the occasional hill and run hard on the flats and downs, I worked out I needed to run 9min miles to get in at under 4, the miles ticked away with a lot of grimacing on my face and as I got to 25 miles I had 11 mins left to get in under 4, its only 11 mins I said to myself, go for it, so I gassed it in traditional sprint finish style, overtaking 5/6 people in the final mile, I crossed the line in 3.58. 12. Mission 3 accomplished !
It wasn’t long before martin turned the final corner and entered the straight with a massive smile on his face, I was so happy to see him smiling as we didn’t achieve what we set out to do and I felt I abandoned him, but being the true gent he said he was super happy, it was not a sub 4 course in those conditions having only just ran his 1st marathon 14 days ago.
We hobbled back to the bag drop and got another massage, the chap who did me before the race pointed at me and said something to the lady working on my quads, she said you did a marathon yesterday too ? yes I replied, she then said your crazy ! I looked at her and said, I’ve heard that a lot recently!