So I had this idea at the start of the year. I'm going to get 6 pbs in the main distances. 5k, 10k, half marathon, marathon, 50 miles and 100 miles. It was ambitious. Too ambitious. It was clear half way through the year that I was not going to get time to do justice to a 50 miler or a 100. So I decided to give the distances up to a marathon a good go instead.
I struggled to think of the last time I deliberately trained for a marathon. It must have been the Prague marathon which was a few months after my first ultra. That was 10 YEARS AGO. My marathon PB actually came out of nowhere while I was in pretty good shape from running marathons most weeks as part of ultra training. 3.07.55 at the Shakespeare Marathon in 2007. TEN YEARS! Blimey.
So the plan was to do this like the good ol' days. Before I used to run further. I would run fast sometimes, do those slowey/fastey/slowey/fastey runs and the classic 20 mile long runs. It was going to be amazing, I was going to lose lots of weight, get the 5k and 10k pb along the way and then break through 3 hours in the marathon.
Well, I left it a bit late but I did break my 5k pb just 8 days before the marathon (from 18.57 to 18.49) and 2 days before that broke my 10k pb (39.27 to 38.40 albiet in a "training" run so probably doesn't "count". I'm counting it anyway as there are bugger all 10k races around)
In this respect I felt pretty good about the marathon, 3 out of the 4 pbs down, one to go. I wanted to do under three hours though, cos that's a thing isn't it?
I planned on following roughly this pacing schedule. I don't believe a negative split or even pacing is realistic in a marathon. This felt right, 1.27 half way and then 1.33 for the next half. So running about 6.40 per mile for the first 13.
It felt nice to be back on a marathon startline. Off we went, legging it down a long hill at the start passing many an icon of my youth. The underage drinking pubs on London road and then all the cheap shoe shops.
I felt early on that 3 hours wasn't going to happen. It felt hard doing 6.40 after just 7 of them. The slowdown started well before half way. I don't regret the strategy or the training. I just needed to do more of it.
I wanted to do 2 decent speed/tempo sessions of running per week and then a bit of jogging around the sides. I got ill a few times and found it hard to do these types of run a 5am or after dinner. I'm not complaining, I need to think more about fitting it around having twins.
I got to half way in 1.28.30, so behind what I wanted and now slowing more than I wanted. I hoped a PB might still be on. If not that then at least a Leicester PB of about 3.15. The first half of the race should have been easier anyway as it is net downhill and with the wind in your back. I like the Leicester course though it is a tough one. Lots of twists and kerb jumps.
I had forgotten how hard it is to race a marathon. Jogging them is easy, trying to push it all the time is draining.
Nothing went wrong as such, I did everything as well as I could but really it was just a product of my training. I didn't do enough. I could have fit more in if I didn't get bugs or I could have taken another 3 months of doing the same stuff and got there. All of the usual marathon mistakes were not made. I didn't bonk on energy, no stomach issues, the weather was good, I had no injuries, I had comfortable new fast shoes, nipples maintained integrity. Nothing to complain about really.
The original plan for the next year, get sub 3 hour marathon, use fitness to try to run sub 8 100k to qualify for Spartathlon and then work my arse off to get to that statue in a year. Now it's changed. I am no way for enough to get that 100k time so am not going to attempt it. Instead I will take a virginal approach to ultras, try a 50 and then a 100, try to get good times. I've just rejoined the Bedford Harriers and am looking forward to their cross country season as well as the club championship ultra in July, 36 miles of the Greensands Ridge. The only ultra I know of in Bedfordshire.
But overall I am in a better place. I'm glad I took the time to train for a marathon, I didn't want to get back into ultras until I had given one a go and got a bit of speed back. I didn't want to return to ultra-plodding, I won't have huge opportunities to race anymore so want to be able to do it well when I can.
Oct-Jan - Three Counties Cross Country
Dec - Bedford Half Marathon (another PB maybe)
Apr - Salcey Forest 6 hour race (on a TUESDAY!)
July - Greensands Ridge 36 miles club championships
First half of year - a 50 miler, aiming to go somewhere near 7 hours
Second half of year - a 100 miler. Somewhere near 16