So it’s done and the result is better than I ever expected – perhaps there is a runner inside me after all. Whilst my specific training was not very long, I believe my strategy was pretty spot on. Prioritise distance and try to maintain some speed would be a good sound bite for the approach.
I tapered well and was feeling very fresh on marathon morning. I wrote a blog entry the night before with my predictions. I firmly believed that 3:07 was the most likely outcome. Even with this prediction in mind, I didn’t actually have a plan for race day outside of: let’s see how much I am able to suffer today.
I made my way up to the front of the first start group and decided to just run. The gun went off and I did just that. I ran by feel and hardly looked at my watch at all. After two miles of effortless running I glanced at my watch and saw that I was hitting 6:30/mile – suicide pace for sure. I decided that I’d just keep running and see what happens. I hit two bad patches during the first 10km where I didn’t feel smooth. I had to force my running and the paced backed off somewhat during these two periods and the tone for the day was set: feelings of fluid natural running interrupted by some unusual awkward and sluggish patches. I passed the half way point at 1:31:00 with bitter sweet feelings. Firstly, I was way ahead of plan but so close to sub-3 pace that I could taste it. I then adjusted my plan to just hold pace until 14km to go and then give it all I have; this is 4km sooner than I would usually decide to kick.
The 14km to go point came and I started to execute my new plan. I had just under an hour to try to make the sub-3 a reality. My quads started to hurt very soon after my kick began. Pain management became an exercise in denial: “my legs aren’t sore, they are nice and warm” became my phrase of denial for about five or six kilometres. With 5km to go all such mind games were futile – I simply started to estimate the amount of minutes remaining and dismiss them as being ‘no time at all’. Three kilometres to go was the point at which I nearly gave up… the rational argument in my mind almost beat the urge to drive myself forward. Thankfully I relented and pushed through to the finish in the most pain I have ever experienced in a race to date. I glanced at the clock to see a time of 3:00:50. For some it would be a disappointment – so close to the sub-3! For me it was a great achievement – having gone so deep into the red for so long was what the day came to mean to me. It’s now two days later and I’m still proud of what I did; In this case, the effort was more important than the result.
Now to see what I can do with 26 weeks prep.