Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. (George Santayana)
The weather forecast for Sunday May 16th was for temps around 13C and cloud cover, with the likelihood of rain showers. It was for this reason that I felt confident heat/wind would not be an issue.
On the other hand my sleep had not been great in the days leading up to this race and I had decided to enjoy my favorite meal of vegetable tikka masala on the evening before. In addition I had not fasted from caffeine as I had done last year. Looking back now this tells me something about how I was thinking. The FIRST training plan I have been following had a 13 mile run at marathon pace, 8.23 for me, in the plan. So it was a happy coincidence that this race fit in perfectly.
I had prepared my drinks before I left the house with 6 scoops of powder across the 4 8oz bottles. 2 of the bottles had 4 caffiene tablets in them. I took 4 Sportslegs 1 hour before the start, as I have done before all of my races, be they bike or running. I was wearing my original Asics Cumulus 6 shoes, my knee length compression socks, my Skins shorts and a racing singlet.
We started at 9.30 exactly. I had decided not to wear my mp3 player, a decision which I regretted later. I had also decided not to wear my white cap, which, in the end, was another error.
The first time I had run this race I had chatted to 2 people on the road which both served to keep my HR down and ease the pain. This time I was doing a 9.30-30 run walk. The race was a much more solitary experience because of it. I believe that I can run faster with the run walk but I’m not sure it was worth it.
My plan for the race was to try to keep to a 8 min pace for as long as possible. My hope was that I could bring it home in 1 hr 45mins. This would mean 8 min pace from start to finish.
As the race started everything was going to plan.
1st mile in 7.50 AHR was a bit high at 153 but I had my walk break to come.
2nd mile in 7.51 AHR was also high at 158 but my concentration was on the pace and not my HR. Another mistake – I will not do this for the marathon!
Miles 3 through 10 were perfectly on pace. The first 10 miles were completed in exactly 80 mins, a new record for me for this distance! My HR had breached the 160 level after just 5 miles though. Looking back now to last year’s race, I had completed the same 10 miles in a time of 1 hr 29 mins and 54 sec, so a PB for the race was definitely on the cards.
After having a problem, at the start of mile 11, with my watch I combined the resetting of it with a walk break. This one lasted just under a minute, longer than required but needed as I was feeling pretty tired. Mile 11 was completed in 9.12 including the walk-break. Mile 12 was completed in 8.45 including a 40 sec walk break. As I approached the hill during mile 13, I was finding it pretty hard to keep everything together. I started my favorite phase of the race – the rabbit chase! Looking up I saw the least fit / most tired looking runner in front of me and tried to push to catch them. Normally I feel like I am pressing the “NITRO” button which helps me find the last dregs of energy in my legs. This time there was nothing there. I tried again still nothing there. Now I was running down the other side of the hill. Still there was nothing, I was hanging on for dear life! As I cruised to the line I was passed by a runner who had been behind me for 5 miles. I had failed. That’s how it felt and that’s how it still feels.
Not a very positive run for me, lots of lessons to learn. Everything from needing to reduce the risk of suffering with the heat to considering some entertainment on the route.
On reflection I ran a PB for the distance of 1 hr 47 min and 48 sec. I broke my PB for the race by 8 mins and 30 sec. I easily ran the 8 min 23 sec pace that my marathon training plan asked for but I set a target and I failed to achieve it. Next time will be different…………………………..to be continued ;)
The Chester Marathon takes place on Monday 31st May 2010 in Chester, UK. Please pray for me on that day if you can as I will be running it for my Mum who died of Brest Cancer 8 years ago.