Only a few months ago I was a member in a monthly run challenge on Buckeyeoutdoors. It included several runners who have many years of experience, and I as a novice was very much a listener rather than a talker. I’m not sure who mentioned it first but the subject of a “Birthday Run” was raised.
A Birthday Run is a run where the individual runs the same number of miles/km as their age, on or about their birthday! For this reason I decided to run 45km (28miles) on or near 15th July.
I am in the middle of a marathon training schedule so I didn’t want to cause myself any injury or unduely hinder my training by doing the run. So, for this reason I decided to do the run on the easiest terrain I have available locally. The Llandudno Promenade is where I do most of my interval training as it is flat and only suffers with a strong seaward camber. As it is very open it often suffers with the strong easterly winds we have in this area. My main concern was to avoid injury but if I could run a PB on the way then all the better!
During the previous days I had been checking the weather forecast. The forecast had gone from full sun – 20-25C to 15-20C with showers. In the event the day was more the former than the later.
After dropping my kids off at school I parked the car just by the prom and loaded up my sports drink. I had planned to take just 2 bottles at a time – which should have done me for 3 laps (7.6 miles). I had already prepared a single bottle loaded with 300mg of caffeine which I planned to take on the next section after the 2hr mark. Then off I went! My plan, to keep my HR below 130 for the first 2hrs then move it up to 130-140 for the next 2 hours, was going pretty well to plan. I needed to average just over 9 min miles in order to break the 4hr marathon distance. My first 13 miles were completed in exactly 2hrs. This was a little outside the target but I had kept my average heart rate down to 127 for the whole 13 miles. I was happy to try to push the pace a little now as I knew I just had 2hrs to go and I was on course for a good new PB. As I pushed on my speed increased from 9.15 pace to 8.45 pace. My HR jumped from 127bpm to 137bpm. It was around this time that I spotted my friend, a local runner who is much quicker than me, but whom I had come within 50 seconds of catching in a race earlier this year – see Nick Beer 10km 2011. As he approached he slowed and turned to run with me. We ran on and chatted for about 5 miles, which saw my pace solidly under 9 min pace and my HR rising towards 147bpm. As he left me to complete the run I had been running for 3hrs and I had completed 20.7 miles. I had just 5.5 miles to go and 60mins to complete the sub 4hr marathon. My Garmin shows how the harder I pushed I only managed to maintain my 9 min pace. My HR was rising and I was very tired. On top of this the weather had been very sunny and I had forgotten to drink all my drinks as planned. I had taken the caffeine drink but still I was getting very tired. As the 25th mile was completed I had 10mins to go to get in under 4hrs. By this time I was looking at my Garmin constantly and my HR was of no concern to me. I had planned to walk the final 1.8 miles, if I had to, in order to complete the 28 miles. So I tried to push as hard as I could. Unfortunately, as hard as I could was not hard enough. What I experienced was a sort of loss of control of my legs! My cadence had dropped to 77 and I just couldn’t get them to go any faster. I now believe this may have been due to a lack of electrolytes. The sports drink I take does have electrolytes in it but I think I might need some more! Next time I will definitely take salt tabs during the run. My HR at no point went above 153, it’s just that my legs wouldn’t move when I wanted them to. In the end I completed the marathon distance in 4hrs and 51 seconds. A 14 min PB for me and some more lessons learnt. I did get very hot but I countered this with a hat, some factor 50 sunblock and some strategically positioned ice packs! It would be very useful if I could find some of these in smaller sizes. One inside my hat would have been VERY useful. After I completed the first 26.2 miles I took a half mile recovery walk and then completed the 28 miles in a total time of 4hrs 25 min. Well my first over marathon distance run and how did it go? Well, I’m back out running now – just 2 days after the run – with no apparent ill effects. I’m very happy to have improved my marathon time and I’m really looking forward to my marathon in early October 2011.