A foggy, cold start for this race. Stayed in York for the weekend, so we had a comfortable walk to the start line. Apart from feeling the usual stress and aggression from the taper I didn’t feel particularly well prepared physically. A slight Achilles niggle was bound to come on at some point, and I felt strong but not bouncing with energy.
Of course, I ran with Jeff, my twin brother. We were interviewed by a reporter at the start. Better start line music this year, not opera like 2013. Set off at a steady pace, around 5:40 min/km for the first part. A cameraman on a motorbike filmed us at 9km, and at 19km he passed us again and asked us to talk to camera for a minute. Wonder if we will survive the editor’s cut this year?
Felt reasonable at halfway, but I knew two out-and-back sections were coming up that would test mental strength. Another chap started running with us, and this distracted me and passed a good few miles. Jeff went through a quiet patch of internal focus, but said later the chat had helped him through. Leaving the out-and-back section at about 18 miles I thought I was going to finish OK as long as I could keep the rhythm I’d settled in to. Our running friend from Northallerton stopped to stretch at 22 miles, we carried on.
One part of the race I recall a bunch of runners following quite closely behind, like we were a pacing team. For fun I started chanting 1-2-3-4 marine yomping style. Afterwards someone said they had followed us for a bit and we’d helped them through a tough patch.
The last six miles were tough and a from a long way out I was wishing for the left turn up the hill to the university. The crowds and stewards throughout were great, the support really helping when it got tough. Two miles out my left foot began to feel quite sore. After miles and miles waiting for the left turn I was surprised when it was actually there, a bit nearer than I’d expected on that stretch of road. And the hill, though steep, wasn’t as bad as I remembered from last year. I didn’t have much left for the last part downhill to the finish so couldn’t sprint. Just paced it to the end, smiled for the cameras, and felt relief at getting round running it all and not destroyed.
Walking round the finishers area I started to feel stiffening around my right hip (adductors?) which made me walk oddly, dragging my right leg a bit. Otherwise just tired and hungry. Drank water at every water station, just a gulp of sports drink, and had gels at the start, 8km, 17km, 25km, and 33km. Think I managed hydration and energy levels quite well, stopping for pit stop 3 times and not suffering a big energy fade. Because of that, while I had tough spells noticing aches and pains, I avoided the severe internal focus I had for the last six miles at London. I also avoided emotional extremes like the end part of Berlin, Manchester #1 and to a lesser extent London.
So pleased we both survived and finished together. We had set out to just enjoy this race (like we always do) but it also resulted in a PB for me – 4:14:34. My best marathon previously was 4:25 and last year at Yorkshire my time was 4:40. The conditions helped – cool, no wind, bit of moisture. Actually got a bit of sunburn on shoulders, arms, back of knees and solar panel, from the last hour when the weak sun broke through. The fog also meant we could only see a limited way up the road, hiding the long stretches of road which can be demotivating. Overall, I think we paced this race well, easing off slightly where necessary. Also, we avoided weaving in and out of slower runners. Experience counts. Now I need to decide which race to do next Spring….
Official distance: 42.2km
Official time: 4:14:34
Garmin distance: 42.45km
Garmin time: 4:14:33
Avg HR: 153bpm
Avg pace: 6:00 min/km