7C, cool, overcast. Rising only slightly in temp, ideal running weather.
Met up with Emma and Ash at the marathon start, gave Emma some words of encouragement for her 5k, and showed her a dropped manhole hazard on the finishing shute.
I was in wave 3 so had a 10 minute wait from the actual start. I didn’t see any pacers near me in that wave (more on pacers later). When the wave was set off it seemed very busy for the first couple of miles, slowed me slightly but that’s ok. Then I saw I’d done a fast (for me) 3rd mile split, 7:16 min/mile. I’d been aiming for about a minute slower… knew I’d gone off too fast.
Miles 4-7 were also sub-8 min/mile. Oh no, but felt ok. My pace then dropped naturally to what I’d been doing on 20 mile runs, around 8:15-8:25. Heel felt ok, actually improved on the run. I passed a 4 hour pace group after 5 miles, then the 3:45 pace group at 9 miles. I didn’t know how far ahead they’d started, but knew I was going too fast. Saw I’d done first half in 1:47, hmmm. A pit stop at 14 miles let the 3:45 pacer just back in front, took over a mile to reel them in. Thought about tagging along but legs felt ok so just eased ahead, kept going.
A few spectators shouted ‘go Steve’ etc, and a group on cycles kept passing, pausing, then passing again, and they kept calling my name.
In the middle miles I knew my legs were tiring but no niggles apart from the usual left adductor stiffening up. I pressed on…
The mile 22 marker seemed to be missing, and it was a relief to see mile 23. Then turned into a southerly headwind. About mile 24 I saw my total race time was 3:23, and I simply calculated a couple of 8:30 miles would put me close to Jeff’s marathon PB. That helped me up the pace, from mile 24 at 8:52, to mile 25 at 8:37 and mile 26 at 8:15. I’d remembered what Jeff said setting his PB; he tried slowing down and speeding up and the tiredness and pain were the same, so he went for it. That’s what I did, literally ‘sprinting’ the last half mile including finishing shute.
I saw Emma in the crowd, waved, and the announcer called out my name amongst others running in. I felt really emotional again, I often do at a mara finish. I knew I’d done my best. Heading through the finish area I collected food, drink, free beanie hat. Visited the results tent and read the printout in disbelief: sub-3:40 by 2 seconds. More tears and sobbing.
I could not find family so headed back to the hotel, couple of blocks away. Reception gave me another door key and I called from there. Seems I’d missed the finish area exit point, they were worried I’d be in the medical tent collapsed or worse!
So, best ever marathon time, knocking 32 minutes off PB. It’s going to be hard to beat that time, but I just want to enjoy my running regardless of time.
One change I plan which should help my fitness is, after celebrating today’s marathon, I’ll be trying a vegan diet or as close as I can get. Think cleaner fuel will help, just need to be careful and eat a variety of good whole foods.
Distance: 26.2 miles (TT 26.33 miles)
Time: 3:39:58. (TT 3:39:59)
Avg pace: Official 8:24 min/mile (TT 8:19 min/mile)
Trainers: Brooks Ghost 10