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
Sunday 1 October, 07:05
15C, rain, grey, breezy. A 20 mile run along the Trans Pennine Trail to Chesterfield and back. Repeating the route I did 2 weeks ago.
Had planned to warm up and run the middle 15/16 miles at a set pace, something comfortable. But I found that my TomTom wasn’t giving me great pace data because of the trees along the TPT, so ran by feel and sort of just went for it. Tried to see what I could do.
Previously I’d been surprised by my time/pace and finished with a little bit left over. This time I pushed on – seemed crazy fast on the outbound – and held on as long as I could. Only the last mile was beyond my comfort zone, including the uphill bit returning home. Finished on ‘empty’.
Had a Chia Charge flapjack and 500ml water. Didn’t use other stuff I’d carried. Only wore t-shirt and shorts, carried stuff in my trail backpack, and didn’t mind the rain which changed from light to moderate and back.
I don’t think I could maintain this pace for the full 26 miles, but who knows how I’ll feel on the day, and what condition my taper will leave me in. One more 20 miler planned in 2 weeks time.
Noticed right heel and calf, as usual. Left knee niggle but not bad. Really pleased with splits/time/pace.
Distance: 20.08 miles
Time: 2:45:34 (PB – nearly 9 mins better)
Avg pace: 8:15 min/mile
Trainers: Brooks Cascadia
Wildlife: 3 squirrels
A great start to my #RunEveryDay
Saturday 16 September, 07:26
12C, cool, grey and overcast. A 20 mile long run was on the marathon schedule. This has been a high mileage week, so planned to do a steady pace and just get to Chesterfield and back on the trails, alongside the Chesterfield Canal.
Thought I may have overdressed, swapping a t-shirt for thicker long sleeved NYC top. Could have got away with a shirt, but it was OK. Wore gloves too. Slight drizzle and a bit of light rain on and off.
The mostly flat route was straightforward and I just kept it going. The previous evening I’d calculated to do about 3h10, 9:30 min/mile. Just had the route and total mileage showing on TomTom, no pace or time data, so just ran by feel. Was shocked by the final total time/pace, which shows I’m on track for sub-4 in Indy 🙂
Took bites of a Chia Charge from mile 4 and finished it by mile 12. Had a gel at 17 miles and drank 500ml water. Didn’t seem to suffer any energy drop, legs felt mostly good, bit of fatigue in last 2 miles but this was my strongest and fastest 20 miler I can remember. With Indy being flat this was my first good test of marathon fitness.
Distance: 20.09 miles
Time: 2:54:09 (prev best run #668 in 2013: 3:01:17)
Avg pace: 8:40 min/mile
Trainers: Brooks Cascadia
Weekly summary: 7.7+7.7+7.7+5.5+3+20.1=51.7 miles
Thursday 27 July, 07:31
14C, bright and breezy, cool. An 8 mile run-commute. Marathon schedule called for a 6 mile moderate effort run, so this was just a bit further.
I enjoyed pushing on a bit and tried to focus on using glutes, especially on the uphills. Felt like I had plenty of energy, bounce, and my running form seemed better too. Drank 500ml water. Knocked almost 2 mins off PB.
Distance: 7.64 miles
Avg pace: 8:47 min/mile
Trainers: Brooks Glycerin
After completing the NY marathon the preceding Sunday my legs felt ok but not full of energy. The day began with a 4am bus up to the Crystal Lake camp area above 5000ft. Don’t know if it’s lucky or unlucky like a black cat, but a raccoon crossed my path as I walked to the line of buses. The organisers set off each bus as it was full to do the winding climb up the canyon, which took about an hour and a quarter. My bus was almost driven off the road by a U-haul van, which turned out to be for the bag pick up.
I got a coffee and tried to keep warm. Then as 7am approached I applied sun cream and started final prep. There seemed to be several hundred runners there for the marathon, not sure exactly how many.
The start seemed to go off with a shout rather than a gun. Straight away it was downhill, and I noted a lot of the road had a steep camber. This soon started to affect me with my left hip and knee niggling a bit. I’d let the 4h pacer start way ahead of me but I seemed to quickly fly past him and his small crowd, though I was trying to be sensible. My watch was telling me what a stupidly fast pace I was doing! A bit further and I flew past the woman pacer with a 3h40 flag. I was beginning to get worried….
By around 8 miles the downhill was seriously affecting my quads and I knew I was headed for big trouble. The water points were every 2-3 miles and I was taking water at most of them. I went through halfway in a PB time, 1h44, but was realistic to know I couldn’t double that to get my finish time. By 17 miles I began a run/walk strategy. At first walking the few uphills, then just alternating walking and running downhill.
There were zero spectators. Just the occasional escorted convoy of vehicles using the uphill lane. So different to New York. But beautiful scenery and I was enjoying it. By around 22-23 miles the sun started to break through the cloud and it really began to warm up. Occasional scattered spectators stood outside of their houses. By now I was walking more than running, but still hoping to do a good time. The two pacers I mentioned had passed me by the 23 mile marker so I knew I’d be outside four hours.
By 25 miles my mental maths wasn’t doing that great and I figured I was going to miss a PB. Then a spectator shouted that the 26 mile marker was just round that corner, so I took heart and started jogging a bit more. He wasn’t being entirely truthful but it did help me to get a PB!
There was a small crowd near the finish line, and I think the announcer called out my name as I approached the line. I was in such discomfort I can’t be sure, but I did manage to strike a pose for the cameraman.
The medal is enormous and I got water, slice of pizza and foil blanket very quickly. The baggage pick up was so efficient it only took 10 seconds to get my bag, which was handed over with a smile. Brilliant.
I found plenty of blisters afterwards, and struggled to walk etc for about three days. So I have learned I need to do course specific training if I do another downhill course. But it was very enjoyable and the organisation was superb. Well done Revel.
Official timing: 4h 12m 2s
Temp started around 6C and climbed to around 25C (car dash said 29C when I got back to hotel)
Time: 4:12:02 (2 mins off 0ff PB)
Avg pace: 5:58 min/km
Sunday 12 April, 09:37
6C, windy, overcast – turned brighter later. Ran with Jeff, just intended to take it steady with a lot of climbing on the outward run. Thought the hills were OK but my heart rate readings were off the scale; partly due to not wetting the contacts, mostly because it was tough. After a drink at 5 miles the route turned flatter then downhill. My legs held out to the end, really enjoyed the crowds and the shouts of ‘Jeff and Steve’. The time was a PB for a race half marathon. Good preparation for the Liverpool Marathon in June.
Distance (Garmin): 21:22km
Time: 1:53:03 (official)
Avg HR: 167bpm! (spikes, hills)
Avg pace: 5:20 min/km
White trainers #2
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