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
Sunday 11 August, 06:46
14C, sunny, mild. Went for the usual 13 mile weekend run. Had a gel before starting and carried 500ml water/SIS. Felt OK and started out watching my pace and HR to keep it under control. Quite a stiff breeze on the return leg, but nice. Thought I was running a reasonable pace without pushing 100%, and expected to get home in about 1:55/1:56, but wasn’t chasing a time. Was surprised to see I’d beaten the PB I set last weekend by a minute 🙂
Time: 1:52:42 *PB*
Avg HR: 155bpm
Avg pace: 5:21 min/km
Rabbits seen: 2
Peacocks seen: 1 (same one as last week!)
Wednesday 7 August, 06:04
10C, sunny, cool. Went for the usual 7 mile run. Felt OK and found the first km to Rother Valley was a good pace, so turning onto the path around the lakes I decided to press on. The mist rising off the water made it distinctly chilly for the first couple of km, good for running though. Rather than gradually winding up the pace I pushed for a decent pace from the beginning of lap 1. As I watched my split times I thought it would be a PB if I could keep it going. Tired slightly on the second lap but the times were still good. I don’t think I could have run much faster unless there had been something with sharp teeth chasing me. Knocked 2:27 off the PB I only recently set (run #635) 🙂
Time: 57:39 *PB*
Avg HR: 155bpm (no spikes, just running really hard!)
Avg pace: 5:01 min/km !!!
Rabbits seen: 2 on lap 1; 1 on lap 2
Saturday 3 August, 06:28
15C, mild and sunny, with a blustery wind. Went for the usual 13 mile run. Had a gel before starting and carried 500ml water with an SIS tablet in. Felt fine and just had it in mind to get round comfortably. Started at an easy pace and told myself it didn’t matter if I went over 2 hours, just enjoy it. I felt good on the climb up out of Killamarsh (ran past a peacock on the pavement) and started pushing on a little through Woodall and Harthill. Still felt good in Kiveton and Wales and thought the pace had picked up a bit. Tired a little the last couple of km but was surprised to see I’d beaten my previous best time by 52 seconds 🙂 (Previous best was run #617 on 30 June) I’ve ordered a pair of new trainers and looking forward to those. I’ve had the current pair for 6/7 months, I think, so they’re ready for replacement.
Time: 1:53:43 *PB*
Avg HR: 152bpm
Avg pace: 5:24 min/km
Rabbits seen: 10
Peacocks seen: 1
Tuesday 30 July, 06:02
14C, sunny and windy. It felt quite a bit cooler than usual for this 7 mile run. I felt good and did my usual pace for the first lap, around 5:25 min/km. Felt myself speeding up a bit on the second lap, for no particular reason. Got into a good rhythm and felt strong and smooth as my Garmin was telling me I was doing 4:55 min/km. Thought I might get close to my PB so kept it going. Ended up smashing 26 seconds off my previous best (run #616 on 27 June) and finished well with plenty of bounce in my legs. No niggles.
Avg HR: 147bpm
Avg pace: 5:14 min/km
Rabbits seen: 3 on lap 1