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Race Report

Thames Meander Marathon 2013 – Race Report

Relatively quick report today, because at the moment I am Tin Baby sitting (also known as ‘parenting’) and while she is currently contentedly watching ‘Mike The Knight’; this will surely not last long.  Realistically, I could show you the following table and it would tell you everything you need to know about my second marathon:

















I was on target for a sub 4:45 marathon until the last five kilometres – during which my illiotibal band and hamstrings went to absolute poop.  I reached a stage where I couldn’t run at all and had to speed walk while time ticked away.  It was fairly demoralising and left me in a bit of a hole, but in the cold light of the following day I am able to realise that I still ran a 9-minute personal best.

The race started off well, as I kept repeating a mantra to myself – it doesn’t matter how you feel at kilometre 8, it matters how you feel at kilometre 28.  I figured to myself that if I felt ok at 28km, I could have a ping at a faster time, but if I felt horrid I would have to pull back.  So while people were passing me in a hurry, it took a lot of mental will to not dart off down the road after them.  Fortunately for me for later on, I was able to hold myself back.

I held a nice comfortable pace for the first half marathon, holding station at roughly 2 minutes ahead of schedule.  There was a sprinkling of rain for the majority of the first half marathon, which was nice and cooling on the skin.  I had a couple of low moments in the first half though.  At around 16km into the run, I started to feel weak.  I’ve never really had it happen before, but I started losing time relative to my goal pace at a vast rate.  I started to panic a little, but virtually as soon as I got some jelly babies into me, along with a bit of water and a couple of more kilometres, I felt fine again.  Crisis averted.

At the half-way point, the organisers had conspired to place hundreds of football fans in front of us.  Not really, but that is the way that it panned out.  Fulham were playing Arsenal at Craven Cottage, which happened to be virtually where our turnaround point was.  I happened to arrive at the same time as a (literal) boat load of Arsenal fans offloaded from the Thames, and had to fight through the drunken throng in order to get to the aid station filled with gels and water.  It certainly slowed me down in terms of the time I could have run, but given my leg explosion some time later – I doubt it actually affected my overall time.

Turning for home, I continued to hold my goal pace nicely.  At some stages between 22km and 32km I even managed to put some time into my little goal guy who was chasing me down (thanks for the goal guy Garmin).  I even allowed myself to dream a plan of how I could attack a sub 4:30 time – I had it all worked out in my head.  I got a final bump of energy upon seeing the Tin Wife and the (sleeping) Tin Baby at around 26km, just as I was starting to flag a bit.  Anyone who wonders whether or not support on a long run helps – needs only look at my marathon splits to recognise the difference it makes.  This was fortuntate, because around now the heavens open and dumped what can only be described as a deluge of water on my head.  The best indicator of how wet it was? I stopped dodging puddles of water on the path – my feet were sodden enough from simply running the rain for it to matter.  It absolutely chucked it down, which was not actually that bad – quite cathartic I thought.

Then at 37km everything went pear shaped in a fairly spectacular way.  I had dropped my ibuprofen that I had stowed away in my race belt earlier in the race, and when I needed it the most due to the pain I was feeling in my IT bands and hamstrings – there was none to be found.  The next five kilometres were a flashback to Edinburgh, even though the times I ran yesterday were significantly better.  So a meltdown it was, but nowhere near as bad as Edinburgh.  I ran/walked the remainder of the course, managing to pick up the pace for the last 1.2km on flatter ground.  I’m not going to lie though – it hurt in an almighty manner, and it was here that I had the classic ‘why did I think this was a good idea’ thought.

So, I crossed the finish line in a slightly-more-respectable-than-Edinburgh time of 4:51:58 – 8 minutes and 30 seconds faster than ever before.  The analysis will continue for weeks to come no doubt, but until then – I have a half marathon to come before the Box Hill Sportive.  No rest for the triathlete wicked.

Listening To: ‘You Sound Like Louis Burdett’ by The Whitlams



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