Monthly Archives: October 2013
Race Date: 06/10/13
Race Type: Marathon
Performance: Mixed 6/10
On 6th October I toed the line at the MBNA Chester Marathon. It’s fair to say my involvement in the marathon was somewhat slap dash.
Why did I even do it, 8 weeks after doing Ironman UK? A friend of mine was running in the event on his own and suggested I join him – he dropped out in the week leading up to the race which kinda pee’d me off a bit. I was turning 30 in the middle of October and wanted to get a sub-4hour marathon on my CV before that milestone age marker. Finally my missus had gone to visit a friend in Australia and do a bit of travelling for 5 weeks! So why not, £40, whats to lose? As it turned out, quite a lot of water and a handful of dignity.
Chester Marathon was billed as fast and flat course. It was not flat. Long gradual climbs dotted around the course culminating in a killer of a hill at the 20 mile mark. Other than the shock of the inclines, the course was beautiful and took in a fantastic loop of the countryside and the old city of Chester itself. It started and finished at Chester Racecourse, which also meant from the off, the dew on the grass had given me wet feet for the next 4 hours.
5 weeks training wasn’t the ideal prep. I had to carefully, but fairly quickly build back up the mileage. Starting out at 10 miles, then 12, 14 and 15 mile long runs with a couple of shorted tempo runs to keep the legs firing. I soon realised I’d taken on too much, but the mentality of just completing Ironman UK made this feel like it ‘Anything really was Possible’* and I’d just done one of these marathon things and felt fine.
Chester Marathon was the first time I have taken myself to the breaking point. I ran really well up to 30k, knocking out 20 miles all at 8min per mile and felt great. I was on for a 3hr 28min time until I went bang.
My stomach locked and I could barely take a breath. I just made a weird groaning noise instead. I began to slowly shutdown and limped another mile here and another mile there.
My legs stopped picking up my feet. My vision began to blur and my hearing went a bit funny. A bit like when someone is talking to you and you have headphones in. Like walking past a club or a bar with music playing, muffled and unclear. It was a very strange feeling and one that I’d never experienced before.
I still had around 5k to go. My mind went haywire. I saw a brown tourist sign saying ‘River Trips’ and I argued with myself that we were running along the River Dee, not The River Trips. I’d never heard of the River Trips in any Geography lesson. I couldn’t compute the simplest of things. I was going bonkers with myself.
My splits looked like 10k – 48 mins, 2nd 10k at 49 mins, 3rd 10 at 48 mins and my final 10k home was 1hr 20mins! Yes I did hit my sub 4 hour marathon goal, but I did it the hard way. My folks even decided to take a day out to watch, but they were left waiting while I got some water and a sit down with the fabulous medical crew.
The keys to my downfall: Not enough water, not enough training, too hard too fast. Schoolboy errors and nothing new. I’d put so much emphasis on IMUK that every avenue was covered, no stone left unturned in the lead up & I wasn’t going to deviate from what training had taught me. Chester however, I was far too blaze and lax, not giving the event the respect it deserved and I paid for it.
I was all over the place. But in a sadistic kind of way it felt good to come through it. I’d taken myself beyond breaking point and still managed to keep going. I proved to myself that I can still survive when I’m at my lowest and things around me are starting to shut down. There was no way I wasn’t going to finish and if I can take anything away from that event it was that I can overcome a losing battle with myself and come out the other side.