Photo by Vicky
|#1 / 12
Gloucester Marathon, 19 January 2020
I think I’m starting to get the hang of this (this was my 7th). Up ’till now each marathon has been its own focal point preceded by a structured training block of 16-18 weeks. Leading into the first of twelve it did not make sense to me to go through an intense period of training. It has been really important not to get injured before getting started.
Being the first of 12 meant that I could just relax and go run. No pressure. It was just a stepping stone into the year. My last marathon was Chicago in October 2019 and the only other ‘long’ run was mid-December when I did a 23 miler (37km). I’ve kept a decent weekly mileage going of 30-40 miles (48-65 km) and come off of running a 365 day streak in 2019 with a total of over 2000 miles (3200 km) and so felt like there was a good foundation. But, it’s a marathon and you just never really know – I’ve been bitten by 5 of the 7.
The day broke bright and sunny but freezing. The temperature was around -1 to 5 ℃ (30 – 41 ℉) with blue skies unseen for months – the UK has had one of the wettest spells I can remember so this was a real bonus. Running conditions were perfect and it was great to line up at a small ‘local’ race where supporters could mingle with runners at the start line.
Carolyn – my ever-supportive wife
Bright and crisp
The Gloucester race starts with 2 small loops and then 4 x 5.5 mile loops. I hate loops generally. As it turns out it was pretty cool to run the loops. It meant you could sense what was coming and it helped me settle into a natural pace. I planned to ‘run comfortable’ for a couple of miles, check the pace and then to stick to that throughout.
Gloucester Marathon course
My comfortable pace was about 8:30 – 8:40 min/mile (5:15 – 5:25 min/km) and in the back of my mind were 2 things:
- keep up this pace and you’ll PB
- keep up this pace and you might well die at 20 miles
Sure enough things started to drift at 20. I dropped about a minute per mile with the pace down at around 9:30 min/mile (5:53 min/km) but I actually still felt pretty good. Legs weren’t screaming, pace was not totally on the floor and my aerobic state / energy were also ok.
I checked the time at 23 miles and saw I was at 3hr 19min. Suddenly I thought the sub-4 hour was on, even if I drifted quite a bit. My standard watch face shows Power, HR, Lap Pace, and Distance – I was neither tracking nor really bothered by overall time. Until I was.
As I crossed the line and stopped my watch I saw the PB – 3:53:25. Woohoo! Really unexpected. OK, so it was only a minute or so but still… previous PB was Milan in April 2019 of 3:54:55. You always hope for a good run and a PB but this year I have different goals and was not aiming for the time specifically.
The learning was this (and it’s not a new concept at all) – build a good base and sure, train hard but run to your ability not your aspiration. I think if you can find the right pace you end up running your best race anyway. If you’ve prepared well that probably translates to a PB.
So, with race 1 done, I can now relax into my big adventure for 2020. The next one will be more relaxed as it will be a coastal trail marathon. Having a good one ‘in the bag’ already I can truly put the time out of mind and soak up the run. Fingers crossed for the weather, It’s the Northumberland coast in Feb and it could be bleak. No matter, it’s going to be fun.