So, today was the day. We’d trained and trained for this target race. Maybe both secretly hiding nerves caused by the pressure we had rather publically placed upon ourselves……
Could we deliver…
WELL, one big bold shiny Personal Best, with bells and whistles and tassels goes to my rather incredible lady, Nicky…….
She believed in herself, reigned herself back from running TOO much faster than target pace, took a couple of slightly less rapid miles on the chin, refocused, took a gel and dug deep to get back on pace for the run in.
As she belted up the finishing straight, I was just bursting with pride and emotion, She had worked so hard to be capable of such a performance. Marathon #30 nailed!
Our early night in preparation for the early start was fairly pointless as we were treated to the sounds of the BMAD festival down on the seafront until (what for most people is a perfectly acceptable) 11pm.
Now, ordinarily, I love a bit of All Along The Watchtower……
So, after about 5 hours sleep, we dragged ourselves out of bed and porridged ourselves up and got plenty of caffeine down us. Martin, running too, was collected from the bus stop (where some say he sleeps) at crazy o’clock by our devoted and ever-present supporter, Gloria.
I even remembered the way to Sturminster Newton (although I think the journey home involved a little detour…)!
The NDVM bases itself in Sturminster Newton High School, where a small army of volunteers were providing drinks and cakes as well as bacon sarnies. As regular readers will know…. TICK.
The start is on the road outside the school and car parking is plentiful, ably directed by another small army, this time of boy scouts.
It truly is a lovely event.
Martin, as usual, had a few short issues, but was threatening to have a smash at a time today too. He’s come very close to 4 hours a few times, and despite his proclamation that he hasn’t really done high miles, we suspected he’d go close.
He was also offering a curly-wurly to anyone who deserved it by the end of the day. This is a bit of a tradition brought to our group via some good running friends of old.
We were right about Martin’s running. On a blustery day, he ran hard and strong to come tearing towards the finish line for a time of 4.04.
Great running again Martin.
“What about your race, Kevin?” I hear you all cry in unison…
Cards on the table, I genuinely thought I was in shape to run close to my personal best. Sure, I knew I was over tired, but I always train tired and believe myself to be strong mentally to tough it out, so I lined up fairly near the front of the field and set off with purpose.
The course is relentlessly undulating, but barely contains anything we would describe as a hill, so I aimed to keep just inside my target pace for each and every mile.
I soon got in to a little group ticking off the miles at about 7.15 pace, and, whilst I knew I was working for it, I didn’t feel massively uncomfortable, so pushed on. The breeze was brisk in places but we seemed to all be willing to take our turns in front.
I know the course winds through some lovely countryside and picture postcard thatched villages, but I was only half aware of it as I tried to keep my pace focussed. There’s a line across the road at halfway and I clocked that in 1h36m, so inside my 3h14m target pace. I knew from last year that the worst of the undulations were around the 20 miles mark so I felt I’d banked a bit of time.
Miles in 7.09 7.02 7.15 7.23 & 7.25 preceded……
THE WHEELS COMING OFF!!
Oh and how!
By then I was in a group of three, “Oh they’ve sped up” I thought, glancing at my watch. WRONG! I had slowed down. Quite Dramatically.
This hadn’t happened quite so eye-wateringly since my very first marathon, in Paris. I took a gel from my pocket before putting it back, I was starting to struggle to lift my feet and quite frankly, I was exhausted. Nothing a gel could do for that.
I took my demise in good heart and let myself naturally get slower and slower and slower as runners started to pass me by. I took a minute at an aid station to enjoy some melon, coke and Jaffa cakes before setting about my last few miles.
My salvation came in the form of Luke. Luke was stopped at a marshalling point looking in a world of pain. Which, it turned out he was, with his back in spasm around a herniated disc injury. Ouch.
Come on mate, lets shuffle in together. Which we did. Great to meet you Luke.
The biggest dilemma I have with my ‘disappointment’ is that I genuinely believe that, ultimately, it doesn’t matter, and I know that there are many for whom a sub 3.30 marathon would be a dream.
I guess I’m asking for permission to be a little disappointed, whilst still chuffed to have clocked up marathon number 32, ran another quick time and had a wonderful day out.
I did train very, very hard for this and believed I had it in me. Hey ho.
My 1st half 1.36, my 2nd half 1.52. Detonated!
They may be many reasons for this:
Maybe spending a full day up and down a ladder carrying bags of rubble on Friday didn’t help. Maybe those troublesome sinuses and snottyness were drawing on my reserves. Maybe lack of sleep. Maybe being so much heavier than I intended to be for this day. Maybe eating too much simple sugars rather than good fats and protein. Maybe not having the strong core needed to maintain running form when tired.
Maybe, today, that was how it was meant to be.
I was smiling at the end, because I bloomin’ love running and I feel blessed to be able to do this wonderful sport at all.
Another of our little gang, Jan, fresh from smashing her own Parkrun yesterday, turned up at the finish to cheer us all in, along with Gloria, and quite frankly, it really was a lovely, lovely day and I also feel blessed to have such great friends.
As for Nicky?? Sometimes words just simply don’t do justice to how she makes me feel!