After torrential rain the night before it was sunshine, blue sky and time to get a solid long run in. So I gobbled down a Muffin, couple bananas with black coffee before leaving the house for a 50 mile drive to the event.
I arrived around 30 mins before the start of the race, registered and collected race number before commencing with final preparations i.e. empty stomach out before saying a quick hello to a running buddy who was going for 2 loops of the marathon course today.
The sun was shining albeit there was a very strong breeze blowing and I was looking forward to getting out there on the country lanes. All the runners made their way to the Start line and a minutes silence was held just before the gun went off which was a very poignant moment and brought it home to me that days like this should be treasured.
The gun went off and I started very easy as planned and within the first 5 minutes we had to go up a nice hill and this actually helped keep things real easy. I hadn't brought a GPS device today as I switched bags at the last minute and forgot to take it out but my stopwatch would do the trick of knowing how long I had been running and to be honest I only looked at it every so often to get a feel of pace.
After the first 3 miles or so I glanced at my watch and calculated that I was running as at approx 8.10 min/mile pace and this surprised me as I felt good with easy breathing. The course was certainly not flat and there was plenty of up and down hills. I did restrain a little bit on the down hills because I didn't want to hit things to hard to early but things were flowing nicely. I didn't kick up the pace too much (maybe just a tad) and soon settled into a good rhythm.
During the next 10 miles I made sure I drank enough plain water (walking for a couple seconds so as not to choke on the drinks). There was plenty of beautiful fields, meadows as we meandered down the country lanes hitting the down hills strongly and jogging the up hills.
I reached the half way point in pretty good shape (1hr 46mins) which I was very happy with given the undulation and strong cross wind blowing. Still wasn't feeling laboured breathing wise and the legs felt good. I eased off ever so slightly though as we all know the marathon doesn't take prisoners in the last 10km of the event.
It must of been around mile 17 that I felt some aching and then pain in the back of my neck and shoulders. It was very uncomfortable to say the least so I tried stretching things out but that didn't really work. It went away within 10-15 minutes or so after a took on board some more drink at the stations ahead.
Then at mile 19 I started to feel cramping on the inside of my right leg (similar problem to last year when I ran the 35 mile overnight run). My pace then went went southwards so I conserved energy and tried to stretch / walk things off which did the trick after a couple minutes. Every time that it didn't like me and went into spaz mode and the wheels fell off. Every time I wanted to up the pace it said "No I don't think so pal" and my breathing was a little laboured so mentally I had to play a different game to what I wanted to do ideally.
It wasn't until reaching mile 25 that I had had enough of this so I gritted my teeth and pushed on with the pace. I concentrated on the few runners still ahead and passed about 6 runners during the last mile. I saw the finish line coming up fast and mustered a sprint finish despite the fact I could feel my thigh and calves cramping and but came home with a big smile on my face in 3:53 and change.
Collected my medal, goody bag and downed 3 cans of full sugar coke and a banana while walking back to the car. I didn't hang around long and drove 50 miles home before soaking in a much needed cold bath for half an hour or so while eating more bananas and a whey protein shake made with Almond milk. Have hardly sat down since coming in and feeling pretty good for it
Looking to soak the legs again before bed and have some chinese food in as a treat. Days like this should be remembered and treasured regardless of how poor you perform.
Was a great course though with great support and I am sure to be back soon.
Definitely felt a lack of training mileage wise and long runs contributed to a poor day performance but also my pacing was off and I must of gone out far to quickly. A good experience and rest assured that it has re-focused me to get my ass in gear.
Roll on the running bandwagon :)