Monday, 28 May 2012

Week 13 of 18 - Abject Failure

Well that was most certainly a training week to forget! There wasn't a whole lot of training this week, with the main focus being the Edinburgh Marathon on Sunday. I did however manage to commute to and from work on the bike 4 times, only missing Fridays commute due to having a driving lesson in the evening.

My training for Edinburgh had been fitful and not really focused towards the impending challenge of a Marathon but I had, had successful races previously off far from ideal preparation and so waiting on the start line I considered running with Luke and helping him towards his sub 4 hour target rather than my sub 3 hour 45 goal. I elected to go ahead by myself and decided that a crack at my Marathon PB of 3:34:28 was the order of the day and if it started to go wrong I could ease off.

The weather was warm as Pete, Luke and I did our final preparations before the off. We had all put a little sun cream on, but I had elected to leave the cap in my bag a decision I would regret, and so my crop of fair hair was exposed to the sun for the entirety of the race. Pete went to the front of the red pen, whilst Luke and I started a little further back not wanting to get stampeded by the faster runners around us, as we had been a little ambitious in our target times when we had entered the race back in September.

We were set off on time at 9:50 and I wished Luke good luck and was on my way. The first 5 miles are predominantly downhill and account for the net downhill nature of the course. It helped exaggerate my tendency to go off too fast when fresh. My PB pace is 8:11 min/miles and I went off like a hare at 7:38. The course double backs on itself just after the first mile and so when I saw Pete well ahead of me, I knew he had also gone off fast, I reckoned about a 6:30 first mile. I always managed to see Luke behind me but couldn't get either Luke or Pete's attention.

After that first frantic mile I tried to settle myself down, and take it easy on the gentle downward slopes, managing to halt my pace somewhat with miles of 7:48, 7:54 and 7:55. The first 4 miles well within PB pace, the route flattened and my splits soon began to go backwards 8:15,8:19,8:31,8:37,8:47. So with some of the ugliest splits you'll ever see I was somehow on about PB pace going through 9 miles. It doesn't take a Maths graduate, it probably only requires a rudimentary grasp of maths to understand that the mile by mile slowing that I was exhibiting was not only going to mean me missing out a PB it also showed I was going to suffer, and boy how I suffered over those next 17 miles!

Even getting to half way was painful and my splits continued their downward trend 9:01, 9:11, 9:44, and 10:42. It is only in writing this that I realised I managed 13 consecutive miles of getting slower mile by mile that has got to be a first for me. I had managed to get myself through halfway in something like 1hr 53 minutes. Not textbook by any means but still in the ball park of a sub 4 hour marathon allowing me to do a half marathon in 2hrs 7 minutes. The only problem was that halfway through the 12th mile I had walked and I continued to do so for much of the rest of the race.

From the first time I started to walk at mile 11 I was looking over my shoulder for the white Adidas T-Shirt that Luke was wearing, I knew my legs were shredded they were completely gone and when you get to that point there is no coming back from it. To make matters worse a friendly runner saw my Two Oceans Ultra Marathon shirt when I was having a walk and chatted to me asking me if I had ran it this year. We both had and talked about the rain we had at that race being much better than the blazing hot sun we had to contend with today. I managed to jog with him for a minute, before my legs again gave out.

I have had bad races before; I have been forced to walk in races before. The first race I ever did the Southend Half Marathon in the baking hot sun it ended in a 2 hour 17 minute time, there was the British 10K where I had a bit of a nightmare, and the Bath Half Marathon where I got a stitch and underperformed. Even the pain and discomfort of the Two Oceans none of this could match the place I was in halfway through this race desperately looking for a familiar face in the runners easing past me.

Finally after 14 torturous miles and just after the drinks station I turned around and saw Luke. I was walking; he looked shattered, red faced and sweaty trying to get some liquid on board. He looked as pleased to see me as I was to see him. He thanked me for waiting for him, but I told him I was having a nightmare and hadn't waited for him. We both managed to get going again, both talking through the nightmare we had endured. Both of us were in very similar places, neither of us was injured but our legs were in pieces. We realised that walking was going to become a big part of the remainder of the race and so we tried to manage it, attempting to run half a mile before walking for a minute or so.

My split for the 14th mile was 10:28 and then for the miles that I managed to stay with Luke from mile 14 -19 the splits were as follows: 11:03, 10:24, 11:24, 11:27, and 12:42. We couldn't always stick to the half mile run and a little walk scenario, it was fine on the slight downward parts of the course, but any kind of incline and we were struggling big time. It was at around 18 miles that I felt my ITB and this gave me real discomfort in my right knee. The heavy legs, the burning Quads, the tight calves could all managed this run/walk 11min miles but the IT Band meant even that was too much. I reluctantly told Luke I was done and he should go ahead.

I had really appreciated Luke's support through that part of the race and even though it was only 5 miles, the pace we were going and the world of pain we were both in, it felt like 8 miles or more. I was now three hours into the race, alone, injured, exhausted and the only thing keeping me going was the fact this was an out and back course and I had to get back for our flight home, O and for good measure I was carrying the passports and boarding passes!

I had now resigned myself to basically walking it in, 7 miles at around 15 minutes a mile I was look at in excess of an hour and a half in the baking hot sun, with nothing to really play for. I had run 4 Marathons before so I had proved I could do the distance. I knew this was going to be my slowest of the lot by some distance and so my drive and motivation really were low.

As we headed back in to town the crowds grew larger and they were making some good noise to urge on the weary runners/walkers. But I just looked at the road, trying not to make contact with the crowds, too ashamed to meet their eye. I kept going and the splits for the next 6 miles were 13:44, 15:07, 14:36, 13:57, 14:42 and 14:05. This essentially involved me walking fast until I saw the next orange mile marker and attempting to run the 300 or so metres to it before I resumed walking. It was painful, humiliating and just so slow. Even with a meagre 3 miles to go I was like, brilliant! Another 45 minutes on my feet.

I managed to find something, from somewhere for the final 1.2 miles as I managed to run a 10:55 minute mile and the final .2 miles at 8 minute mile pace and even managed something approaching a sprint finish to dip in under 4hours 40 minutes. Dark times!

Looking for positives for me from this race is tough, near impossible but here they are:

- I finished
- I got a big piece of medal, it's enormous!
- I enjoyed Saturday with Luke and Pete.
- I am alive (Some of my fellow runners being attended to by medical staff looked in awful shape)
- We made the flight home! (Only just!)
- I will use this as motivation for my future races, after the Outlaw I will not tow the start line of a race unless I am happy that I have put in sufficient training to do myself justice.

It was a gruesome race, the heat, the lack of training, the IT band issue I thought was sorted, the Solero breakfast they all contributed to a Marathon time nearly 40 minutes slower than any I have every run and over an hour slower than my PB. But I will make it right at Berlin in 18 weeks’ time. I am in the processing of transferring a 16 week Runners world Marathon programme on to my fetch I will beat 3 hours 30. I will get serious about Marathon training. It is not a distance I enjoy or ever will enjoy but I want to train for it right and do myself justice.

Thanks to Pete and Luke for a great weekend. Although like me you didn't quite hit your targets I think you can both be really pleased with your efforts. Pete for a 3 hour 30 marathon with a 1:34, 1:56 split that is some positive split :-) I know with some good training and more favourable weather conditions you'll go 3:15 no sweat.

Thanks to Luke for his company during those tough times, sorry your first Marathon wasn't an enjoyable experience. I know you'll be back to give it another crack. But if you decide not to, it's a tick off the list. You did fantastic to get over the disappointment of missing your target and working through it to get home in 4hours 20minutes.

So there you have it people, a massive blog for a massively disappointing performance. Good for you if you made it to the end.o and thanks to Lauren for being on the end of a phone the chat and texts gave me a boost when I needed it most.X

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