Having ramped up my event participation over the last few months, I was left feeling as though the year had been cut short. I was not content that the last event was the last of 2016, so I booked a late entry to a Phoenix Running marathon on 30th December.
As always, on the walk to the start area I started thinking about what I would like to achieve. This would be my 4th event with a Phoenix Running and to close the year I thought somewhere around 3:30 would be good. The conditions were far from perfect, and true to its name the ground was frozen, making it slippery underfoot. It has been a mild winter so far, but this last week the temperatures have dropped, and damn it was cold. It was also really foggy so you could barely see 20 yards ahead.
We met for our routine race brief and although it’s a small field, it is an impressive line up. It’s not full of super fast people, but a lot of experience. As usual there were a dozen or so wearing their 100 marathon club tops. One young lad was running marathon 99, and soon to break the world record for youngest to complete 100 marathons, at the age of 21. There was another feller running his 1,234th marathon… let’s say that again; 1,234 official marathons. And equally impressive, another guy was celebrating his 200th marathon in the calendar year. Just think about that, that’s 3-4 marathons every week for a whole year.
So then there’s me. This would be my 17th marathon, 21st qualifying event for 100mc. We walked to the start and I barely had time to get sorted and had to chuck my bag in the tent just in time for the start. One guy zipped off immediately, I stayed behind for a bit but it felt comfortable so I joined him for the first lap. I knew I would not keep up with this sub 3 marathon pace, but I don’t really care at these events. I come to Phoenix Running events for a relaxed enjoyable run for me. I do not go out for an even pace or a negative split, and don’t expect a person best. The first half felt good so I went with it. I finished half way at 1:33. The leader was a couple minutes ahead, and third place was about 3 minutes behind me. I must be honest, at this point I felt good and did wonder whether I could actually get a PB? Now this would be amazing, considering the aid station is a tuck shop and certainly not set up for PB running. If I were to actively go for a PB then I would lay out fuel on the table, instead I was stopping each lap for a cup of water and a few sweets.
I started to slow around 16 miles. I could have maintained for longer, but I would be feeling it now. I’m not ready to go all out, and much prefer coming home feeling good, as I do now. So I started slowing and on that slippery slope I started working out times. I was on for 3:10 and thought I could comfortably get 3:20. Then at about 22 I was not feeling it, so I went back to plan A, and worked out what was needed for a sub 3:30. Why push much harder as I have nothing to prove, and all the Christmas food and drink was taking its toll. On the final lap I moved into 3rd position, which was expected at the pace I had reduced to, but I did not care. Secretly I had hoped for 3rd from the start as I was wearing number 3 😂😂
I finished in 3:29:21, which is a PB for me on this course and one I know I will be improving on next year. My 2017 goal is around pacing and marathon numbers. However, I feel confident that my pace is coming back and I will be knocking at sub 3 in no time.
It was tough conditions today, but it felt good. It was slippery but I’ve grown fond of my Glycerin14, I’ve not used Brooks much previously, but they are proving effective on the trails. There were a fair few people on the route walking dogs, and after being attacked by a dog last week I felt more nervous than usual. I hate that there are so many aggressive dogs being walked without leads or awareness from the owners. There were also a few large groups walking 5 abreast. One shouted abuse at me for running through them as there was a small gap… I’m sorry, I should have been more polite and jumped in the Thames to swim around them 🙄
All in all I was really happy with my performance and now I feel that the year can end. A good end, to a great year, and I’m sure I earned my 10 points today:
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