The last minute marathon 

I think I should start this off by first saying, always respect the distance. No matter how many times you have run a marathon, this is a tough challenge. However, the more you do, the more you understand what your body is capable of. For the last year I have been using Phoenix Running events as my training runs. A way to build up marathon numbers, and an excuse for a long run. I can’t actually remember the last time I did a long run in training (outside of an event) it must be over 4 years. I’ve used these as my training and as I mainly pace I find that the more comfortable pace acts as good training for me.

A week after Ironman Kalmar (read about my experience HERE) I was beginning to feel like I needed a good run. I have a lot of events coming up in the Autumn season, pacing some great events, but that’s not for a few weeks. I knew Phoenix Running had some events coming up but didn’t know if I’d want to fit anything in after Ironman. I went out on my work leaving do on the Wednesday night, so after too many steins, the first event on Thursday wasn’t realistic.

Having a few stein after work

On Thursday I sent Rik a message asking if there was space on the Friday for me to turn up. This was very last minute, and a spontaneous marathon. As I said, I respect the distance, but with these events I don’t set strict goals, I don’t run my hardest, and I use it as a training run. I woke up on the Friday and I had decided, I would run a marathon today. This was my 28th Marathon, but my 34th towards the 100 Marathon Club (2 x Ironman and 4 x 100k events all count).

CEP and Asics on, ready to run

The morning started as any other would before a run. I had some porridge, and packed a Grub bar and banana for the train journey. I hadn’t prepared my race kit as I hadn’t planned the event. Unfortunately once I left the house I soon had far from the most ideal starts to an event.

I had planned my journey and allowed myself plenty of time to relax at the start, and also allowed for train issues with another train after mine. When I got to the station my train was delayed, connection was looking close but then it stopped outside the station for 10 minutes. Plan B took effect, next train would be tight but still get me to the start on time. But then this train was delayed, I then went a different way to try and catch up, and then this route was disrupted. The end result was that I arrived to the start line 22 minutes after the start.

My pre race picture, taken in the train after the event had actually started

I didn’t mind too much as this would only be a training run, but it’s the first time I’ve missed the start of an event. Not only had I not planned for the marathon, because it was a spontaneous last minute decision, but I didn’t have time for the usual pre race comforts. I usually like to chill out, go to the toilet, have a drink, and calm any pre race nerves. Instead I dropped my bag and started running.

Mogwai 2:

This event was the usual Phoenix Running set up; out and back laps, 1 lap and you qualify for the medal, 4 for an official half marathon, 8 for a marathon and anything more is an ultra. I always come to do the 8 laps. It was a new route, so I was in for some new scenery.

I usually spend the first few laps either at the front, or very near, depending on who turns up. When I started running the event had been going for 22 minutes already. This meant I did not have the motivation of running with people of a similar pace, and regardless what I did I was never going to catch up with the front runners, unless I really went for it, but that was never the plan.

Running along the river at the start of Mogwai 2

After I started I saw the front runners coming back. It was really strange, I’m sure the front runners thought “where did he come from?”. Also, the further I ran I’m sure that the other runners just assumed I was the lead runner. The reality was I was a whole lap behind everyone.

I saw Simon and joked with him about slowing down for me. We usually run at a similar sort of pace, although the last few times he has pulled away. It was strange catching up and overtaking people, knowing that I was a lap behind. Usually I know exactly where I am, but I had no concept of who was in front after just a few laps. I found it really difficult maintaining a harder pace because those running at my pace or faster were behind me. By the time a few of them caught me up I had already slowed, and had no incentive to keep up considering I was a lap down. I decided to do a bit of speed play, a decreasing pace work out. So I took the first 5 k fairly hard, completing in about 23 minutes. I completed the first 10 k in about 47 minutes, and the first half marathon in about 1:43. After 20 miles I was on for a sub 3:30, but at this point slowed, and the only pushing I did was to ensure I finished sub 4 hours.

I hated this little slatted bridge, was a real trip hazzard

On the course there was a small bridge, Rik always likes to put in a bridge. It wasn’t too steep, so even though I had to run over it 16 times, the incline wasn’t an issue. It did however have wooden slats on it, I guess to prevent people slipping in the wet. Which meant that you had to really concentrate on your footing. Rik was also a little cruel putting the turn point on top of an incline, which he could have easily taken out and added the distance the other end.

The turn point on an incline

Overall I enjoyed the run. It had a few more twists and turns than the usual route. It was mixed terrain, and narrow in places (I managed to snag my new CEP socks on a bramble which I’m not happy about). Everyone was friendly on route as usual, but I just didn’t have my usual mojo, or desire to push myself just a little harder. Starting a lap behind wasn’t a great start to the race, but it didn’t totally ruin the experience.

Chilling out on the last lap

I took my time on the last lap, but then increased my pace for the last mile to finish in 3:55:21 according to my watch. My official time was 4:16:12 based on the start of the event.

The bling

As always the medal was fantastic. Someone had got the medals from Mogwai 1 wet, and fed them after midnight, this was the result.

Mogwai 2 medal

You can read more reviews on Racecheck HERE. Finally, until the 30th September I am part of a photo competition to win a trip to take part in Rock and Roll marathon Las Vegas. Vote for me HERE.

CEP competition photo

3 thoughts on “The last minute marathon 

  1. Nice write up. That slatted bridge is the bane of my life. I run commute and go over it twice a day. Not only is it likely to sprain your ankle, it also gets really slippy when wet.


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