On 29th May 2021 I took on the Kempton Marathon, organised by Richmond Marathon. I didn’t have any huge expectations taking on this Marathon which was put on as an extra to replace the postponed Richmond Marathon. This Marathon was only 10 days after I finished running 11 Marathons in 11 days, so naturally my legs were tired and I really did not know what to expect. My 11 Marathons in 11 Days were all completed in 3:59, and my only real plan today was to get closer to sub 3. Sub 3 being my A goal, a PB (sub 3:08:53) my B goal, and in my mind being happy with something around 3:15. But honestly I didn’t know what to expect and there was every chance my legs would refuse to help me out.
I laid out my kit the night before as usual, but wouldn’t say I had the best Marathon prep. I went out for a 5k run, as I literally hadn’t ran for 9 days, instead resting and nursing a sore shin. My wife had an interview so I had to be home and look after the kids. This resulted in sweets, a few pints, Chinese, and then sharing a bottle of prosecco with my wife in the evening. As I said, I didn’t have huge expectations for this run, I just wanted to see how fast I could start, hoping somewhere around 7 min miles. This was my 84th marathon towards the 100 marathon club, and my 13th marathon in May.
The start was really smooth and well organised. I am very grateful for the organisers for putting this event on, as they really did not have to. After having to postpone Richmond Marathon it left many runners without a marathon option, and they put this event on in addition to the postponed event, most likely at a loss. There was a simple process to check bags and get bibs. Lots of hand gel and plenty of space to maintain distance. The gents toilet queue was a little long, and would have been better to swap over with the ladies who had no queue and many more facilities. I don’t think it caused anyone any delays though. Then at the start we went off as one wave, but spaced out with lots of space.
I started off at around 7 min miles, and we had about 500 metres running on trail to join the main laps. Once I got onto the main route I caught up with a group of about 6 runners at about 6:45 min miles, and this is where I stayed for about 9 miles. Slowly the people I was following fell off pace, so at mile 10 I took the lead. It is much more difficult staying motivated to hold a pace on your own. My legs already felt heavy and tired as soon as I started and I found that I slowed more to 7 min miles. To be honest I was ok with this. I wanted a sub 3 marathon, and I can make lots of excuses, but mostly I just didn’t have the fight in me today. I was also more than happy with the pace I was running. As I slowed a couple of runners overtook me and it was just too late for me to hold on to the pace, I just didn’t feel up to picking up the pace.
At around 15 miles I started to have a pain on the ball of my foot. A blister, something I never usually get. Perhaps I had something in my shoe, maybe it was the uneven surface we go over when crossing the track, who knows, but short of stopping to adjust there was not a lot I could do. I started slowing and had a word with myself, I had to just suck it up and get on with it. At around mile 20 I felt it pop, and I still haven’t taken a look at the mess that must be left behind.
The course was 8 laps and it made it great for planning fuel, I took a clif block each lap, and there was water and Lucozade available every 5 k which was perfect. After about 30 k it was feeling a bit warm and this got hard. I watched my sub 3 slip away, then as the minutes fell away I had one thing in mind. I could still PB. I knew regardless of what time I achieved, it would just be a stepping stone for my sub 3 journey, so there was no point killing myself for a time once sub 3 was out the window. But I have not PB’d for over 8 years, at any distance. Yes I am that old, my PB was 3:08:53 at London Marathon 2013, a month before my boy was born.
Today I held on, I didn’t give up when I started to slow, and I managed an unofficial time of 3:07:08, which is a 1:45 PB. I am proud that I feel like I am back to my best, after 8 years of running slower. I’m also proud that this PB comes just 10 days after running 11 marathons in 11 days. I definitely feel like a sub 3 is in the pipeline.
What’s next? What do you have coming up?