Wednesday, June 05, 2019

London Marathon 2019 - Epilogue

My experience of running a marathon seems to be very different to many others. A triumph of common sense over pride and ego is what finally got me over the finish line. That and Jeffing it.

If I had one piece of advice to give to others it would be: run your own race, at your own pace. Forget targets, forget PB’s, ignore what others are doing, ignore the pace runners. Run what works for you. It’s about the distance not the time.

This is my journey to the VLM 2019 finish line:

22 January 2016. Age 63.  Couch to 5K. Inspired by some friends doing Couch to 5K I went for my first run in about 30 years and managed 2 miles. Two days later I went for a 5K run. Well that was easy! “How hard can it be to run a marathon?” I asked. "Hundreds of thousands of people do it every year." “Try a half”, my wife advised.

9 October 2016. Age 64. Royal Parks Half Marathon. Based on my training runs I predicted a time of 2:14:50 (I plotted all my runs in Excel and drew a best fit line). I went with the 2:15 pace runner and trotted over the finish line at 2:14:52. Easy, peasy.

7 April 2017. Brighton Full Marathon. Based on my training runs I predicted a time of 4:40. Went with the 4:30 pace runner planning to ease off a little towards the end and hit my target time. It was the hottest ever Brighton marathon! They run out of water and I ran out of steam. Collapsed at 22 miles and, after a long rest, walked to the finish line in 5:45:39. Technically I finished but morally I was unhappy with it.

22 April 2018. Age 65. London Marathon. More training than last year. Eased back on the updated predicted time to 4:55 and went with the 5:00 pace runner. Guess what? Hottest London Marathon ever!! Plus the pace runner set off too fast and I didn’t have the nous to drop back and run my own pace. Result: I collapsed at 18 miles, threw up my isotonic gels and retired from the race - never even made it to the finish line.

28 April 2019. Age 66. London Marathon (again). This time I abandoned all targets and predictions. Decided to completely ignore the pace runners. Decided that it was not important to run continuously all the way. Decided to Jeff it. Walked for 45 seconds every kilometre, rinse and repeat 42 times. Kept up a steady pace and crossed the finish line on my third marathon attempt. The time was a passable 5:16:05. No hitting the wall, no collapsing, no aches and pains. Two weeks later I ran my second fastest ever Parkrun.

Many people say how much they enjoyed the day and how fantastic the crowds were. For me it was just a very tedious 26.2 mile slog and I suppose the crowds provided some distraction from the boredom and discomfort of working my way round. I am clearly a grumpy old man.

We all learn something from running a marathon. I have learnt that I have a level of self discipline and determination that I would not have believed. You really need that to do the training.

That’s me done with marathons. I just don’t see the attraction of running. It’s back down to parkrun on a Saturday for me. If I ever even think about doing another then I’ll take myself outside and slap myself round the head.