Chester Marathon.

I actually learned my lesson this time! I got all my kit ready last night. I did a trial pack of my helmet and whatever kit I could fit into my backpack. I ended up sawing down an old, cheapo, pair of boots so they would fit in my bag, to save me from riding to the race in trainers. They must be 10 years old, fake leather bike boots. Basically steel toecap wellies. I’d forgotten I still had them. Anyway; improvise, adapt, overcome.

So last night I went to bed knowing all was set for this morning.  The race didn’t start until 09.00, I set out out 07.00. Which meant a fairly stress-free ride to the race, even though it was raining and the satnav took me a way I wasn’t expecting. The first car park was so full it wasn’t even letting people in, but due to my new strategy of leaving myself sufficient time, I just turned around and found another one. Took off my bike kit, sauntered to the bag drop, and had 40 minutes or so to wait for the race.

The difference to the stressfest of the journey to the Outlaw triathlon was incredible. So that was a success.

The rest, not so much.

As I never stop saying, I want to go sub 3 hours for the marathon. My best to date was 3.41:40.

Today, seeing as I’ve been doing a bit of speed training and such, I really wanted to get down to 3.15.

I set off just behind the 3.15 pacer. (They have pacers who run around holding a sign with the speed they are going to finish.) It was all going swimmingly. The pacers seemed to be too fast, they would charge along at 7.09m/m pace, then slow down just before the end of the mile to come in at the right time of 7.30. So it seemed to me, anyway. The good thing was it wasn’t bothering me. I was thinking of staying with them, fast and slow, until the half way mark and then carrying on at the fast pace. Then we started hitting hills. Stupidly, I’ve been doing my training down the canal and on a local 10 mile road lap that has one slight hill. The hills just smashed my legs. I tried easing up on the pace going up, then sprinting to catch up with pace markers downhill.

I was holding the pace for the first 10 miles but the hills just kept coming and my legs were wasted. At 13 miles I got the psychological boost of the halfway point which in my mind is turning towards home, so picked up the pace again. But the next mile there were more hills and my legs had set. I was still fighting up until about mile 20 when I just couldn’t get back up to speed. If it had been a training run I would have quit by then. As it was I just had to shuffle on. The last few miles were misery. They scored about a ‘3 stone twins, no anaesthetic childbirth’ on the suffering scale. Still more hills.

I was staggering into the last mile when the 3.30 pacer ran past me! I drew on everything I had and chased him for the whole mile. I finished in 3.30:33.

The negatives, obviously, are that I crashed and burned due to no hill training. Also, that I should have know that it was a hilly course and prepared. It runs from Chester into Wales, of course it’s going to be hilly! Not sure how I missed that. I’ve run it before. Apparently I forgot.

The positives: preparation and allowing yourself extra time is totally the way to go. I beat my PB by 11.07, (which was set on a flat course) and death doesn’t seem as bad now.

I’ve just got an email with my stats from the marathon. I finished 51 out of 347 in my age/ sex group. (Male 50- 54). I’ve done the maths (well, a calculator has) and that puts me in the top 15% for my category. 14.7% , to be exact. It’s no excuse for crashing that badly, but it shows that it was a tough course, and absolutely not one to be chasing PB.

I might do it next year, but if so it will be as a fun run.

The other bit of good news, as I’m this done in, is I asked for an extra shift at work for tomorrow, but they’ve knocked me back, so I’ve got an unexpected day off to recover. I’ll do a small, gentle, recovery run (jog) to try and break my legs up and get them working again.

I’m off next Sunday, if I’ve recovered I’ll do a flat marathon around here and see what my real time is.

That’s all I have to say about that.