As I write this, two of the girls in the office are discussing which colour face paint they should don for this year’s Brighton Marathon. They are intending to make running 26.2 miles as much fun as possible.
I’m in training for the Virigin London Marathon and I’ve got a time in mind, the same time I’ve had in mind for my previous two efforts at the race. Sub-four hours. My first effort fell 27 seconds outside that barrier. I still run through the reasons why I fell short.
I stopped for a pee just after the start
I stopped for a pee at about seven miles
I stopped to do my lace up at about 18 miles
I hit the wall at about 21 miles and staggered about like Bambi on tramp fuel for at least five minutes.
The worst part of it all was the feeling of helplessness as I got into the latter stages of the race, realising my mile times were getting slower and the target was getting further away. I knew I was close, and put in a last desperate sprint down the Mall to dip under four hours. It was all in vein, and made all the more galling by the fact I could hear the race announcer calling home pint-sized Irish popster Ronan Keating ahead of me.
I ran Loch Ness in 2009 and knew a combination of a significantly harder course and the fact that training through the summer is pure torture would mean adjusting my capabilities, and duly finished in 4hrs 27mins. My next crack at London the following year was sabotaged by a torn calf at 15 miles. I ran 4hrs 16mins.
Injury is a cruel mistress, and she has visited me again this year. In an attempt to complete 16 miles last weekend, it felt like I’d been stabbed in the knee at about the 10-mile mark. Thankfully, I have been diagnosed with a muscle imbalance issue that a bout of hamstring strengthening exercises should solve. Thanks to Liam Goode at www.physio4life.co.uk
for what will hopefully prove a swift recovery.
And so with an injury-free run in from now until April 17th and a fair wind on the day, sub-four hours is still within my grasp. Just.
It is bugging me though. It occupies my thoughts for most of the day. I wish sometimes I could be more like the girls, discussing face paint and fancy dress. But I can’t. I’ve set myself that goal and I NEED to complete it. I have failed if I don’t. It’s just the way I am.
So, if anyone else is out there with a beating a specific time as their one true aim come race day, let’s hear from you. How’s training going, how’s the speed work going? And what are your top tips for ensuring you cross the line before that clock ticks over into what you and I would deem failure.
Alternatively, has anyone got Ronan Keating’s phone number?
I’m raising money for the Essex Disabled Sports Foundation, you can read more about them here