The VLM lowdown

Ray Sievey Thursday, 26 April, 2012
So first and foremost, I am disappointed to say that I did not achieve a sub four marathon, if I had typed this on Sunday I may have used the word gutted or devastated, but I have had a bit of time to reflect.
You may have seen from my Tweets or Facebook updates on the day that I thought I had let a lot of people down. I must thank everybody who sent me messages of congratulations and general pick me up messages.

I have had a chat with Nick (Anderson) the coach from Running With Us and he has told me, in fact demanded that I look at it positively. I have just achieved a marathon PB, 15 years after by previous best marathon time.

When chatting with Nick he gave me a great analogy that I would like to share with you.

If you are going to climb a mountain, first you need to put in lots of practice and training. So if that mountain for me at the moment is sub four, I have only really had a relative short amount (4-5 months) of training. Also before you push on up that mountain, you need to get to base camp first and then acclimatise before your ascent. If I take all of the running that I have done recently as base camp, maybe I just need to spend a bit more time at base camp first, before pushing on. But as Nick put it, 6-7 months ago, I was at the bottom of the mountain. So, once the legs recover. I will be back at base camp, continuing my training

The more time I have to reflect, the more proud I am of my achievement. I do have a list of positives to take from this, but I will leave that to next week’s blog as this week I want to focus on the marathon itself.

Before I do, I would just like to say that when I heard on Sunday that a woman had died during the marathon, that quickly snapped me out of my self pity. I saw lots of casualties during the day on the side of the road receiving medical attention, so irrespective of time. I am grateful that I finished. RIP Claire Squires.

What went Wrong?

Thinking about that heading, I am not sure if ‘wrong’ is the correct word to be used? But I want to reflect on the situation which might help others.

Was I too ambitious? 

With a sub four goal, I don’t think so and I do believe that I will be able to achieve it. I think maybe though that because the training had gone so well, I had managed a 1:38 half marathon, although I know I could NEVER maintain that pace for a full marathon. I had loads of people saying that I was doing well and that I will nail sub four, I raised or lowered (depending which way you look at it) my target. In fact I had a 3:45 time band on my wrist. I must admit, that I ripped it off in disgust at about mile 22 when I realised that I wasn’t going to achieve a sub four.

For a 3:45 I need to be doing 8:35 m/miles, you will see from my stats below taken from the VLM tracking website that up until 30K, everything was pretty much going to plan. But in hindsight, I should have just stuck with the original target of sub four and gone for a 9m/mile which would have given me a 3:56. The phrase ‘walk before you can run’ springs to mind, if you pardon the pun! And if I am being brutally honest, I still feel I have let Nick down a bit, by deviating slightly from the ultimate plan. Ray 26 april 2012 stats

Did I factor in the conditions? 

Again in hindsight, No. When I got home Sunday evening, I didn’t realise how much I had caught the sun, in fact both arms are sunburnt! When it came to the water stations, in the first half of the race, I was taking a drink at most stations, little and often is the mantra, but on reflection I was taking too little, maybe only two or three swigs before discarding the bottle. Once I got to mile 20, at every water station plus the Lucozade stations, I was necking a whole bottle every time, so I think that I was a dehydrated. But by then it was obviously too late.

I knew I was doomed when, first the 9 min mile pacer overtook me, I tried to hang on to his coat tails but was unable to and then Alfie the Dog overtook me as well. I saw my wife at the 23 mile mark and she told me afterwards, that after she had seen me she was welling up and had a lump in her throat as she could see how disappointed I was in my face that I hadn’t achieved my target despite the effort I had put in. I admit on the day, my head was well and truly down. But hey, I finished.

So, a few memories from the day. There was one person holding a banner saying ‘Go on stranger’ which obviously applied to 99.99% of people, and I also liked the banner being held by a woman that simply said ‘You are my favourite’ I am pretty sure that was directed at me!

I couldn’t believe that there was a 4p difference in the price of a litre of unleaded between the 8 mile mark and the 19 mile mark.

I do feel I missed out on one thing though and that is all the offerings from the crowd, but my mum told me never to accept sweets from strangers.

The atmosphere was amazing and the camaraderie between runners was equally so. I was getting lots of encouragements and pats on the back as I toiled those last couple of miles, and one fella slowed down his pace and said “come on mate, I’ll get you there, you get me there”

I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate fellow Project 26.2 girls, Lorraine and Laraine on completing the marathon who have both been through the wringer with injuries and during the last few months both had situations where there was some doubt they would even make the start line, let alone finish.

And then there is Mark, who I will now call ‘Lloyd’. The reason being is that Lloyds bank has a dark horse as their logo, this man is Black Beauty! I won’t steal his thunder and reveal his time, but put it this way, he grabbed the marathon by the goolies, twisted them, yanked them up over it’s head and threw it to the floor!

I would also like to congratulate everybody else that I know who completed the marathon. For some it may well be the only marathon that they do. For me, I have some unfinished business... Ray 26 april 2012 smile

Until next week

The Hippo

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