Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Sunshine on a rainy day

As laid in my hotel bed at 3:45 am, unable to sleep because of the combination of excitement and nerves, I thought to myself, 'we must be close to a railway line or something'.  A short time later I realised it was actually the wind in the trees outside my window.  I eventually got up at 7am and looked out, it didn't look quite as bad as the forecast suggested. Yes it was raining, yes it was windy but I imagined a biblical downpour rather than just - rain.  I managed to eat my breakfast and messed about packing and unpacking my bag and trying to decide between shorts and tights.  My pre-race routine went completely out of the window as my Sister and Brother In-law (Pete) called to say they were waiting downstairs.  It was time to go (outside) and at this point it was clear that actually it was pretty flippin cold.

We got dropped off and spend the next few minutes avoiding the puddles in a vain attempt to keep our feet dry on our way into the stadium/start. And that was the last time I saw Pete until about 6 miles in (when he overtook me like I was standing still).  A few more distractions inside the 'Dons' meant I was even less organised than normal.  What a time to get a call about a stray dog a 100 odd miles away!

The plan for the race was to stick as close to 3:45 (8:15) pace as long I could, accepting that at some point I would blow up and that by then I'd hopefully have banked enough to scrape under 4 hours.  Not a 'normal' pacing strategy but I was worried that if I started running just under 9 minute miles when it came to the latter stages I'd not have anything left to pick up a bit.

Anyway the race got underway and I slipped into a nice 8:15 pace for the first six or so miles, give or take 30secs for a wee break.  Despite limited training in April I felt okay in the legs but crikey my stomach felt as ropey as a bag of full of ropes. I had only one swig of water until I got the first Lucozade station at 8 miles and after a swig of that, I spent the next mile trying not to lose my breakfast.  Puddles of rain is bad but puddles and other runners breakfast is quite another.
I reached halfway more or less bang on 3:45 pace and started to think that maybe it would be possible to keep up the pace, but by 16 I was starting to slow up a bit and beginning to felt the miles. By 20 I'd worked out that I was still about a minute ahead on my 3:50 pace band but I was loosing about 30 seconds a mile on that.
Just a small puddle!
I should have mentioned that I was I-podded up for this run and until 22 miles I had only one dodgy shuffle.

But just before 22 miles there was quite a steep hill that really started to hurt, then of all the songs on my i-pod, Adele came whining into my ears about some bloke who's she's heard about and who's married now or something. It's not the easiest thing to 'release' the i-pod from my back pocket, switch of the 'keylock' thing with frozen hands and then try and change tracks... But I just about managed it but did a sly walk whilst changing - sadly my wife and sister were just up the road a bit and spotted that!

The next event was my second gel attempt. The stomach was feeling better by now or at least my legs were hurting so much my stomach felt better by comparison so the 23 mile gel station was visited. Another narrowly avoided vomiting incident later 24 miles were ticked off and I knew that I could run 12 min miles and still make sub 4 hours - phew. But if I ran a little bit faster I might, just might scrape sub 3:55 so off I went.  It felt like I'd suddenly started running 7s but the Garmin told me different! The final mile or so was emotional to say the least.  As Doug says on his blog Stadium MK appeared out the trees and suddenly we were a wide open road, running down hill.  The I-pod chose this moment to shuffle onto 'So here we are' by Bloc party which is one of my favourite songs and one of those tunes that makes my hairs stand on end even though I've heard it loads of times.  I've never actually looked up the lyrics until now but after 25.5 miles it seemed much more meaningful... So I've pasted them here with my MK Marathon additions

I caught a glimpse, but its been forgotten (of the stadium and no it's not been forgotten) 
So here we are again (yep)
I made a vow, to carry you home... (yep and I blogged a bit about it) 
I really tried to do what you wanted (run sub 4 hours) 
It all went wrong again (Not this time) 
I figured it out,  (apparently I did) 

Brilliant - those 3m53s of Bloc Party brilliance will stay with me forever.  The song ended just as I turned into the stadium and I pulled out my ear phones and just ran as hard as I could running past the goal and up the side line... and across the finish line.
3 meters  from the finish line if you squint

13 seconds over 3:55 I blame that ALL on Adele and her rubbish relationships!  Anyway I set out in the morning to run sub 4 and was nearly 5 minutes under my target so at that point i was an emotional wreck.  Crying when your out of breath is so hard I gave up until I saw my wife and niece in the stands waving...

Where's Wally (in a yellow top)
Plodding out from the stadium was nice and gave everyone a chance to encourage the people coming into the stadium to finish.

MK Marathon - Done. And I loved it despite the rain, the cold, the mud, the puddles, the floods, the pain and the hills.  All of those things made it a really memorable day but most of all it was the marshals and people that lined the course with so much enthusiasm, energy and at times humour.

The Journey to MK
This whole MK adventure started with a conversation with my sister and Pete. Sis didn't manage to do any training for the race so didn't run (something about a new job).  With 600 odd training miles between us and a 26.2 mile Pete was the clear winner completing his debut in 3:37.  I am seriously impressed with that time and it does give me a target for NEXT time.

Thanks to my wife (Lisa) for taking the pictures and supporting me throughout the journey...


  1. That's a really nice post covering the day and once again, congratulations!
    What next? Another marathon and will your blog continue?


  2. Thanks Doug. I'm sure another marathon will be on the cards sooner or later. I'm certainly keen on keeping the blog going and as long as people keep looking I'll keep posting stuff up. I've got a couple of ideas for the next few months once the legs have recovered a bit.. Hope you've thawed out now.