So how did my face go…..
Well as ever i was running late…..making it to the start line, via climbing over a barrier, with around 3 minutes till the off. Learning from my mistake at Trimpell , i had already found my signal and set my Garmin. I also had my gel belt in place and five minutes prior to this, had downed a bottle of Lucozade sport, i was ready to go. What could go wrong….
What did go wrong, was that i didn’t start my Garmin on the start line, or before it, in fact i started at the first chip time mat. Which for some reason it turned was not at the start line itself. In fact the organisers had decided it would be a couple of metres down to the road, and It was only after i reached and passed that first mile marker and then noticed my watch beeping out a pace time around 20 seconds later that i released this mistake….i mean who puts a chip time mat just down the road from the start line…… to be fair the real start line was probably the temporary bridge they had built for us to run under, but arriving late, i hadn’t released that or had any time to think about my surroundings.
Hey ho, not to worry, i had my trusty Asic pace band, so i knew what time i had to reach various markers at and I had my watch set on 6:50 as a warning that i had slowed too much. So between the two, i would still be able to monitor my progress, particularity as I had set my watch to display the total race time and average pace time. The result however does mean that the limited split times provided by the oranisers are probably a more accurate picture of my race but looking at both still adds value.
So i set off too fast, reaching what i believed to by my first mile in 6:24, the second in 6:34 and the third in 6:43. I knew this was too quick and i knew that if i was not careful i could blow up later in the race. So i pulled myself back letting a number of runners go by me as i started to recorded times around the 6:50 which is more what i wanted to be doing.
The hilly section of miles 11-13 arrived and with time in hand, i didn’t have to worry about pushing on up over any inclines, even if it wasn’t these weren’t exactly challenging hills. covering mile 11 in 6:53 , mile 12 in 07:01 and mile 13 in 6:47
For some reason i found miles 15 and 16 really hard going passing them in 6:56 and 07:02 , i wasn’t sure if my fast start was catching up with me or if i hadn’t eaten enough the day before. But i kept telling myself not to worry about it, just get back to 6:50 you achieved that in Trimpell over 20 miles, you can do this. So i tried to pick up the pace a little and when i heard someone in the crowd mention here comes the flag…. i knew it could only mean one thing. And a quick look over my shoulder confirmed this. About 40 seconds back down the road was the 3 hour pace runner. I had no choice but to pick up the pace and put some more day light between me and him covering mile 17 in 6:40 and mile 18 in 6:47 with my top speed each sub 6:30 pace at times.
Mile 19 was another tough mile, not only had i just been pushing on for two miles but i was starting to feel a blister come through. I have never had a blister appear mid-race before. And one reason for that is that i usual Vaseline up my feet before a long races, this time i had forgotten, my left toe was in pain and it was slowing me down.
Eventually, i was able to ignore that pain and get back tracking and passing miles 20 – 23 between 6:43 and 6:52 pace. Then came mile 24 and more pain, this time my quads and here is where my lack of speed or strength work came crashing home. Every move caused me pain, but i knew i had passed the 20 mile mark in 02:15 , a PB, i was on for sub3. Surely this wouldn’t be my undoing…..
Various phrases of encouragement came into my mine such as ‘when the tough get going……’ , ‘hope in your heart, wings on your heel.….’ , ‘Berlin 1989…..’ , ‘think of those who have come to watch you or are watching online.…’ , ‘ think of those you could inspire….’ and ‘fight for every inch.…’ these random phrases combined with shouts of encouragement from the crowd such as ‘come on simon’ , ‘you’re almost there‘ , ‘not long to go now’ , ‘ sub3 is around the corner‘ and making use of each water station to cover my legs in cold water to numb the pain, kept me going through some tough miles. 07:04 and 07:12 pace.
Then i could see it, i could see the stadium, raising above the houses and neighboring buildings. As a Liverpool fan, I cannot stand Manchester United, but i so pleased to see their stadium appearing ahead of me. I looked down at my watch and it read 02:54:12. I could do this, if i could just pull something out of the bag, i thought to myself, i am too close to fail now, i have to go for it.
And go for it i did, pushing on as hard as i could, turning into the home stretch, the streets now three-four thick in crowds cheering the runners home. I remembered my measurements, less than 200 metres to go. I could see the clock up ahead 02:57:?? it read……. i moved into what seemed like a sprint passing a number of runners 02:58:?? the clock read, and up i went, jumping as i crossed the finish line, replicating my Wales finish from the previous year and bringing laughter to the crowd in the process. But i didn’t care about that, i just broke what some call an arbitrary measure, and others a milestone. I had run a marathon in sub3. Joy , shock and amazement, I couldn’t believe what i had done it, my greatest running achievement to date and still now i cannot believe i managed it.
When i crossed the finish line in Edinburgh in 4:13:05 , i though there is no way i would ever run a sub3 marathon and now here i am, with a net time (i assume that means chip time) finish of 02:57:54 and a gun time of 02:58:23, which ever way you look at it, i am a sub3 marathoner……..and i am so pleased about it! A PB of 14:52 meaning i have maintained my average marathon PB of 15 minutes , recording six PBs in a row now. Marvelous stuff, if i dont say so myself!!
And finally here are those out of sink Garmin stats @SJPC14