Nutrition intake starts with a Beet-It shot 12 hours before the race time. Up at 5.30am, didn't need an alarm as I woke up at 1.30am, 3am, 4am and 5am before giving in and getting up.
Is there a better feeling than race day?
First toilet visit of many, we all know the feeling then downstairs for fueling, not breakfast, fueling. Bowl of porridge with honey, chocolate chip brioche roll, coffee and a pint of water. A second Beet-It shot, 2 hours before race time. Check my bag for the fifteenth time to make sure a gremlin hadn't taken out a bit of kit during the night. Back to the toilet. Get in the car and off to meet up with two Bournemouth AC runners as I'm getting a lift. Great drive to the race as all we talked about for an hour was running. I'm going for anything from sub 3:30 to 3:39.
We're off and I'm really cautious from the off as keen to avoid a 10m/m death March for the last two miles which spoiled the last two marathons. Worried before the race my left glute would flare up (wonky pelvis injury) in the first few miles but it doesn't and I relax. Took a gel before the start of the race, promised I'd have a few swigs of water at every water station and a gel every 5 miles. Two miles in and the 5 gels I've stuffed in my short pockets are pulling my shorts down, an unexpected problem. Decide to take a couple of gels out to prevent me running along with shorts round my ankles. Then decide to put a gel back in my pocket which then flies out and I don't want to stop. Annoying but ho hum. A very kind man picks the gel up and hands it back to me, happy days.
Through 5 miles, take a gel, feeling brilliant, keeping my pace down but the wind is tough and the hills relentless. Ticking off the miles here with a negative split in my mind to keep the pace down. Nothing to report for up to 9 miles and then the plan is to up the pace to get near 8:05m/m for the next 8 miles (Marco pacing). So, I speed up a bit and encounter a horribly steep hill up to mile 10. Get to the top and I feel good but still consciously stopping any quick miles. Mile 13 too quick at 7:50 and I slow myself down. Cracking off the splits now I start passing runners regularly.
Mile 17, I assess how I'm feeling and still feeling good but a bit tired. Confidence is through the roof as this is where previous two marathons have started to go wrong. Strategy now is to push on and not to stop myself running a bit faster i.e. sub 8m/m but don't go mad. Next 3 miles are my strongest of the race. Get to 20 miles so let the race begin. I'm determined to push on when feeling bad. Big hills now which are at 19 & 20 miles and I'm passing loads of runners. I've passed loads of runners and some people are walking, stretching or sitting down and I'm pushing on.
Mile 22 is an 8:03 and I must have passed 6 or 7 runners during this mile. There is only about 270 in the race! Mile 23, I notice the old body and brain is starting to ask me to stop, I push on, 8:18m/m and I pass more runners then I hit the uphill section. Runners are all over the place are walking up the hills, I don't blame them, what a brutal finish to a marathon. According to Strava, mile 23 is net downhill but the undulations are killing me and fellow runners. Turn at about mile 24 onto a gravel path for the push to the finish and I really want to stop I push myself to go faster. Trail running now uphill and into the wind.
Bloody hell my body hurts!
Pass a couple of runners but this is horrible. Dead straight uphill path into the wind and my mind is screaming at me to stop. I push on but the splits are telling the story, I MUST AVOID A 9 MINUTE MILE! I push myself to overtake one more runner, Chariots of Fire, Paula Radcliffe, staring at my new PB about a 1,000 times after I finish are some random thoughts that pop into my head.
Pass the 26 mile marker and I sprint for the finish (8:24m/m) I run a tiny bit faster lol.
I've done it!
Cross the finish line and my legs stop working but I'm holding onto a barrier and my kids are there and family 'How bloody lovely is that'
3:36:45 for a 16 minute PB exactly. Oh what a feeling when I'm dancing on the ceiling (thanks Lionel).
Free massage, difficult as I cramped up in my hamstring, back and left foot. Then a hog roast and a couple of ales, absolutely lovely.
Make sure the first 10 miles of a marathon feel easy if they don't you'll pay later on. Get on target pace early and increase effort levels to keep cracking off the mile splits.