So, as soon as I sat down on the timing mat at the London marathon I thought “this is not how I want to end this training cycle”. The PR was fantastic and hard, HARD-fought. But the experience of the race was so very unpleasant. I have never before run a race and wanted to quit right away. Anyway. You know all that – you read my race report and enough of that jeremiad. Looking back I think various things contributed to this really unpleasant race – I have had ongoing GI issues which really erupted in the days prior to the race and which may have left me more depleted than I had hoped, it was far hotter than any weather I had trained in, and, well – it just wasn’t my day?
Waaaaaay back in January, when I was seriously doubting that I’d ever be ready to run London in April, I entered a “just in case” marathon. I searched high and low for a marathon with PB potential some time after London. That way, I figured, if I wasn’t race-ready by April, I’d have another bite at the cherry a few weeks later. I settled on the Kent Roadunner Marathon. I picked it because it’s very different from the London marathon. Only 300 entrants, to begin with. And more than that – the race is run in laps on a 2.493 km smooth tarmac cycle course. 17 laps. I didn’t give the matter much thought but I’m always up for something different, and the race is a certified course so I booked a hotel, put it in my diary and put it all to the back of my mind.
Until 3 weeks ago. Usually, after a marathon, I take a couple of weeks off completely. I might run, but it will be a jog. There will be no schedule, no plan. Mentally and physically I will feel done, done for, and cooked. But this time I really wasn’t. I knew I had to take it easy for a week or two, but 10 days into it I emailed my coach “I want to do this marathon in Kent!”. She probably shook her wise head all the way over in Massachusetts and thought “she’s crazy” but off we went. Now here we are -6 days away from the race – and I’m feeling good to go! I’ve done a 16 miler, a 19 miler and a 14 miler as long runs, I’ve done some hard speed work and some decent hill workouts. And this week I’ve suddenly got this feeling of what I call “juice in the box” – when I set off to run easy, I’m running fast. I’m having to hold back. It’s a great feeling.
And I won’t sandbag this- I am hoping that next Saturday I can get under that 3:40 mark. I have no issue with running laps – most of my long runs are run as lapped runs to make fuelling easier – and I’m hoping that the laps (and my custom pace band – working out my pacing without mile markers but on each 2.493 km lap) make it easier to stay consistently on pace, rather than let my pace race all over the place like I did in London. But most of all, I want to enjoy this race. I know that running that pace starts hard and gets harder but – at points in the race – I want to smile while I’m hurting and feel “right” again. Here goes!
And after this, I’d better not be feeling done, done for and cooked. Because mid-July I run my 30M ultra, and after exploring a tiny part of the course there last weekend I realise I’m in for a challenge and may have bitten if not too much to chew, about as much as I can handle. The challenge is not just to run the 30M up and down the heather-covered hills and through the swampy bits at the bottom, across the rocks and sometimes off the trails (umm) but also to navigate. I had a very spendy Saturday last week buying a new compass, race vest (which I LOVE – why have I not had one of those before?) and new rain gear which is compulsory for these races. And, luckily, this week the weather has been so hideous that I got a chance to test my gear out in gale-force winds, hail and 5 degree C temps.