I signed up for this race at the beginning of February in the knowledge that this would be quite a step-up in distance for me, given that I haven’t run further than 15 miles in my marathon training so far and that it would be the furthest I have run since the Boston (Lincs) marathon last April.
Regardless, I felt that this would be a good test of my fitness and it would present me with an opportunity to try out my new fuel belt and rehearse my mid-race fueling strategy which worked so well for me in my marathon last year. This was also to be my final appearance in a Tonbridge AC vest, as I transfer my first claim membership to Lingfield Running Club from 1st April 2020 due to a recent move to Forest Row, East Sussex.
Preparation for the race itself was mixed. I had laid my kit out on the Thursday beforehand and practiced fueling on my most recent 15 mile long run, however, my nutrition the day before the race wasn’t the best and I had only put around 10 miles in my most recent shoe purchase.
As for the morning, I had my usual pre-race breakfast of porridge with cherries, pumpkin seeds and ground almonds whilst also preparing my race fuel. I departed 20 minutes later than planned, which wasn’t ideal given that the race was 50 miles away and I arrived at Lydd just after 9:15 with the race due to start at 10am. I parked up, changed and dropped my bag with 10 minutes before race start which provided me with just enough time to complete a jog warm-up and drills. In fact, the race organisers were so overwhelmed with entries on the day that the start of the race was delayed until about 10:10.
My plan was to run at around 7 minute mile pace to see if and for how long I could sustain the pace. I felt this was a reasonable effort, given that my half marathon pace is 6:30 and I ran my last marathon at 7:15. The first 3 miles of the race saw me run 6:59, 6:43 and 6:55, before I slowed a little in mile 4 with a 7:12. I then covered the next 4 miles pretty much on scheduled pace. Miles 9-11 were covered in 7:11, 7:05 and 6:56 with miles 12 and 13 at 6:56 and 7:02.
Before I move on to my analysis of the final 7 miles, I should add that the Course conditions were far from ideal! There were strong winds for the duration of the run on a largely exposed course, which, in fact, was not to disimilar from that which I experienced during my last marathon. Also, due to the recent heavy rain, there were two sections of the course where we were forced to run/wade through ankle deep water – of course, which this being an out-and-back race, it meant going through this on 4 occasions!
So, by miles 14-16 I was beginning to show signs of fatigue and I also began to notice rubbing on the underside of my left foot, which I think was caused by a mixture of running in new shoes (I had only put 10 miles in them before this race) and running through the water obstacles, which I believe added to the friction problem! I covered these three miles in 7:21, 7:21 and 7:24.
After this point in the race I really struggled. I covered mile 17 in 8:02. Miles 18 and 19 saw me taking sustained walking breaks, partly due to the strong headwind which, given the added effort it was taking to run against, I felt it more sensible to conserve energy and also, due to the pain I was enduring from my left foot – I covered these in 9:30 and 10:05. With 1 mile to go, I decided to break into a gentle jog and managed to keep going to the finish line – I covered this final mile at an average 8:19 per mile pace.
On reflection, I knew that this was going to be a big challenge for me, having not raced further than 10 miles since the end of December and with my last half marathon being in September of last year. My training since the turn of the year has been sporadic and it is only in the past 6 weeks or so that I have managed to get into a regular routine (my marathon training started on 10th February) with my running and fitness.
In conclusion, are there things that I would or could have done differently to prepare for this race? Yes, of course! Did I learn a lot from this experience? Yes, a great deal!
I can now take this experience with me as I continue my training for the Cork City marathon, which takes place on 31st May 2020. I have only just completed 4 weeks of my marathon training so far and have another 12 weeks to go. This week sees my mileage reduced significantly (17 miles in total planned) as I recover from Lydd with this week’s long run being 10 miles, the following week 14 miles and the week after that 18 miles. Another 18 mile long run during week 8 will see me halfway through my training before I step up the distances in the second half of my training plan.
Please check back next Monday (16th March 2020) for my next blog post which will be a review of week 6 of my Cork City marathon training.
Thanks again for reading and please feel free to leave comments below.