Target 26.2 - 2014 - James Carroll - Sub 4
Well done Ruffles, Andy and McHilly.
Orapid, so sorry to hear about your run, here's to the next one.
James, looking forward to your report. I've updated my blog, not sure I've ever written so much. Really enjoyed being part of this thread and there is no way I could have achieved sub4 without all the support from everyone on here. It gave me a real focus, especially when I got injured.
I got a massage yesterday but still feeling stiff. Have you been given any advice about recovery running this week?
Marathon de Paris
April 6th 2014
It is with mixed emotion that I write this report. On one hand I have succeeded in reaching my target of a sub 4 hour marathon, then the other is that this journey I have shared with so many special people has come to an end.
Before I even dig into the race itself I think it is appropriate to thank some very important people. First of all Sam Murphy my coach, who has guided me through this process with wisdom I never knew one person could have with regards to running. The plan was tailored so well to my personal abilities and left me in great form to run a 3:55 first marathon. Then my team mates, Malcolm, Isabel, Roger and Gareth we have shared this journey together and it seems such a shame that it has come to an end. There is no doubt in my mind that we will all meet up again soon. Dubai marathon in January, any takers? We have shared an experience that few will be lucky enough to have and I can safely say I have made some great friends during the experience. Then the rest of the pro team, Sarah, Ruth, Steve and Victor. All masters in their field and were able to provide such valuable information along they way, no amount of reading could provide what they have been able to. Then a very special group of people, the Runner’s World team, Andrea, Katie, Sam, Chris, Tom and Dan. They have worked tirelessly to make this whole project possible. They were able to create and experience that most runners can only dream of. Again, I have made some friends that I am sure I will be lining up with on start lines in years to come, Chris I’ll let you off because of your bad knees! Then of course our sponsor Asics, Cathy and her team have provide us with so much I don’t think I can possibly list it. We have been looked after so well and it is hard to thank you all enough. Then of course all of the individuals both here, on the forum, twitter and facebook all of whom have shown such support to the campaign. I sincerely hope it has inspired others to challenge themselves, just as it has me.
Next. Race Report…
The build up to Sunday morning was great, it did involve amounts of carbohydrates that I will be happy not to see for a while. However, carb loading must have worked.
After arriving on Friday afternoon we headed straight off to the Expo. I had no idea how large these exhibitions were. If I was a rich man I would have needed another suitcase, it was like an Aladdin’s cave for runners. Having my sensible head on Malcolm and I had a quick stroll round and spent most time perusing the race map for Sunday. The rest of the team seemed quite content stocking up on goodies for home, everyone needs a Paris Marathon t-shirt. I felt slightly guilty I hadn’t bought mine! Back to the hotel for a quick change and then out for pizza and pasta!
I awoke on Saturday to blue skies and rising temperatures, what a treat. It felt like a proper holiday. After a bit of breakfast we went out for a easy 2m with the coaches. Well we all ran at and easy pace, Roger ran at his pace, which was equivalent to a sprint for the rest of us. A quick shower, then into race kit and up to the terrace for photos and interviews. The rest of the day was out own. So a bit of a stroll around the local sights and pizza and a very nice café, perfect. Even more perfect was the fact that there was time for a siesta before the evening meal! A great pre race dinner of…pasta left us all feeling very ready for bed before the big day.
Lights off at 11 and I slept like a log.
Race breakfast at 5:30am, bowl of muesli and 500ml of squash. Went down pretty well although I was feeling slightly heavier than I have been used to previously on race days. Other than that I was ready for action. Taxis left the hotel at 7am for the start line.
The drive across Paris was the first time that I had felt the nerves. It dawned on me that not only was I wanting to do it for myself but also for all the people I have met along the way. A bit of pressure! We were dropped at the Asics trailer and were able to drop our bags and get the final pieces of kit together. Shortly after we made the walk down to the pens.
The walk to the pens was an incredible feeling, thousands of people all heading to the start line in the blazing Parisian sunshine. I made may way into the 4hr pen, this is where I made on one of my first timer mistakes. I positioned myself in the middle of the pen, in hindsight I should have battled may way to the front in order to help with the pace later on. The atmosphere was incredible, at this point I had already decided that I wanted to do it all again. The clock reached 8:45 and steadily the waves set off. It took my wave 45mins to get to the stat line. At this point I realized that the 4hr wave had been released on two sides and I was on the side that went last, arghhhh. Not letting that get to me much I crossed the start shortly after 9:30am. The run began:
The aim for the first 10 was 8:50/mi this was ticked off with little problem apart from a loo stop at mile 3. The French didn’t seem too concerned where you stopped for these breaks along the course! The course up to now was a wonderful mix of cobbled streets and open parkland was a perfect setting for a run such as this. The crowds were spread out in clusters along the course; sometimes so close that it caused bottlenecks but then so sparse that you forgot you were running in a capital city. Having not run a major marathon ever before I was slightly naïve in how I thought I would be able to maintain a steady pace through each section of the race.
Mile 10 to 20 I was still feeling strong however was adding on so much distance trying to find a clear line. SO many people were already walking and stopping on the course which meant you needed to be quick to react in order not to go A over T. Some people were not so fortunate; I was passing lots of scrapes and scuffs at this point. Now I struggled to drop to the 8:40 pace that I had hoped for. It was a bit of a rollercoaster section for pace, slow sections between bridges/tunnels and corners but then speeding up on the longer straights. I did meet reach 20m feeling pretty darn good.
Now for mileage that I had never run before. I was surprised that I felt surprisingly ok. This lasted up until mile 24 when the legs began to get heavy and the finish line seemed like it was never going to arrive. Then the last mile marker appeared and it was time to dig deep and head for the line. What a feeling to cross the line with my wife, teammates and friends all cheering only meters before the finish. My first marathon finished 3:55. Amazing.
It all seemed a bit surreal over the next hour, elation and immense sense of achievement followed by the inability to work normally up stairs!
It was great to hear the stories from Roger and Malcolm who had already finished and then wait for Isabel and Gareth to finish their races. Now time to stretch, eat, wash and celebrate. We managed to squeeze all that in before crashing out knowing that I was now a marathon runner.
Travelling back to London on Monday gave me some time to think, what next? Well, I loved the whole experience and loved running the marathon distance so will definitely see if I can find another run before the end of the summer. I would be keen to run one of the less high profile races, maybe even on trail rather than road. If anyone wants to join me, I have some ideas!
One more huge thank you to all those involved, it has been a life changing experience.
Finally, a massive thank you for all the love and support I have received from my wife Sara from the start of this campaign. Now it’s your turn, just don’t beat my time on your first effort!
Great write up James. It's been a great journey!
Hey James - just seen your first and second half splits - incredible! Like Isabel, you ran almost exactly even halves. I'm so proud and impressed!
It's been a real pleasure working with you over the last 4 months - you've shown a great capacity for training both hard and long and I have no doubt you will be running sub 3.45 or 3.40 on your next outing. Best of luck to you and Sara in Dubai - it was lovely to meet her.
Big congrats also to James and Andy on your sub 4s - and commiserations to Orapidruns on the DNF. I'm sure you'll be back on form soon.
It's been great interacting on this thread. Thanks for all your contributions!
Great race report James and you smashed sub-4 on your first mara - impressive stuff. The congestion of Paris puts me off. Would you do it again?
Have to say this forum has helped me achieve my target. Kept me on target and inspired. Thanks James and all.
I enjoyed Manchester. Pretty flat, good support in places, perfect temp for running. I was ready for the isolated bits at 19 miles to 21/22 miles. Beyond 22 miles my legs did get heavy but it was bearable. There was a great sign from 2 people saying 'pain is temporary, chip times are forever'. Definitely spurred me on. I was trying to encourage the walker in the final mile to get running again - someone thanked me afterwards as they jogged again.
As Andy said we saw each other at the finish. Not sure I was as fresh as he thought I was! Really enjoyed the finish though. I was sprinting in with a girl just ahead of me. I turned to look at her to say well done, and she turned out to be from my running club! Never spoken to her before so nice to have a little chat.
So, as James said, has anyone got anymore races planned? I'm doing the Nike 'we own the night' 10km in Viccy Park (where my running club trains). Also got Berlin marathon booked in September. I really, really want to do London and New York over the next couple of years too.
Great running all
A great write up James, congratulations
Fabulous write up, felt the emotion in your words. All the very best in your next sporting venture and move and of course to Sara on her first marathon! Has ben great to work with you and all the very best.
Good luck to all those running VLM this weekend.
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