This was to be my 18th marathon and 8th time at Abingdon. Training had gone well and I set a half marathon PB of 81:05 in build up so was confident. The target was sub 2:55 with the hope to run 2:53.... but on the Friday before the race I developed a cold and by Saturday had a temperature and blocked sinuses. During the early hours of Sunday morning I decided not to run but had changed mind by 5:30 and thought I would give it a go and would pull out if feeling ill.
For the race, the plan had been to set off at 6:40 pace for first few miles then increase the speed slightly. The first few miles were bang on pace but when I looked at HR I saw it was more like what I would expect for a half rather an marathon. Mile 7 and 9 are up a slight hill and heading south in a stiff breeze. This inevitably meaning losing a few seconds. I think I went through half way in 1:27:30 so bang on for a 2:55 but I already knew that the effort had been a bit too high and the wind was getting stronger. On the 2nd lap the wind was more gusty and I lost over 25s over a mile and another 15s over the next hill. This realistically meant a PB was out of the question so I decided not to worry about time as long as it was sub 3. I also did not want to worsen the cold for little benefit.
For the first time ever in marathon I can say I enjoyed the last 4 miles. I knew I was going to run sub 3 as long as I kept going. I was still over taking lots of runners and only had a couple come past me. The last few miles were still tough but not the intense discomfit I have felt when going for a PB. I saw Dan at mile 25 and we grunted a few words of encouragement to each other. It was nice to head straight onto the track, rather than having a detour around the park as the old course did. I managed to pick up the pace a bit on the track and finish in 2:58:31 (52nd place).
After the race the legs felt ok for the drive back to London and when I got home I headed down the boozer. It was a nice coincidence my local had Truman's Runner on draft - I thought it would be rude not to sample a few pints!
Nice to meet TJB, DrD, Al-P and Dan before the race.
Great running Al-P for 2nd place and PB. Ryan congratulation on sub 2:45 again and so close to PB. I am sure without the wind you both would have been quicker.
TJB - I was giving you a big cheer as you crossed the line. I would have stood up and cheered you but the legs weren't working.
I know the WHO are probably more worried about the chance of Ebola mutating to an airborne virus, but when they get 5 minutes perhaps they research how DrD's manflu managed to mutate over the internet and bring me down with a cold and temperature yesterday. At one stage last night I decided not t run but then decided as may as well give it a go and see what happens.
Full race report later but I finished in 2:58:36. Happy with time considering my cold and the wind. I noticed early on my HR higher than expected and on the 2nd laps when it seemed even more gusty up the hill, I decide to ease of the gas and run a sub 3.
Ryan it depends which way the wind blows. The course is mostly on country lanes with bits on footpaths. I suspect miles 7 and 9 (and on 2nd lap 17 and 19?) Will feel most exposed. They are both slightly up hill and fairly straight heading south iirc. After mile 9 there is a bit round the corporate park/estate, after this you turn and head north again. So for last 5 miles we may have the wind behind us or not in front at least.