Posted: 30/08/2015 at 16:02
I've finally had a chance to write a report on the Donegal Marathon.
I'm running four marathons within a 9 week period and I have a goal to run all of them within 3 hours. Donegal was the first of these and being a hilly course and only having 7 weeks training after an 11 day drinking holiday, I knew it would be tough enough. The winner last year ran about 2:55 and was the only sub 3 so I thought I might have a chance of a podium place too.
I had run a 1:20:07 half marathon PB the weekend before so wasn't fully tapered. Typical Irish weather on the morning of the marathon with it absolutely chucking it down. It rained hard for over an hour before easing off and stopping completely by the time I finished. The rain kept us cool but I did end up with serious chaffing at the tops of my thighs that took about 4 days to heal. Nasty.
There was a half marathon starting the same time following the same course for 13 miles. This was good in one sense as there were more people to run with but also meant I had no idea of my place. My plan was to run about 6:40 - 6:45 pace early on and see how I felt after 20 miles. I was going to decide then if I would push on hard or take it easy over the last few miles. Anything around 21 minutes per 5k would be good.
There were about 100 people in the marathon and 500 in the half marathon. At 9:20 am the race began and about 50 people began pulling away. We went through Letterkenny before turning back through the town and heading off west into the countryside for two big laps.
I completed the first 5k in 20:27 with an average HR of 143 and felt very relaxed. The next 5k split was 20:51 and there was a steady uphill section for about 5 miles before getting it all back in 2 miles. This wasn't great for the quads but I went through the next 5k splits in 20:44 and 20:40 and still feeling great.
My HR was averaging around 143 which was nice and low. I caught a guy who was running the full marathon and we ran together for a few miles chatting. Nice bloke. He started to drop back a bit and I continued catching the odd runner. I took a glance at their numbers passing as it was the only way I could see if they were in the half or the full marathon. I overtook two more full marathon runners over the next few miles
Just before half way my family were cheering me on and shouted I was in 4th place. I went through half way in about 1:28 with the next 5k taking 21:15. With the half marathon runners finishing the road completely cleared up ahead but I couldn't see how far I was behind 3rd place.
I reached 30k with a split of 21:26 and my legs were now feeling heavy. My breathing was controlled and my HR was about 142, but I was battling the negative thought demons in my head. Then on a straight section I saw a few runners away ahead in the distance. I timed when we both passed a parked van and discovered I was about 1:30 behind.
After a few more corners I started seeing more people that I was catching but then realised it was people I was lapping. Damn, it was going to be hard to know how far I was behind 3rd place. I didn't have the legs to push on too hard but was confident I could maintain my pace and hoped 3rd would struggle late on. I view a marathon as a 20 mile warm-up before a tough 10k race.
I ran another 21:26 5k split and passed my family again around 22 miles. They told me I was still 4th and on a straight could see two people about a minute ahead. We were running through Letterkenny which was not part of the earlier loop so anyone ahead was in the marathon.
After 23 miles I rounded a corner and saw the two people only about 30 seconds ahead. We were approaching a few tough hills which I actually looked forward to as I felt strong. I started dreaming of second place as I closed but noticed that one seemed to be coaching the