I'm writing this almost a month since race day, I've had plenty of time to reflect on the race but first let's back up a bit.
The training started about 10 weeks before (of course I'm always doing somewhere between 30 and 50 miles a week), however with 10 weeks to go I had renewed focus and started to plan each weeks training again. By focusing on a race and planning my training this way I find it helps me stick to the schedule and ultimately run better.
The idea was to do a rolling three weeks over a 10 week period (each 3rd week would be a recovery week) as follows:
Most weeks consisted of a tempo/threshold run up to 10 miles, some sort of speed work (reps), a middle distance long run midweek week, a weekend long run and then some easy miles to make up the volume.
For the most part training went well. This was confirmed with better race results (discounting Leven 10k when I was clearly poorly) including a 5k PB (18:19) at the Phil Johnson 5k.
Right, enough about training. Race week arrived and as Katy was doing the full Marathon we had decided to travel down the day before. The idea being to arrive at the hotel by 5pm giving us plenty of time to eat and chill out for the evening (it was the same time as the Euro's so we'd have football to watch).
However things don't always go to plan and barely out of Hull something came of the back of a truck as it turned up the Humber Bridge slip road off the A63 resulting in a very cracked windscreen. Luckily I was able to pull into the next Petrol Station. After several calls, and an hour and half wait we were towed back to Hertz on Anlaby Road. Another hour later and another hire car we were finally back on the road. After leaving our house at 12pm and although driving down at rush hour (which we had hoped to avoid) we arrived in Milton Keynes just before 8pm. On the plus side we got there in times to for the football (and to watch Wales beat Belgium).
After a decent night's kip we had a short drive to Caldecotte Lake arriving at 8am which meant plenty of time to set up camp and chat to all the local runners while waiting for the 9am start for the marathon. I wouldn't be racing until 2.30pm so I was on Team White duties for the next 4 to 5 hours. I won't go into the details of Katy's race as you can read her write-up. All I will say is I was extremely proud of her completing her first marathon.
Ok fast forward to 2.30pm, after 600 miles over the last 10 weeks it all came down to this. I had two targets:
I knew the loop well after doing 8 and half laps last year. These races never have a deep field therefore it would probably be a lonely run and I'd have to run it like a time trial.
I made sure I was at the front setting off at 6.20 per mile pace. A 2.5 mile section would bring us past the support area and the start of the loop. So far so good, pace was pretty much spot on but as suspected I was out on my own.
At the end of the first loop, "Foxy" said something along the lines of "you've got this". However I wasn't feeling great and struggling to stay on pace. I was unsure of my gap to second and didn't want to take anything for granted. Anyway the real race for me was against the clock.
The original idea was to try and get faster each loop. the reality was I was progressively losing time, instead of increasing my pace by 5 to ten seconds the opposite was happening. It didn't help that the second half of the loop takes you past the Watersports Centre. This section was particularly windy and I now why they do windsurfing there!
By the final loop I knew any chance of sub 85 was gone. Now it was a war of nutrition and just try and keep a decent pace.
Thankfully I was only doing the half. A gruelling last loop and I was done in 1 hour 25 minutes and 53 seconds later. At the time I was disappointed, however having plenty of time to reflect it was my 3rd fastest half. Also it was run entirely on my own which is never the easiest thing to do.
The best thing about the race was seeing all the support (especially Katy enjoying a well earned rest) every lap, the stunning scenery and watching the other runners come in. A special mention to Sara Morrow and Helen and Jamie Penn from KuHAC who were also racing.
For me the focus now shifts to the Manchester Half in October with the small matter of the Gilberdyke 10 and The Major Stone Half as key build up races in my preparation.