Earlier this year I tore a muscle in my foot. This was particularly annoying because:
1. It hurt
2. It was two weeks before I was due to run in Stratford-upon-Avon marathon, a key part of my build up for Ironman Austria.
As it was I showed great maturity at not being able to run in the marathon by going cycling for 4 hours in the opposite direction on race day and refusing to talk to any of my team mates about their various PBs on the day. The gits. The lack of a marathon this year though has been an itch that needed to be scratched, which is why I decided I would give Nottingham Marathon a go, this time as part of my build up for Ironman Florida.
I’ve never run around Nottingham before (unless you count being chased by a load of Forest fans back in the mid 80s) so I had no idea what to expect when I lined up with several thousand others for the Robin Hood Marathon last week. However my training has been going well and for once not only did I feel like a runner, I also looked like a runner thanks to all the splendid Pearl Izumi running kit that had arrived in a box some weeks before. To be honest I had been waiting for an excuse to use some of my new running toys in anger so I was be-decked in running vest, shorts and shoes all from Pearl Izumi, not to mention a hat which bears the legend “Run like an animal.” Quite which animal I run like has been the source of some debate among my friends, with suggestions ranging from sloth, snail and one-legged duck to giraffe and retired greyhound. Anyway, for those of you considering Nottingham Marathon as a race to try – do. It’s great. And for those of you considering Pearl Izumi running kit to buy – do. It’s great.
The combination of great course and great kit combined to help me achieve a new personal best of 2:56:53 – a PB by 10 minutes and my first sub-3 hour marathon. Training up and down hills like a lunatic may also have had something to do with it, but mostly I put it down to the kit. As usual I set off too fast. It was a mixed marathon/half marathon start so I was pulled along by the pace of the half-marathoners and ran the first mile in 6.23. “Calm down” I told myself. I ran the second mile in 6.40. “Easy tiger” I told myself. I ran the third mile in 6.45. “You f****g idiot” I told myself. Anyway I was feeling good so I pushed on and managed to hold a 6.50 pace for miles 4, 5, 6 etc.
The course cruelly took us within yards of the half marathon finish before peeling off for lap two, and I reached the halfway point in 1.26 thinking “hmmmm – this is probably all going to go wrong soon”. The crowds thinned out dramatically for the second half of the run but I kept up the 6.50s and I was somewhat pleased to reach the 20 mile mark in 2.11, which would have been a PB for that distance too and had me thinking “hmmmm – this is probably all going to go wrong soon”.
By this point we reached the lake at Holme Pierrepoint, scene of the National Triathlon Relays, and it was like being in some freaky alternative universe running the other way around the lake. By mile 21 I was trying (and failing) to work out the maths in my head of whether I could beat 3 hours if the wheels didn’t come off. This continued for miles 22, 23 and 24 and it wasn’t until mile 25 that I worked out that I had a bit of time in hand. This also coincided with the first signs of trouble as my time slowed to 7.19 for the mile. However with 200 yards to go not even a bunch of rampaging Forest fans would have stopped me and I crossed the line in a happy and somewhat surprised frame of mind. This may account for what I did next, which may yet see me end up on some sort of register…
In the morning before the race I’d left my car in the designated parking area, which it so happened was right next to a children’s playground. On returning to my car I began the usual ritual of getting my sweaty kit off and getting my skins and dry clothes on. This was complicated by performing this feat inside the car, and also involved me picking congealed jelly babies from my shorts pocket and lobbing them out the window. In a moment of sudden clarity it occurred to me that I was sitting in a car, naked from the waist down, throwing sweets out of my window at a children’s play area…. I quickly fought a pitched battle with my Skins to get them on my legs as fast as possible and screeched out of the car park like a getaway driver. If this turns out to be my last blog you’ll know that the phrase “It’s not what it looks like Officer” didn’t work.