It’s been roughly a year since my first blog post, this was the first race I ‘blogged’ about. Hull Marathon 2016. That race well executed strong in the last 6 mile, every marathoners dream. Clocking a strong finish into the line, 6th place 2:51 over taking and picking people off all throughout. Taking it steady to begin with and building up gradually. Just executed finely! Without meaning to be, it wasn’t a PB, it wasn’t a particularly nice course. But it was my best Marathon I believe to date. In terms of execution. I ran it that year in the build up to York, I ran it the year before to do the same. It seems to work well so why change it? This year though it’s a bit later in the ‘calendar’ so it’s an experiment to see if I’ll actually recover now!
The week I’ve had has seen me catch a little bit of man flu, cough, cold and a sore throat. Dosing up on cough medicine, throat numbing spray and so on! Packing some Honey and Lemon sweets as well as my usual lemon sherbet sweets for my marathon journey. Picking it up from kids in school again, I say it every year don’t I. With further Marathon plans coming up, I contemplated not running this weekend, but it was always going to be a steady jaunt around the city of culture. Target time sub 3 hour? But definitely not going out to smash a PB.
Aiming to get better by race day probably in hindsight made me much worse, with the worry of whether I’ll be better taking over and sacrificing a good nights sleep on more nights than one.
As always I like to prepare best for a marathon by staying over the night before. Probably more costly but make a weekend of it! Plus I don’t like 6 o’clock wake ups; not for me. So stayed over Zizzi’s for food the night before, quite nice really. Bed by 10, early night and hoping to get enough sleep to shake the cough. 9 o’clock start. So alarm set for 7.30.
Up on time and usual marathon morning rituals underway, porridge, nutella, not paid for breakfast in the hotel so some kettle boiled porridge will do. But I did have 2 of them. Penistone Vest today, I can’t find my blue t shirt and its given it to be hot. So I will be thankful for that later on today. Vaseline’d up, and off to the start line. 1.3 mile run/walk to the start making it at around 8:51. Phewww. Goodbyes said, ran straight down the funnel and was now around the front row. Lining up next to Rich Spooner of the Harriers, chatting away whilst all the pre race briefing and other stuff is being said. Voice and throat killing me!
9:00 right on time.
We’re off. The first mile that was going to tell me absolutely everything about what my race was going to be today, whether I’d struggle through coughing, or just take it easy or set off too quick. Who knows. I got in position and began my tour of the KCOM stadium before heading out towards everything Hull has to offer. The first mile did tell me a fair bit, no coughing but plenty of breathing but taking it in my stride and getting through it. Taking it in bit by bit. 6:12, a little bit quicker than a 3 hour marathon pace… but I felt alright and I think I’d have been able to hack this pace if my throat was better. But I knew today wasn’t my day so I slowed gradually to a 6:19 for mile 2 and worked to feel from there. My aim as always is to not fade in the last few miles to live the marathoners dream. Straight through the cobbly streets of Hull City centre, destination the Deep before looping off to East Park. I felt relatively strong and the miles came with ease, gradually picking off those that had set off too quick. Catching a runner who thought I was part of the relay in East Park. As he motivated me for the last 400 metres of their leg, I told him I was actually doing the marathon, I couldn’t speak because it was hurting my throat! First ‘Jakemans’ Honey and Lemon cough sweet in (I am not associated with them, nor do they endorse me); mile 7. I thought put it in early and hopefully it’ll save me later in the struggle; that it did. Venturing back now to the city centre. Still feeling rather strong and catching some relay runners my pace had settled now to a 6:18-6:25 a mile, not too shabby.
But the first half of this race is easy in comparison to the potentially lonely, windy and a lot of elevation that the second half can bring. Managing to catch the last of my relay target on the approach to the half way mark in pickering park, the last of the relay runners that I could see. He was sweating, showing me actually how warm it is today! Through the half way point in 1:23:35. Some way off of my recent half marathon performances. Now onto the Humber Bridge, they’ve done everything to feature this in the race, you literally run over one side, turn around and run back. Its so boring and it brings a hill! Climbing up to it, and it has a slight humpback. Its also so loooooooooonggggggggggg and did I mention its boring? In my youth days I would’ve been tortured by the height of it as well, but I think I’ve grown out of that now. They’ve changed the route this year as well, so its an out and back from mile 15-24 ish, meaning its not as lonely and gives you a kick when you need it. Ps. I’ve still got my Jakemans in at mile 15! Thats 8 mile that its survived. Mile 15 was a pretty big climb and featured my struggle in the race, having had 15 mile of flat. 6:49, in fact I hated the following 5 mile. Into an headwind over the bridge made it tough work and I began to fade a little bit. In truth I just got bored and lost a bit of motivation. Trying my best to kick but only for a few seconds before getting bored again. Jakemans gone, I rummaged in my pocket around mile 19, throwing 2 lemon sherbets and putting in the next lemon sherbet I found, I gave up on looking. Seeing the leaders on their way back just as I’m about the turn, they must not have been too far in front. Then I was passed by a relay runner. I had truly packed in by the time I was venturing back. Counting away at posts or pieces of the bridge, arches, looking around at cars and other runners on the other side. I had the wind behind my back that was the only positive. Mile 20 marker down.
Now this is where it begins. I could see the end of the bridge and had found a little motivation to kick. Picking up from my 6:45’s or more to a measly 6:32, its something. Sweeping away from the other runners on the way out going underneath the bridge and rejoining them. Seeing a man dressed as a telephone box! Then onto the downhill that I previously faded on and the 3 best miles of the race for me. Not on paper but Mile 22/6:27, 23/6:27 and 24/6:27. As Jonathan has commented, I found my groooove! New for 2017 they’ve also put in a timed 100 metres on the Costello Athletics track, which I ran in 20 seconds. I wasn’t up for the 100 metre sprint and didn’t change my speed for it. I’m a distance man, not a speed freak. Passed again by a relay runner who had his own support bike, bit like Rocky Balboa, do it on your own man! But into the last 2 mile now. With manflu! Run around the stadium, I’ve seen these roads before. Entering onto pitchside to finish relatively strong.
My 19th marathon and my 5th fastest to date. Not too shabby for a steady jaunt around the city of culture. Now onwards to see what I’ve got in me, in 2 weeks time. Further marathon plans as well for October, its going to be a great month!
My heart rate didn’t feel that high. But with the man flu, it could be true.
Strava Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/1199197549
Results Link: http://www.sportstimingsolutions.co.uk/rd.php?id=211
Rich Spooner managed a 12th place as well, with a 2:53:37 time.
As I mentioned right at the beginning, who’d have thought that this event was my first blog post a year ago. Just looking back and thinking of all the things I’ve achieved over the year and so has everyone else around, who knows where anyone of us could be in a years time or what we could have achieved.
Just Keep Running!