My 5th York Marathon. My 5th year of running (properly); 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
My 20th official marathon distanced event. So a pretty iconic rounded figure in all.
I’ve run every York Marathon since the event started, and improved year on year. I’ve enjoyed it more every single year.
I wouldn’t say in that time, that I’ve become a better runner, faster or stronger. I think I would be wrong in saying that. But I think I would be right in saying I’ve become more practiced, more experienced in the marathon and more confident to throw myself around the course as I see fit on the day. The key for me, high mileage. As it always has been! Practice, practice, practice. Just like learning to play the piano or the guitar. It’s a skill, isn’t that all running is. I haven’t mastered it yet. I am way off, will probably never master it. But I can try and get as close as possible to getting there.
Training for York Marathon has been lower than what I was running previously in the year. 110 Mile weeks, somewhat lower than my 170’s. But speed work thrown in and some better quality miles, in my eyes. Not long runs but lots of short runs, whenever I can fit it in. Hull Marathon was a build up run, in my eyes. A confidence builder to see if I could do the distance off of shorter run training. I did and felt relatively strong. Filling me with confidence for the task in hand. I would be lying if I was to say a goal this year wasn’t to break the 2:40 barrier. Because it definitely was. I thought my chances of doing so had now passed. I run worse usually in the second half of the year so give up on PB’s. My best chance was to have been Manchester or Milton Keynes. That had now been and gone. Initial plan in August, to run Hull. See where I am. Enjoy York if needs be. But run it anyway. I thought my training was off of par. But after Hull like I said, it filled me with confidence and set my sights on a secret 2:40 attempt. Didn’t wanna voice it though!
The first week after Hull I recovered well, shook my cough and cold. Slight cough remained but bearable. Missed speed training that week, but went to Cusworth last weekend. Finished in 4th in a sub 36 time. Tried it at a ‘marathon’ pace. But was probably a little too quick! A great local race either way and obviously would be one not to miss. I ran home from Cusworth afterwards clocking 14 mile, on some of the deadliest roads going, and 21 for the day.
The week in build up to York my cough and cold seemed to have returned with a slight vengeance, making the speed training on Wednesday night brutal work! Every other run at a slower pace was also tough, I was achey and tired, body praying for me to stop. But this streaking lark has taught me not to. Lacing up and getting out. Once your out it’s even harder to stop. Top end speed lately has been a bit of a struggle I haven’t dipped under 18 at parkrun in a while. I know I can do it but it’s a strange one because I can’t knock up to the next gear at the minute, but over the longer stuff where I don’t need the top end gear all the time, I am fine. But even so, I just tootle around Barnsley parkrun, or what feels like it anyway. It may not look it sometimes. I also reintroduced Headtorch evening runs with Yates and anyone else who joins in. Running the Boundary Leg 1 on Tuesday night. We’ve decided from now on, we’re going to run them but in reverse direction to mix it up and also because I’ve my sights on the Boundary challenge again next year.
Onto the actual marathon then. A marathon day it was to be as well! I went to bed relatively early for me on Saturday night, feeling a little bit better than I had earlier in the week. Scott, Shaun and Harry can vouch for how bad I performed at speed on Wednesday night! In my head I hoped that I managed to shake it, breathing had settled to somewhat normal and blocked nose, cough had hopefully disappeared. The Lighthorseman was our residence for the night. A pub on Fulford Road into York. Room was quite nice but the bed not so much, tossing and turning my way through the night. Feeling slightly worse every time I woke up. Waking up at 7.15 for a 9.30 start. When I was younger I had a pretty bad spell of Glandular Fever. I woke up on the day of the marathon, glands all swollen up and eyes feeling extremely heavy. Tiredness, but it hurts to swallow! I haven’t had this feeling since Hull or prior to Hull. Hoping I hadn’t picked up another illness, I straight away popped a soother in and it seemed to sort it. For now. Went for a shower in a shower that resembled something out of a fun house, slanted base to make sure the water ran to the plug hole, but hurting my calves so much. Like getting showered on a hill. Anyway set off at 8.15 for a 1.5 mile walk to the start line. Great warm up.
Getting there and dropping my bag off at the baggage and then making our way to the start line. Just felt a buzz around the marathon completely, running into two old university lecturers in the form of David Ridley and James Sabiston before getting into my starting area. And then seeing plenty of runners that I know from loads of various races. Steve Melber, Simon Lambert, Steve Head, Stephen Maddison, Tim Baker and Simon Scully, . That’s right they all begin with an ‘S’ apart from Tim of course. Just felt great on the start line, but my breathing hadn’t actually improved and throat felt sore! Dickie Bird on the start podium, wonder how many marathons he’s run? Time ticking down, people asking me my target kept it close but said I was setting off at 2:45/2:50 pace and seeing what’s happening and then building into it. That didn’t happen. 9.30 came around pretty quick.
And we were off, for those that’s ever ran York, it’s a downhill start. A quick one at that. I set off, at the back of everyone I previously spoke to. That’s slower isn’t it? I managed to settle in for a bit with Simon Lambert, who was also targeting 2:40. Just in front of the first female athlete who from experience at York usually finishes around 2:45. Pace felt relatively easy but breathing a challenge. Before I knew it though 1 mile down and clocked it at 5:50. I joked with Simon saying that before we know it we’d have run a 4 minute mile together! But I was pleased with that. But it’s the first mile, anything could happen! I knew for sub 2:40 I needed miles to be around 6 minutes. That’s all I had in mind. I packed Jakemans in my back pocket again, but didn’t wanna peak too soon, but breathing was such a challenge. I got out now towards the minster, left Simon and had Tim Baker and Stephen Maddison in front of me. Leaving them there for the time being. York Marathon isn’t actually in York that much, straight away your out on an adventure to Stamford Bridge. It’s a long wind to get there where there’s a lot of spectators. It can be a lonely marathon in truth, it’s you and the road. I did peak pretty soon when it came to the sweet, 4 mile but maybe that sugar kick then and the easing of breathing that it brought was to be a reason I felt good or bad in the second half. Who knows? On the lonely trek out passing the priest who stands there every year, miles ticking with ease.
Legs not feeling like they’re doing much, slowly catching the runners in front of me, probably in about 30th place or over at this point. Still in front of First Lady, approaching the 10k split marker for it to say 33:55 as I went through it! Shit, I’ve set off too quick, a little reassurance from the watch showed something over 37 minutes. Clock wrong, not me. Wonder how many people that will worry today. Still have the Jakemans sweet in, water taken at every station so far. Gradually catching Tim Baker, only to pass him and tell him, he’s looking strong and he was. My breathing struggled to say that. Relaxed up one of the only climbs on the course. To eventually catch Stephen Maddison just before Stamford Bridge. This is the Half way point, clocking through there at 1:18:46.
So really quite happy with that, not my quickest half marathon in a marathon, but well paced and I still felt good. This is where my race started now. In my head, I knew I had 1:21 to run in the second half. If I was to meet my goal. I knew that was achievable if I could hold this feeling. This feeling being great! I was gradually catching runners in front, now on the long out and back section of the marathon. Stamford Bridge to a little way beyond Dunnington. Then back to Dunnington before hitting those deadly last 6 Miles. It’s ever so undulating this bit, and sometimes hard to keep a great rhythm. And this bit before you double back on the others is boring and long. From Stamford Bridge to Dunnington it’s about 3 Miles of being on your own. Only having other suffering runners for company. But I was running alone here, no one around me for a chat, no one close enough. A 5:53 where I had support soon dropped to 6:03, 6:03, 6:02 where I didn’t. Monotonous, tedious Miles. In hindsight I’m surprised with the consistency in those splits! Reaching Dunnington, still not seeing the lead runners on the return leg of their journey. Must’ve meant I was close to the front, and the first time I looked at my ‘predicted’ Finish time. 2:39:00. Is it really a possibility? Mile 17 and still going strong, destined for a sub 2:40 if I can. 2nd sweet in, a surprising 13 mile out the first! Eventually seeing front runners between 17-18 roughly a mile or so in front of me. Then being told I’m holding 13th place. With my sights on 3 runners to keep me going. Turn around mile 18. Back home now. Cheering on the others that are right behind me. Seeing the long slogs taking place. Before hitting Dunnington and then splitting for the last 6 Miles. This is where the marathon began for me. I went into mile 20 feeling fresh and for the first time ever, I didn’t feel alone. I used the buzz from the start, the support I’ve had from every single individual in the past, switched off my pain; gritted my teeth and bared down on those in front. Taking each mile at a time, because anything could happen. Mile 20, 6:02. Thereabouts and then the game began. Then came the dream, my quickest mile of the race, 5:50; slightly quicker than my opening mile. I didn’t know this at the time, as I glided past the 3 I had been chasing down. To leave 2 of them and one to keep the pace with me. Making a competitive charge to the Finish, encouraging each other in the process. Merging with the 10 mile runners made a difficult challenge harder, as they weaved their way around the course. For the marathoners to break their way through. But thankful for the extra support along the way. 5k to go. Very nearly there. Holding on but I wasn’t alone. Not no more. This bit felt easy! I found my second wind, psychologically performing better than I’ve ever performed before. I felt like I was being pushed and pushed, like I could thrash myself towards the line.
One small climb to go before descending down into the Finish. Seeing Tracy and David snapping photos and cheering on the side!
I managed to cross the line in
Completely overwhelmed and gobsmacked, not being able to hold myself back. It meant everything to me. Going to hide around a corner for a little bit to calm myself down and hold it together. Before going on and glancing back and seeing my dad shout on me on the bridge, giving him a wave. Collected my medal and bag; also an alcohol free pint.
My Nipple had seen better days!
A sub 2:40 Marathon. Goal for the year achieved. Elated and overjoyed with that.
The second half of the marathon I clocked a 1:19:03. With a 1:18:46 first half. Does that class as an even split?
Strava Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/1220631313
From when I started this blog writing and posting, originally it was for me to recall the feelings, the experience of the race on the day. Currently in my family as a whole, I and We have recently had a relative, my Uncle. My Mums brother diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. If you don’t know what it is, or you do, it’s a true bitch. Initially thought to be a stroke, but his rapid deterioration and lack of recovery means it’s MND. For me it means it’s an Uncle who when I grew up was there for me and I spent a lot of my younger days in his presence. Of whom I have a lot to thank for. With my Uncle John and Auntie Sheila. Along with spending time with their son, my cousin, Kevin. Seeing my Uncle John’s strength through the process and his care, pride and passion towards everything throughout life, is something that I certainly hold close. He is a true gent, a considerate and caring man. Someone who I do love very much! For me on Marathon day, at York. I used that, I tried to harness it. I didn’t feel alone in the last 6. Because in some strange manner, I felt him with me. Just like at Milton Keynes I always feel my Nan with me. As runners and people, we’re either scientific and believe the training is be all and end all. Sometimes I think that, but it’s moments like this that makes me think otherwise. It puts things into perspective and makes you want to grasp every single opportunity, throw your fear against the wall and smash right through it. So when I looked at my predicted Finish time. I knew I didn’t have the time to fade. That I had to take it and run with it, literally. Just knowing that you’ve got to fight for every last moment.
My 20th Marathon, is it about the training? Maybe that’ll get you there.
Just Keep Running!