I need to talk about this graph because it’s troubling me. It is, as they say, problematic. The graph is my pacing from the MK Marathon and you can see where I hit the wall. That’s the metaphorical wall, by the way, and not, as I used to think when I was younger watching Peter Duncan talk about his London Marathon experience on Blue Peter, a real wall. I’ve been trying to work out what happened.
Maybe I didn’t do enough training? Sure I ran more than I’ve ever run before this year but I only did half as much mileage in the last month as I intended to and I didn’t do quite as many long runs as I had planned. I didn’t even run over 3 hours once and maybe I should have done, for mental reasons if not physical. Something paid off though because Half Marathon PB.
Did I go off too fast? I averaged something like 7:45 mins per mile for the first 16 miles – 10-15 seconds quicker than I wanted to be and found it tricky keeping my pace in check. (This was not helped by setting off with the Half Marathon runners). I don’t know if that took too much out of me because I don’t have enough datasets to plot pretty points in a line but I can’t help wondering whether I could have pushed on for longer if I had. Or maybe I need to re-read some of Stuart Mills theories about positive splits.
Despite there being only about 180 ft between the lowest part of the course and the highest part, the MK course was deceptively hilly. It’s all those underpasses and those sharp, 15ft decents and ascents that sap the strength from your quads. Sure, from a distance they look flat but when you’re up close, they make their presence felt. Sure they start off feeling like a cute little undulation but after a while, they feel more like K2.
I had a target but I mostly kept it to myself. I was going for 3:30 but when people asked me, I was reluctant to tell them and gave an apologetic caveat – something about being happy with 3:45. Guess even before the race, I’d given myself permission to not have to push hard. Made it easier to accept not being able to hold the pace so I could ease up and still hit a target time. Not the time I wanted but the time I deserved or something. And yes, it was a realistic-ish target. Jack Daniels (not the drink) said so.
I either took too many gels and made myself feel sick or not enough and didn’t have enough energy. Or I got it right. I don’t know – it was the first time I’d run with them. More data needed. Didn’t feel like I lacked in energy though as it was my muscles that hurt. That sick feeling at the end needs to be sorted out though.
I don’t really know what went wrong – it was probably a combination of all those factors or maybe something else entirely. Enough to tweak and practice for the next time. Let’s face it, effectively this was the first marathon I’ve run with intent. I’ve read a lot of the theory but I don’t have the experience to know which bits I need to apply and which to ignore. I’m still pleased with the result – I just know there’s room for improvement.