Cobbles & Red Wine - Sarah’s Paris Marathon Plan: Sub 3:35



  • Evening Steve Marathon Coach!!

    Going to the Dorney Lakes results page and looking it up is cheating you know …! image

    Glad it was ok … I didn’t know whether I was going to be a bit told off for picking up the pace a bit at the end.

  • Evening AW!

    Fab to hear from you! Thanks for the congrats! Hope it all goes really well for you this weekend at the Spitfire 20!! We missed you this weekend – we all said we wished you were there too!!

  • Evening Minni!

    Oh that’s fantastic! That’s really reassuring … 3:30 still sounds so quick to me! How’s the training going with Sarah O? She sounds as though she’s doing so, so well! And her latest half result was amazing!

  • Evening CailinAgRith!

    Fab to hear from you! Thank you! image

    Are you tempted to have a go at another half marathon? I found my first half quite difficult and didn’t really like it but the ones since have been quite enjoyable as I haven’t had to go flat out and there’s time to have a look around and see what’s going on. Or maybe that’s just me being nosy! image

  • Week 9, Day 6

    Goal: Dorney Lakes Half Marathon

    First 3 miles at 7:55, 7:45, 7:40 then final 10 at 7:20 – 7:25 min/mile

    Dorney Lakes was about 85 miles from me so I’d decided to book into a hotel to save having to drive an hour and a half on the morning of the race. The race didn’t start until 10am so a lie in and a leisurely breakfast sounded amazing. I have terrible pre-race nerves so having one less thing to worry about would be good.


    Mel liked the idea too and we booked into a Travelodge just down the road from the race venue and we travelled down separately. We arranged to meet up for dinner at 7pm for a catch up and chatter. Texted Mel and we both decided to meet in the hotel lobby. 15 minutes later and I’m still standing there … where is she? I get a text from Mel. We’re both waiting in the lobby in the hotel. But the hotels are 20 miles apart. She’s in Slough Traveleodge, I’m in Maidenhead Travelodge. Thank God Asics are arranging Paris travel and accommodation for us. We’d never get there.


    I couldn’t work out the kit I wanted to take and what to leave. So I compromised and took everything. I ended up taking a rucksack, a running belt, a handbag plus a large suitcase on wheels. Well … at least if a piece of running kit broke, I‘d have (about 3) spares …

    I slept really well and had an entire double bed on my own to stretch out in. Bliss. A leisurely shower and porridge - pre-measured by me the day before and put into a plastic bag with sugar. Can’t say I’m not taking this pre-race prep seriously! Dried hair and got an electric shock from the hairdryer! So long as the jolt of electricity gives me a boost for the race …


    I got all organised and packed up. Rucksuck on the bag, handbag slung around my shoulders, running belt around my middle and suitcase dragging on behind. Got out of the door – which slammed behind me – and my tummy gave an ominous rumble. Dashed back into room and running belt off, handbag unslung, rucksack off and suitcase abandoned in the middle of the room. A hotel room loo MUCH preferable to a portaloo at the race venue … and I did not want to have to pack loo roll for THIS long run.




    The satnav directed me perfectly to Dorney Lakes, but far from the perfectly organised parking at most venues we were directed to park along the sides of the road. Apparently the car parks were mainly underwater. Oh well. Better to park along the side of the road than to come back after the race and find the car floating peacefully down the river …

    Texted Mel, Shady Ady and Bacon Steve who were all also running this one. It was great to catch up … even if we did all look like a matching set with our pink and blue T-shirts. At least we’d be able to spot each other easily in a crowd. Or a race. Mel, Ady and Steve were all going for PBs and had a specific time they wanted to beat.



  • Steve Marathon Coach knew full well that I have a bad habit of going off far too fast and then paying for it and this race was to be an exercise in pacing. He’d asked me to start off the first 3 miles slowly and build the pace. He had suggested 7:55 min/mile, 7:50, 7:45 and then sit in the goal range of 7:20 – 7:25 min/mile.



    I started off with Ady as we thought we’d probably be aiming for a similar end pace of 7:20 ish. It was so difficult to keep my pace slow as he and everyone else streamed past me in the first starting-gun rush. I felt as though I was moving backwards, but when I checked my Garmin I was already doing a 7 min/mile which was well outside the pace I wanted. It just highlighted to me how easy it is to get swept up in the first rush and get carried away. It had felt as though I was barely moving but I was almost a minute a mile quicker than I’d wanted to be. Eek! Brakes on!


    It was a pancake flat course around a rectangular lake and each lap was about 5k long so it was a great course to pace yourself and you knew exactly where you were at all times as you could easily see the other sides of the lake and work out how many laps and miles you had left. I kept the first 3 miles very steady at 7:45, 7:40 and then 7:35 just increasing the speed by a steady 5 seconds each mile.




    It was a relief to be able to increase the speed to 7:20 min/mile and because the route was so flat and predictable it was an easy pace to maintain. I ran with a chap for about a mile at about mile 8 and he paced me quite well – just over the pace I was aiming for - was why the pace increased a little bit, but he disappeared just as we came up to the main building again. I did briefly consider waiting … but it wasn’t quite in the spirit of a race so I carried on. I DID feel a bit mean though. 


    I was taking a gel every 3 miles as recommended by Ruth so I did this as I passed the main building as it was a big landmark and I didn’t have to think about the mile markers. Gels were available on the course but they weren’t the brand I’d trained with so I’d carried the ones I wanted.


    This all went perfectly to plan until the final gel which I squeezed a little too hard and it ended up in my left eye, hair and all over my face. There wasn’t a lot I could do about it although an older chap spectating though it was highly amusing. I was just relieved it wasn’t mid-summer as I’d have been followed by a cloud of flies and wasps around the remainder of the course. Might have been good for a PB though. Nothing like being chased by an angry swarm of wasps to add a bit of an incentive to your speed. Maybe a tactic to consider if I start slower down at Paris …


     I decided that as I’d been so good so far, I’d speed up the last 3 miles just a little bit … again by just 5 seconds a mile. I was having so much fun, I decided that the last mile should be a good one and ran it at just under a 7 min/mile. I could see the red bridge in the distance and I knew that the finish was just over that.


    I was overtaken by a young chap in a grey top just as I cam e over the bridge. He’d been hovering at my shoulder ready to overtake me and he pulled away slightly towards the finish. What

  • What happened to ‘ladies first’? Stride lengthened, arms came up, and the sprint for the finish started. Over the line in 1:35:42. And I beat the bloke in grey. Well and truly chicked.


    P.s. Check out the speed of the final 0.1 J



    Time: 1:35:42.0           

    Distance: 13.10           

    Average Pace: 7:19 min/mile


    Mile Splits

    1. 7:43 min/mile

    2. 7:40 min/mile

    3. 7:36 min/mile

    4. 7:19 min/mile

    5. 7:20 min/mile

    6. 7:20 min/mile

    7. 7:20 min/mile

    8. 7:17 min/mile

    9. 7:19 min/mile

    10. 7:17 min/mile

    11. 7:11 min/mile

    12. 7:11 min/mile

    13. 6:55 min/mile

    0.1 4:57 min/mile


    Garmin Info Here

  • Week 9, Day 7:

    Goal: 8 - 10 miles Malvern Hill run

    Actual: 9 - 10 mile run around the streets of Rugby ... not quite as interesting!


    Unfortunately I couldn't make the Malvern Hills run this morning, but instead settled for a trot around Rugby.

    1 pub stop (for loo rather than beer)

    1 other runner encouraged to run up a hill with me

    1 lap of the town

    1 giant protein milkshake when I got home

    1 creme egg eaten (shhh! Don't tell Ruth)

  • Brilliant , I bet you was well happy with that , also surprised at how more comfortable it was compared to your other half marathon races. What do you think helped you the most?
  • Whoops forgot to post this pic ... This was the sprint for the line!!


     Yep ... he got chicked!

  • RRR

    Well done on PB!! Sorry for delay on congratulations (I was away for weekend and no technology with me other than basic phone).   

    The carb loading was fine, you ate way more carbs than usual so very happy with thisimage.I did not think you would eat a baked potato but this is a great choice and dinner also fine, you did great. If I am honest I did not think you would  manage that much (as not used to it) so well done.

    Having the gels every 3 miles was not necessary for this race but I wanted this practised really well for Paris so well done  on doing this and feel confident this will work well in Paris for you. So pleased you stuck to the gels you use and not one's on race course.  

    The creme egg has a decent amount of carbs  so although not the best choice of carbsimage I think after this weekend of running you deserve it!

    Really this is a fabulous result and considering you felt you could run faster....

    Have a good few days.


  • Morning Derrick!

    I was really happy with the result especially as I wasn't specifically going for a PB. I think what made this half marathon easier was that I knew that I'd done much longer runs in training already - I was well aware that I could cover the distance easily. Also I've done a lot of speedwork in the training which made me aware that 7:20 was well within a speed I couuld manage. The marathon training has been very confidence boosting and it was nice being able to draw on this during this half. image

  • RRR- just popping in to say congrats on a pb, great racing! It looks like you kept on speeding up all the way and had quite a bit left in the tank at the end. Well done!image

  • MinniMinni ✭✭✭

    Loving that photo! image

  • Hi RRR, just dropped in to say great result and congrats on a shiny new PB! They're getting a bit two a penny among you lot this year image! Glad you all managed to meet up, too - it's a good boost to have a few buddies at the start and finish. See you at next training day.


  • Hi RRR

    Congrats on the new PB image  But even then you couldn't get round without incident - spraying gel all over yourself!  Are you hoping to improve your PB further at Silverstone?

    Will you use gels in other races, such as Silverstone & ultimately in Paris?  Is there an advantage to using gels over energy drinks where the latter are readily available in races and don't have to be carried from the start?

    Hopefully I don't have to be too concerned regarding my travel plans for Silverstone.  My wife intends dropping me off pre race and heading to Bicester Village for some retail therapy but I was concerned the Silverstone car parks would be entry only with no exit pre race (as they are for the grand prix) leaving either me with a long walk in or her stuck at Silverstone. Advice on another thread suggest there shouldn't be an issue.

  • another excellent description, report and photo. clearly you can go faster judging by your fast finish but it shows you can run still run fast with a controlled beginning.

    Conditions were obviously very good as normally very windy there and it's obviously superglat. Silverstone probably won't be as flat and will be lucky to get conditions as good but sure you can knock a few minutes off!

  • Hey RRR, once again a big well done on your new PB! Especially when you were holding back so much at the start... crazy stuff! You must be feeling great about Paris now.

    Can't wait for us all to catch up again in a couple of weeks - I'll be gunning for you at the 5k time trialimage

  • Afternoon Ruth!

    Thank you! image Hope you had a lovely weekend away!

    Yes – I definitely felt a bit uncomfortable after eating all that food on the Friday, but I felt fine during the race and all of the food should be easy to take to Paris or to find when I’m there so it’s looking good. I’ve got 22 miles this Sunday, so I’ll try the same fuelling this weekend and if it’s good then I’ll stick to that for Paris.

  • Afternoon Brolish!

    Thank you very much! It was a very nice surprise that my legs were comfortable maintaining that pace and speeding up …! Who knows maybe a new PB at Silverstone in a couple of weeks? Or is that wishful thinking? image

  • Afternoon Minni!

    Hee hee!! Thanks! No-one can say that I don’t take the sprint to the line seriously!  Not sure it’s a pic I’ll be framing for the wall, mind …image

  • Afternoon Sam!

    Thank you very much! Yep – you can’t say we aren’t motivated this year! image With three very close 5k and half marathon times, the bootcamp time trial is going to be good fun! It’s nice as we all get on really well … but there’s definitely some friendly competition!

    Thanks for the running tips at the 2nd bootcamp regarding stride efficiency … I’ve been practising these on my long runs and the more I practise the easier it gets. I’ve also been making sure that I relax my arms and shoulders more as Steve Marathon Coach suggested and it definitely feels more comfortable.

  • Afternoon Andy!

    Thank you! Yes … I seem destined to have ‘interesting’ runs!! image

    I’d like to get another PB at Silverstone, but it’s the day after the 3rd bootcamp training day so we’ll see how it all goes. That being said, I’d be disappointed not to …!

    I don’t know much about the advantages and disadvantages of gels vs energy drinks, but I find that gels are easy to carry (can stash 6 or 7 in my running belt if necessary) and just drink water. Whereas with an energy drink I’d either have to carry some the whole way or rely on the aid stations at a race carrying the particular drink I’d practised with. And hope they hadn’t run out when I got there!

    Ooh I have never been to Bicester village for shopping although one of my friends raves about it! I’d definitely rather be there shopping than supporting at a race!! The queues out from Silverstone after the Race For Life were terrible – stuck in the carparks for a LONG time as traffic management didn’t seem to be working, but this may well have been sorted out now.

  • Afternoon Bacon Steve!

    Well done on YOUR new PB too … can’t believe you were so close behind me! That was such an AMAZING amount of time to knock off your half marathon PB! You’re going to have to wear a bell at the Bootcamp time trial so I know when you’re catching me up!!

    Or maybe I’ll just trip you up on the way to the track …image

  • Hey hey,  Yes, no ditch, but some very muddy trainers after.  Glad I didn't take my shiny new ones out.  Could well have done since I never planned to leave roads/pavements, but hey ho!

    I'm so jealous of your new pb!!! I haven't had a pb for aaaaaaaaages.  Silly races all being cancelled last year image

    I'm hoping I can get 5 in a row this year... Colchester half, then I'm doing Orion 15 the following weekend (shhh don't tell anyone I've never done a 15 mile race before)...then the halstead marathon, then I'm doing the westminster mile (again don't tell anyone i never raced this distance) adn then the bupa 10k - can u believe that my first proper race i trained for was this one back in 2008, and I have never since beaten the time I set of 52:50.  I was running with my sister after she'd appeared on gladiators, so she was super fit- probably pulled me around!

    I think I should run with you- that would make me super speedy... (or muddy...from falling in a ditch image)


  • MalcsMalcs ✭✭✭

    Sarah - well done on your race. I can't believe how well you're all doing. I'm also quite reassured that the carbo loading was a struggle for you too image.

    Keep up the great work!

  • Afternoon Angela!

    So a planned pavement run went horribly wrong cross-country style!! image Who says running is boring??!

    Sounds like you’ve got some fab races planned for this year ... I’m sure there are some new PBs in there waiting for you too!! A nice mix of distances too! Which one are you looking forward to the most? Is the BUPA 10k the one in central London? Wow – your sister was on GLADIATORS?! How did she do?

    Hee hee!! Are you SURE you’d want to run with me? My runs always seem to be eventful! image

  • Afternoon Malcs!

    Thank you! Yep the carb loading was definitely a struggle! HUGE amounts of food were prescribed although I felt fine the morning. I was a bit worried on Friday though as I had visions of having to stop at a portaloo on every lap!

    You were carb loading too weren’t you? Was it for a race or was it in food-sympathy with me, Ady, Steve and Mel? A bit of moral support?image

  • Week 10 Schedule

    Mon Feb 18th: rest

    Tues Feb 19th: 4 x 2000 in 8-8:15 starting every 10 mins (9M in total) (6:26 min/mile or 15.4kmph)

    Weds Feb 20: 10M easy in 8:30 miles

    Thurs Feb 21st: 7M with 3M section in sub 7:15s

    Fri Feb 22nd: 5M easy or rest

    Sat Feb 23rd: parkrun 5k or 20-21 minute blast - 5M in total

    Sun Feb 24th: 22M long slow run: 8:30 to 8 minute miles

     Week total: 53-58M

  • Afternoon RRR

    Amazing that you're up to 22 miles already for your long run and still what 6 weeks to go? image

    Will you be aiming for another parkrun PB this Saturday?

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