One week down the proverbial road and I’ve had chance to reflect on my first marathon experience so I thought I might share these thoughts.
On the race itself
I maintain that the weather conditions were probably the major factor. The newspaper interview with the winner also mentioned the conditions as a major factor (he mentioned a planned 2:24 but actually won in just under 2:31). Probably not so much the cold but the combination of cold and wet really saps the strength – a really big lesson learned.
On the distance
I underestimated the effort definitely. Having completed numerous half-marathons I didn’t think the difference would be too huge in overall effort terms. But as the famous saying regarding children goes “two is more than double the trouble” and this is certainly the case with the marathon. Whilst I completed a number of training runs in the 2:30 range, I think next time I might go for a couple of longer run, maybe three hours or so.
On the running surface
I do most of my running off road and over hilly terrain. The marathon itself was flat and ridiculous as it might seem I missed the “relief” of occasional downhill stretches. Also running on tarmac for over three hours is probably the main reason I still have some calf stiffness after a week. I think the answer here is training specificity and next time I will probably try and include some more tarmac work.
One the pace
I figured I was easily in sub 3:30 pace, but my opening 10k and half marathon put me in the 3:15 bracket. Given that and the conditions I probably committed the classic error or going off too fast – and how did I pay for that? Caution should have been the order of the day especially given the mild infection I had in the week before.
Other factors that had an impact was the fact that I chose to use my camelbak for carrying drinks, in fact there was plenty of drinks stations and I didn’t actually take a drink from my own supply until almost 40k, other than that it was just an increasingly irritating burden.
But I have to reflect that this time last year – as a 30 a day smoker – I could barely run 2.6 miles never mind 26. I should also reflect that as recently as April I set a time for the half marathon of 1:36, hardly a lot faster than that which I achieved for the first half of the marathon.
PS I am a desperately sad bloke for stats so here are some interesting (not!) figures.
Of 1,140 male runners only 69 ran a negative split.
On average each runner ran the final 16.5km 9 minutes and 36 seconds slower than the 16.5 km before that.
I was in 232 position at 10k and 282 position by 26,5k but finished in 491st, losing over 200 places over the last 16.5k
In percentage terms I was the 1,050 th worst runner over the last 16.5k (based on slowing)
Of the 232 people who were ahead of me at 10k only 6 finished behind me.