GFA near miss advice please!

Oh dear! So here's my sorry tail of woe! I have managed to run a sub 4 hour marathon twice in my life - a couple of years ago. Now I am 50, I decided to train hard again in an attempt to hit sub 4 - this time with a  view to getting a GFA for London 2019. Training for this time is not easy for me and has meant running alone (club runs regroup a lot) in order to hit time targets  in training. Everything was going well, and I had entered Manchester marathon as my qualifying race, hoping as it's flat I would have a chance. However, at mile 15 I started cramping in my calfs despite early ontake of electrolyte tabs and regular water sips. I still managed to keep going, but it was getting tight for time. I finished the race with a chip time of 4 hours and 20 seconds and was absolutely distraught. It meant so much to me and I had worked so hard for this. The most upsetting thing is that my pace was under the required overall pace to achieve the time - had the race been 26.2 miles. I needed to run 9:09 pace and I ended up running 9:06 pace. However, the race (or the lines I took in the race) amounted to 26.4 something, meaning that I lost out timewise. This is so hard to take. However, take it I must. I realise that all marathons need to make the race distance slightly over and it's impossible to totally follow the optimum route in a big race.
So...my question is this. Is it possible to recover enough in the next few weeks, to have another stab off the back of the same training? I'd like to - the thought of starting all over with training later in the year is not a nice one right now and I really want to tick this achievement off so I can get back into ultra running (not naturally fast, but can do long stuff) OR...do I not stand a hope, because by the time I'd recovered sufficiently to be able to attempt it again, my fitness will have dropped too low?
Has anyone been in the same situation and attempted it again after a short recovery?
Tagged:
«1

Comments

  • SHADESSHADES ✭✭✭
    Firstly I doubt very much the race distance was over 26.2 miles.   Read the info on your GPS, I have a Garmin and it says in the info that expect it to over measure and that's what mine does.   I expect my GPS to show a distance of 26.4, if I see less I would suspect a short course.  Unfortunately with your cramping you weren't able to make up those few extra seconds, it's tough and I'm sure you gave it your all.  Next time you need to factor in that you will probably run 26.4 on your GPS so amend your pace calculation accordingly.

    Recovering in time to have another go at your GFA is possible but something only you could know.  You have enough race experience to know how fast you recover from a marathon, I'm assuming you're back running now, short easy runs at the very least.  As you're an ultra runner you should recover quickly.   I don't know what the deadline is this year for GFA times, but another thing to factor in is that the weather is getting warmer so your next attempt maybe in 18-20 degrees, do you deal well with warmer conditions?

    Have you found a suitable marathon to do?

    I've run marathon PB's on consecutive weeks and I know others that have done the same so it can be done.
  • Why do folks still assume that a course is long because their GPS said so?  I know race organisers do get it wrong sometimes, but if your watch says you've run 10 miles and the 10 mile marker is 100m down the road, the odds are that the marker is the more accurate of the two.  Take splits manually at the markers, or get a pace band.

    Yes, you could recover and try again - effectively treating Manchester as just one long run in the plan towards the second one.  As Shades said though, it will be a warmer one unless you find one in Norway or somewhere, which won't help if you're prone to cramping.  There's only one way to find out!
  • purplepigpurplepig ✭✭✭
    Thanks for you responses. I did say that either the race was slightly over or I was unable to take the shortest route - which is quite normal in a big marathon with a fair bit of 'traffic'.  I was not criticizing the race in any way - or trying to make excuses for my inadequate performance. I guess 1 week later I'm still feeling a bit low about it.

    I was really hoping to hear from someone that might have been in a similar situation. Any positive, constructive advice out there?
  • SHADESSHADES ✭✭✭
    purplepig said:
    Thanks for you responses. I did say that either the race was slightly over or I was unable to take the shortest route - which is quite normal in a big marathon with a fair bit of 'traffic'.  I was not criticizing the race in any way - or trying to make excuses for my inadequate performance. I guess 1 week later I'm still feeling a bit low about it.

    I was really hoping to hear from someone that might have been in a similar situation. Any positive, constructive advice out there?

    I think this forum is littered with runners that just missed their target times, some by a little some by a lot, that's what happens in marathons.

    I'm not sure what you mean by constructive advice, are you back running, chosen another race?  You're still marathon fit, recover from last week ASAP and plan your next attempt.   I've already said that I and other runners I know have run PB's on consecutive weeks so of course it can be done.   However, you do need to find out what caused the cramps to ensure that doesn't happen again, it could be that the course was too flat for your liking, it's not uncommon to cramp on a very flat course where there's no change of cadence due to small undulations. 


  • purplepigpurplepig ✭✭✭
    Looking at my splits compared to a time when I managed the time needed, I think the cramp was the major factor, as my split times def were slightly under after that. I'm not sure what the reason can be though as I was taking on electrolytes/water early on and doubling my electrolyte tabs from half way. Maybe muscle fatigue - but I was well trained, and allowed a good taper for recovery. I get what you're saying about the flatness being a possible factor, but then again when I achieved it before I was doing loops on a flat airfield.
    Not sure what else I could do about cramps. maybe I could take on more electrolytes ahead of the race rather than just during? Not sure if that would help. 
    I went straight to the lake district after my race and did some fell walking (inc to the summit of scarfell Pike) so not perhaps as much immediate rest as I'd like. I have run a couple of 4 mile easy paced runs this weekend. 
    I have  a race in mind with a small field in Exeter - flat again, but just waiting to find out if it can be used as a qualifier for GFA. They have a licence - just checking if it's a road licence etc. It's on 20th May so 6 weeks after my Manchester attempt.
    Maybe rest up a little (gentle runs) for a week or so, then try and get a bit of pace back again. Would I be better to try and get another long one in before or benefit more from the recovery from long miles do you think?
  • SHADESSHADES ✭✭✭
    edited April 2018
    purplepig - it's not easy to identify the reason for cramps, we've had long discussions about it on my training thread.   It seems that strength work helps.  I don't think lack of electrolytes is such a key issue, unless it's very hot, but dehydration definitely makes cramps much more likely.

    That Exeter race is local to me, yes it's RunBritain permitted race and should count for GFA but be warned the course is run a lot on footpaths around the canal, lots of twists and turns and I think some gates to go through.  I think it could be difficult to get into a steady rhythm and carry on like that on that course.  

    Worcester is the same day, a 2 lap road course. Or Shakespeare the week before.

    Re training, you should be OK to do a 10 miler next weekend then do an 18 or 20 the following weekend, then almost time to taper again!  Focus on easy/long run pace, eat and sleep well and that bounce will come back to your legs.
  • purplepigpurplepig ✭✭✭
    Thanks for the info. Thought Worcester might be good one and looked pretty fat according to their website but then RW reviews said it's pretty hilly with not great PB potential. Think as I'm so close to the time required ie;not much spare! I probably need a flat route.
  • purplepigpurplepig ✭✭✭
    flat not fat!!!
  • CSMLFCCSMLFC ✭✭✭
    edited April 2018
    I'm in the same boat. Trained for sub 3 in Manchester but was riddled with a virus. Managed the first 4 miles at marathon pace and decided shortly after to abandon all hope of a decent time and just try and finish in one piece. Limped over the line in 3.23. Was initially disappointed however enjoyed the occasion and was happy to have another marathon under my belt. Feel much better now and have entered Blackpool a week today. Not ideal but like yourself have trained hard all winter and would like to give it another go before inevitably detraining a little over the summer with kids hols etc!

    're the cramps maybe increase your salt intake slightly the day or so before the marathon. Or I believe you can get tablets online but obviously you would need to train with them before race day. Good luck!
  • rodeofliprodeoflip ✭✭✭
    Okay, I'll give you a positive! I've run quite a few marathons in quick succession, and I've learned that I really need about 3 week's recovery inbetween.But each time I've done this, each successive race is faster. I did 4 races in 7 weeks 2 years ago and my times were lower for each one. I reckon that the best training you can have for a marathon is running a marathon, as long as you recover afterwards. How long is an individual thing, but you will be better placed to run a marathon now than you were before Manchester. You've done the hard work and training, might as well have another go and get the full benefit from it?
  • purplepigpurplepig ✭✭✭
    Good luck CMSLFC with your next attempt at Blackpool
    Rodeoflip, your comments are very much appreciated. I think it's important to go into a marathon feeling mentally strong, and I guess hearing other's successful stories will help me with that. I think you're right, and actually I rally have nothing to lose from giving it a go. With 6 weeks in between the races, would you suggest I concentrate more on recovery and then picking pace up a little again or do you think I'll really want to be getting another long run in before?
  • SHADESSHADES ✭✭✭
    purplepig - it's finding a suitable race that is probably your hardest challenge.   There's Newport on the 29th April and that is going to be a very flat fast course but I think it's full.   Blackpool is flat, I've only run that once and not sure if it's the same course, flat fast course but the day I ran it the wind was gale force for the last 10 miles.  Milton Keynes is supposed to be a fast course and I think entries are still open for that race.
  • purplepigpurplepig ✭✭✭
    I think you're right Shades. Milton Keynes was one I was looking at. Nutty as it sounds, I even considered a track marathon (some people can/some people can't) however, I'm not sure they count for GFA as their licence is not a road one.
  • SHADESSHADES ✭✭✭
    purplepig - if you haven't done a track marathon then I wouldn't advise it when trying for your GFA time.   They can be really hard mentally keeping up a relentless pace, I think they still count for GFA as long as permitted etc but there's always a risk that there could be a timing issue if there was any sort of error on the lap counting.

    I'd go for MK if I were you, no need to do a long run, do a couple of 10 milers when you've recovered fully.   Work out your pacing for 26.4 and what I do is check the mile markers against my GPS as I go round then I know what extra I need to calculate for in the last mile.
  • rodeofliprodeoflip ✭✭✭
    SHADES said:
    purplepig - if you haven't done a track marathon then I wouldn't advise it when trying for your GFA time.   They can be really hard mentally keeping up a relentless pace, I think they still count for GFA as long as permitted etc but there's always a risk that there could be a timing issue if there was any sort of error on the lap counting.

    I'd go for MK if I were you, no need to do a long run, do a couple of 10 milers when you've recovered fully.   Work out your pacing for 26.4 and what I do is check the mile markers against my GPS as I go round then I know what extra I need to calculate for in the last mile.

    Agree. Your body won't let you run to much for a couple of weeks, then there's your taper for the last few weeks. So you might be able to get a long run or two in, but I wouldn't worry about it, your stamina will still be there. I would run a couple of 13-15 milers at the most maybe 2 or 3 or 4 weeks after the first marathon. Play it be ear, and bear in kind that if you didn't run a step between the two marathons then you'll still have the fitness gains from the first one.
  • Track marathons would count towards GFA.  They're really not that fussy, the only reason off-road ones don't usually count is because you can't certify the distance for an off-road course.  Definitely not a problem for a track marathon!
  • tmholttmholt ✭✭✭
    edited April 2018
    Do bear in mind that running a GFA time won't guarantee you a place for 2019: they've just announced that they're introducing a cap on the number of GFA places, so those who are only just inside the standards may well miss out. See https://www.virginmoneylondonmarathon.com/en-gb/news-media/latest-news/item/gender-parity-in-new-good-for-age-qualification-process-for-the-london-marathon/ for details.
  • Yes the buggers.  I was already qualified for next year, but now I'm outside the cut off and I'm in no shape to improve it. Ho hum - it was a good run while it lasted ! 
  • tmholttmholt ✭✭✭
    I've been caught by the changes too.

    I have a 3:02, run in October aged 39, which I was going to use to get in for the first time in 2019 aged 41.

    It used to be that your age on race day was what mattered, so my 3:02 had to beat the 3:15 standard for the 41-50 age group. I knew they might tighten up the standards, but I figured I had enough of a buffer to be safe from any changes.

    But now it's your age on the day you ran your time that matters, and my 3:02 fails to meet the new 18-39 standard of 3:00, so I need a new qualifying time.

    I'm now 40, so need to run sub-3:05. I'm doing Newport the weekend after next. Training has been mediocre, but better over the last month. Nothing I can do about the GFA changes other than re-qualify. Suddenly the pressure's on...
  • purplepigpurplepig ✭✭✭
    Oh crikey!! Well, then I probably won't get a place anyway!! Still, it would be nice to hit the time required even if I didn't get awarded a place.

    Cougie/tmholt that's hard to take :(
  • SHADESSHADES ✭✭✭
    purplepig - I'm sure you would get a place, you'd only have to be faster than 3:59:59 if more than 3,000 women apply for GFA so stick with your goal. :)
  • purplepigpurplepig ✭✭✭
    Thanks Shades. I'm not a quitter, so I have pulled myself together and decided to go for it. I have been encouraged by the input from you guys posting on here, and I guess that's what I needed. I have decided to enter Exeter, having contacted the RD and he confirmed no gates. I know there's a risk with twists and turns but it's closer to me (I'm in Dorset) and less runners, less people traffic in the race. I'm not assuming I will do it. I think there's a huge chance I will get halfway and realise I'm not recovered enough to give it everything again yet. However, I think I'll be ok with that because I know it's a long shot - nothing to lose :wink: and I will give it my best shot.
    I am entered into Abingdon later in the year, so worst case scenario is I have to train up again for it and have one final shot later.
    Thanks everyone for your help.
  • SHADESSHADES ✭✭✭
    purplepig - glad to hear Pete has taken those gates out of the course at Exeter now, they were there in the first year and there were folk strolling along the paths and blocking some of the gates, it was very frustrating.

    You also have a longer period now to get that GFA for 2019, 10th August is the deadline now.   That means if you don't get your time at Exeter you could do Gloucester on 5th August, I haven't run that course but I believe it's quite flat.   I have entered this year.

    I thought you were fairly close to me, I'm in Devon.
  • purplepigpurplepig ✭✭✭
    Yes, that's true :)
  • purplepigpurplepig ✭✭✭
    Shades - it's a long shot, but if you've done the race before, I don't suppose you have a gpx of the route? I'm thinking I might come up and do my longest run on the course before hand to get a sense for it. I believe it's 3 laps?
  • SHADESSHADES ✭✭✭
    purplepig - do you mean Exeter route?  He has changed the route since I did it.  I ran it the first year it was so awful that I stopped after the first lap and ended up completing my first 14km race, which was going on at the same time and he put me as a finisher for that event.  I only run road and there was too much trail plus we'd gone the wrong way twice due to lack of/poor marshalling.   But I believe he's resolved all these problems now and my friend ran it last year and said it was great.   But I prefer to drive up the M5 to Worcester on that day for my marathon. Sorry never use gpx.  Is the route on website?

    I believe he does have plans in the future to put on a proper road marathon in Exeter, by proper I mean not along the canal using footpaths etc.
  • purplepigpurplepig ✭✭✭
    Ah ok, thanks. Finger's crossed it's all ok this year then! I shouldn't imagine he will be able to have too much trail now  if it's going to certified as a road race. I think I will start another thread to see if anyone has experience of it or GPX of route.
  • SHADESSHADES ✭✭✭
    edited April 2018

    A 3 lap route around Exeter Riverside Valley Park. A flat route, along the cycle/footpaths that run alongside the River Exe, with a very short section, on a quite urban road.The start is at Exeter City Football Club and will run through Exeter City Centre on closed roads, before arriving at the Exeter Quay.

    Venue

    • Course address Piazza Terracina
      Haven Banks
      Exeter
      Devon
      Ex4 6PX
    • Venue facilities: The Race HQ at the start will have , toilets, changing facilities. A safe bag store will be available, car parking is close by. At the finish area there will be, showers, changing , and cafes.

    Details

    • Race Title: exeter marathon
    • Race Date: Sunday 20 May 2018 - 09:00
    • Licence Status: Unmeasured Road Race
    • Distance: 26.2 miles
    • Limit:500
    • No of Entrants Previously:484
    • Minimum Age: 18
    • Profile: Flat
    • Water stations:Yes
    • Awards/mementos: Yes
    • Distance markers: miles
    • Course Address: Piazza Terracina
      Haven Banks
      Exeter
      Devon
      Ex4 6PX

    I just looked at the website, can't see the course but on RunBritain (pasted above) it does say unmeasured road race so he hasn't got it certified yet.   I think for GFA you will need to ensure he has a course measurement certificate.
  • OuchOuchOuchOuch ✭✭✭
    purplepig - I've run it twice and enjoyed it as its scnic, next to the river Exe and a bit different. But it is not that fast a course, there is a bit of trail and a few smallish climbs up embankments/ small hills etc.  The 3 laps also take a bit of direction finding and there is a fair amount of twisting turny paths. I've done OK on it but also consider Yevoil, which I've also done and I would say is a faster course and gives you an extra 3 weeks of training as its June 10th - I think.
  • purplepigpurplepig ✭✭✭
    ooh ok, thanks guys. 
    The guy did say it was about to be measured as they'd had to wait due to some work being done on the route.
«1
Sign In or Register to comment.