Many months ago, I embarked upon my Abingdon Marathon training programme. I set out aiming for what had evaded me at London 2011 and Liverpool 2012 – a sub-4:30 marathon. This was a target I knew I had in me; my training showed I could do it, but I’d missed out on the day.
So as I sit here with a new 21 min PB of 4:23:54, why did I feel a bit disappointed yesterday?
Since the start of 2013, I’ve noticed an increase in my general running speed. So when I came to find my target run pace for Abingdon in the FIRST programme, I was surprised to see it suggested I could achieve a sub-4 hour marathon based on my other race results. In truth, I didn’t believe it. I have some trouble with self-belief sometimes. Nonetheless I followed the plan and a few weeks ago, during my last long run, I knocked out 20 miles in just over three hours. Suddenly, I started to believe I may just be able to do this.
But I got a bit scared to admit that this was my revised target so I didn’t tell many people. I had never achieved a target in a marathon before. I didn’t want to fail again.
A friend gave me some great advice. As marathons are unpredictable, have a few targets: one for the perfect day (sub-4), one for a great day (sub 4.10), one for a really good day (sub 4.30) and one for a good day (PB of sub 4:44).
Abingdon didn’t go well. I had a tight, sore hamstring from mile 1. I expect pain from about 15M onwards but to run four hours like this was going to be tough. By mile 10 I was struggling as much as I normally would be at 18M. It took some serious mental battles and the invaluable support of a friend from my running club (who was going through similar turmoil from early on in the race) to get me through those grim mid-race miles. My ever-positive and encouraging other half popped up all over the course to try and keep my spirits up. He always encourages me to think positively – something I am not always very good at. And yesterday he had a job on his hands. At around mile 23/4 he asked me to list some positives about the race. I have since given this some more thought and have come up with the following:
- Big PB. If you’d offered that to me 12 months ago I’d have snapped it up.
- I think I came second in the County Championships (including a bronze, two silvers and a gold medal). This is kind of by default but you’ve got to be in it to win it!
- No toenail loss.
- No major blisters or chafing.
- I could have quit but I didn’t.
- My hamstring is sore, but nothing that some physio won’t fix.
- I am lucky enough to be able to run.
- Amazing support.
- I have something to work towards for Manchester.
- I have now run three marathons. I never thought I could do even one.
So yes, I felt disappointed, but I did not fail. My goals are ever shifting and I always need something to work towards. So on to Manchester 2014. Let’s see if I can get closer to 4 hours there. I know I’ve got it in me; my training shows I can do it, but I just missed out on what turned out to be a really good day.