The training hadn’t gone well for the Newport marathon. Three colds in rapid succession followed by a bout of food poisoning which lasted a week had clipped my wings. I’d been nudging my sub three marathon pace when the food poisoning hit, so two weeks out I knew that the sub three hours was beyond me so instead I concentrated on my best marathon pace of 7:25 minute miles.
A week before on my ‘long’ Sunday run I’d twisted mt right ankle and a week later it was still giving me twinges. I bumped into a mate from the old Twisted by Design days at a Suede gig the week before, and her partner Matt was doing the marathon so he gave me a lift with his Dad to the Park and Ride and then to the start line. It was good to have a natter on the way up and to complain about carb loading.
They’d obviously learned from last year as it was far better organised and it actually started on time. I spent the hour before gun time having a coffee, eating a bagel and slathering on layers of Deep Heat and Ibuprofen gel .
Before I knew it we were off and as per tradition I had to take my mile one slash early on but then I was pretty fast and it felt pretty good. i actually hit a sub three hour pace at mile two but that didn’t last. The big change i made this year was I took my drinks with me. Two clipped into utility belt and one in hand which worked pretty well. I discarded the hand held bottle around mile 10. I took sips when I needed and it meant that I didn’t have to wait until the water stations.
I’d forgotten how much of the Newport marathon was on tarmac and I could feel the jarring in my legs and back. I brought pain killers with me and took one every three miles which seemed to stave off the worse of the pain. Most of yesterday’s race was similar to most marathons, mile after mile of running, there seemed to be a little less support than I remembered last year, especially out in the more rural outskirts of Magor. I settled into a pretty consistent pace of 7:20 - 7:30 from mile 7 to mile 17. i remember have a little wobble around mile 9 but I felt pretty strong all the way round. It was around mile 18 that I started to slow down. I thought I was in with a chance of a PB util the 3:15 pace setter passed me around mile 19. From mile 20 I was getting around 8 minute miles, not too bad but it was a bit of a grind.
The route opened up very early and there was a slight annoyance of one or two runners overtaking me then slowing down right in front, but it wasn’t too bad. Did I enjoy the run? It’s an odd thing cause in all of the marathon photos I look like I’m in pain. It’s an odd thing to do cause I don’t enjoy it the way I enjoy a gig say, but i’m never as in the moment as when I’m doing a distance like this and there were some definite endorphin highs on the route, but more of the race was churning out the miles yesterday.
At mile 23 I looked to my right and thought ‘I could have sworn that girl passed me earlier…oh no…’ then I remembered that you double back on yourself at the tail end of the course. It’s no biggie smalls but it did make my heart drop.
I got into a weird buzz in the last six miles that I could still do a PB, but the realisation hit me in the final two that it wasn’t going to happen, so then it was doing the best I could and trying to get in under 3:20. I sped up in the final mile where I high fived a kid who was on supporting and gave him some sage advice “Never run a marathon kid.” in the last mile there’s a slight incline up a bridge which is a bit of a teeth grinder. A sprint finish saw me getting in at 3:19:12 which is around 3 minutes slower than last year and 40 seconds slower than Tokyo. The only one who gives a shit about this of course is me. I’ll say what I say every marathon; I know i have a sub three hour in me! I should have kicked the booze earlier and banked more miles. Oh well, there’s always next year.