It had been quite few years since my last marathon and I was getting more and more eager to run one again. Stirling marathon seemed perfect for it – close by, low key and at a good time. I signed up early in September and was really excited about it for months. My training was going well, especially my running. I was quite confident I could go under my target time of 3.15, possibly even under 3.10.
Then about 2-3 weeks before the marathon I started feeling more tired than usual, my legs felt tight and heavy. Swimming was even worse, like a slow slog. Everything felt just a bit too hard. I was not quite sure what was wrong with me. I panicked, lost confidence and was mentally sapped. The marathon that was now just a couple of weeks away seemed like an impending doom.
I found some peace of mind in friends and club mates who told me not to think about it as a race, but rather as a long training run. That at least gave me the strength to get to the starting line. I settled into a pace that felt comfortable, but inside I still felt uneasy. Mostly like I had to prove something.
At 20 km the time stood at about 1.25 – I was running a sub 90 half marathon, something I had never done before. This was real desperation. Trying to prove to myself that I was strong, that I could run fast. It was not going to end well. There was no way I could carry this on for much longer. Sure enough, as mile 16 passed with some steeper climbs at Stirling university, my legs tightened up like nothing I had felt before. Great. 10 more miles to go. I pushed on for a couple of more miles, my pace steadily dropping. And then I ground to a halt. The 10k to the 40k mark took me a full hour!
What saved me from total destruction was the merging of the course with the half marathon. I joined the half marathon crowds and their 2.40 pacer. Thankfully I was going faster than that and I was able to continually move up and over take many of them. But the fact the marathon runners were catching up and passing me at much faster pace still hurt a bit.
At about two miles to go I checked my watch and decided I could still get under 3.15 if I lifted the pace a bit. Gritting teeth I crossed the line with just a few seconds under the target time. I was so stiff I could barely walk and I don’t remember when I last hurt so bad.
If you are going to run your marathon PB, don’t run your half marathon PB in the first half! It really does not feel good!
posted by Mirjam Allik on