Well this was kind of an accidental race. I bet you wondering how is it possible?
Let me start at the beginning. Last year when I was training for the Berlin – Chicago marathon, I’ve run an awesome 18 miler training run. Few weeks after that I was supposed to run my 20 miler. Back then I was doing all my tranining runs by myself. When I got to mile 19 I was 3 mins behind the time I’ve set myself to run it. That was all, lost it mentally and sat on the curb for 10 mins crying my eyes out and then walked home 3 miles! Crazy.
So a few weeks ago when I had my 16miler run I decided when I have my next longer run in January I’ll book a race in.
I won’t race it, I just want to run with people. Not even to talk with them, but just to be around others. 20 mile is a bloody long way to do all alone.
After a bit of googling I came across a company called Saturn Running. they had a 6.5hour timed event on the 20th of January.
It was only in Thatcham, which is 25mins drive from my house so I thought that will be a great race, also it cost less than £30.
The only issue I had is, that the laps were 4.37miles long, My training plan said “18miles” , if I’d run 4 laps that’s not enough, but if I run 5 laps thats way too much.
At the beginning I thought I’ll get to 4 and see how I feel about the 5th one.
I wrapped up warm, because the weather forecast said it will be between 0 and -2 celsius.
The venue was Greenham common, nice and almost flat route. But mostly trail run, gravel, grass and loads of mud. Did I mention a gigantic hill?
We had to run 2 different laps, the Blue one first and then off the Pink one. 3 laps were a half marathon roughly.
After my 16 miler a few weeks ago when I managed to keep up a 7:41mins/km pace, my plan was to do the same. Or try to be as close to it as possible. My main aim for Tokyo is to get as close to a 5:30:00 finish time as I can, so for this I’ll need to run in a 7:50mins/km pace. In october in Chicago I just broke the 6hr mark with a time of 5:58:24 and my pace was 8:30mins/km.
So far my training went really well, and I was really hopeful to run that pace. Even if it’s slower I still have 41 days till race day so can improve.
The first lap just flew by, probably because I never ran here before so it was all really exciting. After the first few km I realised that I’m going way too fast, 7:05, 7:01, 7:04kms. I knew if I keep going like this I’ll burn out in the next few miles. Then just before the 5k mark I came across a pretty big hill. It wasn’t just the hill, it was the mud as well. But managed to get over it, but clearly can see in my km splits that I was struggling, this turned out to be a 7:52mins/km. But kept plodding along.
When reached the end of the first lap I collected my wristband, which indicated how many laps I’ve run.
The aid station was different. No disposable cups, everything reusable, you can either leave your flask there or buy a reusable – collapsible cup for £3. I decided to buy one pre race. At least I’m sorted for the future events. Also the aid table had the weirdest selection of items, Coke, Pepsi, IrnBru, water, squash, cheese, crisps, Haribo, pretzels and cakes. Yumm yumm yumm.
The second lap was on the Pink route, luckily this one had no hills and somehow it felt this one was much easier. Because it was a multilap event no matter where you were you had people coming by. I loved that fact that everyone kept motivating the others 🙂
The second and 3rd lap really flew by. When I got to the start of the 4th lap my Garmin still said that my average pace was 7:22mins/km. Turns out I got a new Half marathon PB at the end.
I mean I literally had no clue what was going on. I did not feel tired, and I was still going strong. Maybe drinking Coke does help? I thought I’ll puke because of the bubbles in it, but I had no stomach ache at all.
During the race I kept checking my time compared to the time I was aiming for. All the way round I was 11-13mins ahead of it. When I reached the end of the 4th lap ( 28km 3:27:46. ) I’ve decided to go to the 5th one. Yes, I’ll be way over the planned 32km but I can’t do a short course. Also it’s better to do more than less.
To my surprise when I reached 20 mile I was still under 4hours! Wow. 3.5 months ago in Chicago I ran 20 mile in 4hrs 35mins.
I ran 20 miles in 3hrs 57mins 30secs. Me! First time ever, since I started running 3years ago. I can easily do 5minles under 60mins, and if I push myself I can do 10mile under 2hrs, but this time I’ve done my fastest 20 miles ever and I wasn’t even feeling tired!
Usually I hit that “wall” around the 30k mark, but this time nothing. Literally I felt just as fresh as 4hrs earlier before the race. Hmmm maybe I should drink more Pepsi during the races? I’ve looked into it and Tokyo hands out TOMATOES and bred !! Who the heck eats tomatoes during a marathon?
The running route was really lovely, seen so many horses.
3rd time I was able to run up that massive hill. I think the adrenalin was pushing me to keep going and going. After that I only had about 2 more kms to go and the finish line was in sight.
Crossed the finish line in an awesome time of : 4:24:23 and I ran just over 22 miles.
I really don’t know how to summarise this race.
I did not hit the wall, I kept going, I kept an awesome pace up for 22 miles.
If someone back in October tell me that my pace will improve from 8:30 to 7:24 I would have laughed at their face. My pace? HAHA. It took me 18 months to go from a 6:57:31 marathon time to 5:58:24.
We are only 3.5 months after Chicago and my pace is already significantly faster. At this moment I do believe I do have a sub 5:30 marathon in me. Race day is only 41 days away so I’ll need to make sure I don’t over train or get injured but if I keep going to this direction I shouldn’t have any issues smashing that time in Tokyo.
It does look like that those hard and sometimes horrible run sessions with the tri club does wonders. I’m still dead last every single time, but I am improving. I’m improving so much and I still hardly believe it. I ran 22 miles yesterday and I did not feel tired, I hardly had any muscle ache and if I’d been more crazy I could have done another lap and just casually ran a marathon. Me. Casually. A. Marathon.