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Friday, 18 October 2013

Budapest Marathon Adventure

Budapest Marathon
Sunday 13th October 2013

It has been a little while since the last post but that doesn't mean that it has been a quiet time on the running escapades front.

In fact, since the last post 16 weeks ago there have been 46  races/events of various kinds across distances ranging from 800metres to the marathon and geographically spread across England, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Netherlands, Poland and Hungary.

In summary, it has been a brilliant and fascinating 3 or 4 months culminating in last Sunday's Budapest Marathon run along the banks of the Danube.

As a bit of background to this, the marathons attempted since getting the running shoes out of hibernation in 2008 have been:

2009 April - Blackpool Marathon 3:24:17 (Age 42)
2009 September - Fleetwood Marathon DNF (Age 43)
2010 October - Amsterdam Marathon 3:04:27 (Age 44)
2010 November - Milton Keynes Track Marathon DNF (Age 44)
2011 April - London Marathon 3:18:30 (Age 44)
2012 April - London Marathon 2:57:04 (Age 45)
2012 October - Chester 2:55:36 (Age 46)
2013 April - London Marathon 3:11:29 (Age 46)
2013 June - Cork Marathon 3:06:19 (Age 47)

Inevitable Slowing ?

For the first 20+ marathons that I completed there was always an inevitable slowing of pace towards the end, sometimes a steady decline but sometimes a complete falling off a cliff scenario. Even my PB involved a 12 minute positive split!.

However, since London 2012 things have been different in that the second half slowing is no longer an inevitability. Apart from London this year, which involved a strain from tripping on a water bottle, the other three marathons have involved holding an even pace or even slight negative split.

And with that background the main hope from Budapest was to achieve more of the same and try to feel strong towards the end, thus helping to convince myself that the others werent a fluke.

So, after a brief visit to Warsaw, which included a trip around Warsaw parkrun, it was onto race day.....

Before the start:

This is what we were greeted with just before the start in Heroe's Square - misty, calm and mild. Absolutely perfect for the early stages although we knew the sun was forecast to be out and burning our foreheads before we returned back at lunchtime.

The Start:

Off we go and 26 seconds in all is going well so far with Hannah clipping my heels....

0-5K 21:55 (projected finishing time 3:05:00)

The aim was, as always, to build the race layer by layer with eight 5K layers being laid on top of each other followed by the final push for the line.

5-10K 21:30 (proj. 3:03:14)

It all felt very pleasant early on with the very wide boulevards allowing you to run in your own space almost from the off without the usual barging from the over enthusiastics. The first two 5K layers were just about allowing tendons, muscles etc and everything else to get up to working temperatures with minimum strain.

10-15K 21:24 (proj. 3:02:21)

After that first 10K was out of the way the course passed over the Danube via the Chain Bridge onto the Buda side of the river. The Buda side is the hilly part of the city but thankfully the course stayed close to the river and remained very flat.

It was around the 14K mark that I first saw the Sub 3:00 pacers as we negotiated one of several about turns. I wasn't going to chase them as such but nonetheless their bright balloons were going to prove a useful visual clue as to how things were going as the race progressed.

The 14K about turn was also the point where I first saw how Hannah was getting on. Clearly she was going well timewise as she was only about a minute behind but she wasnt looking particularly happy with proceedings so it was a case of fingers crossed that it was just a bad patch. 

15-20K 21:10 (proj. 3:01:27)

From 14-21K was a nice flowing section although by now the mist had gone, the sun was out and the temperature was climbing quite rapidly. But it was the same for everybody so lets get on with it was the thought at this point.

Halfway 1:30:47 (proj. 3:01:34)

20-25K 21:02 (proj. 3:00:38)

After halfway and back across the river onto the Pest side I was now entering that questioning stage, trying to make my mind up as to whether I was starting to fade and was going to have to be careful or whether I was actually feeling pretty good and could afford to get stuck into the last 10 miles. Cautiously I was tending towards the latter.....but you never know!

25-30K 20:52 (proj. 2:59:55)

Pre-race, I had mentally prepared for the section on Margaret Island being the make or break section of the course with it being the crucial 28-33K

As we got onto the island there was the first real feeling that this wasnt going to fall apart. We were now entering the final third of the race and I was still thinking in terms of building the race rather than hanging on as has often been the case in the past.

There is a 5K long running track on Margaret Island with a proper track surface but only one lane wide. When I first saw it I thought that it might be a welcome change of surface for a kilometre or two. Wrong! It didn't take long to get back off it and realise how wonderful hard tarmac is.

30-35K 20:57 (proj. 2:59:27)

Just after 33K:

Because I had mentally made the island the make or break section, it felt wonderful to be coming off it at 33K feeling ready to push on and having the sub 3 pacers now right in front of me.

9K to go with everything still working smoothly was a nice place to be. The well being factor was also growing due to constantly passing runners. It was more to do with their slowing than my speeding up but it still helps the cause :)

35-40K 20:53 (proj. 2:59:05)

There was a really nice feel to the last 7K with the sun now shining brightly, the noise of the crowds building and the little legs feeling like they have never felt before in the closing stages of a marathon.

Approx 35K:

Returning to Heroe's Square at 37K:

Finish 2:58:53

It wasn't the fastest marathon, or even a comeback PB, but the feeling of crossing the line after enjoying every section of the race was a definite first....... but hopefully to be repeated :)

It was nice to turn round and see these guys finishing shortly after considering that they had been out of sight in the early stages:

And look at this for a finish, Hannah completely off the ground looking for all the world as if she is finishing a 5K rather than smashing her marathon PB out of the park.

3 marathons in 2013 and 3 negative splits - London 3:16:29, Cork 3:09:51 and Budapest 3:01:18

 Post Race:

Not bad for October, relaxing post race in glorious sunshine with cheap beer on tap :)

The Walk Home:

Our route back to the hotel later in the evening took us back through Heroe's Square and it has to be said that this sight is pretty stunning:

Monday Meanderings:

The day after race day we went for a coach ride............with a difference:

In short, a great venue for a marathon and one to be highly recommended.

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