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Monday, 13 October 2014

The Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon 2014

Sunday 12th October 2014

The weather forecasts leading up to this marathon were looking damned near perfect - fog was predicted for the early part of the race but temperature and wind conditions couldn't have been better:

Although just 7 days earlier a not too friendly virus had resulted in a 42:00 performance at the Burnley Fire Station 10k, in the days leading up to York the legs were feeling great with each run during the week feeling progressively easier as the week went on.

So did this mean that the 21 year old marathon PB of 2:48:58 might be coming onto the radar, especially with a couple of quick fire sub 80 half marathons in the build up? It had to be getting close so Sunday couldn't come around quick enough to give it a good go and find out the answer.

This was the state of play of the marathons since the comeback started:

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)
2013 October - Budapest Marathon 2:58:53 (Age 47)
2013 December - Lancaster Marathon 2:54:17 (Age 47)
2013 December - Pisa Marathon 2:54:09 (Age 47)
2014 April - Manchester Marathon 2:51:52 (Age 47)
2014 April - London Marathon 2:57:52 (Age 47)
2014 June - Rhyl Marathon 2:58:24 (Age 48)

The Race

After a few hellos on the start line we were off into the fog bound centre of York. It all seemed very peaceful despite sizeable crowds and that made it easy enough to switch off early doors and start getting into a tick over rhythm. If you're feeling any effort in this first 10K then you're doomed, so it is just a case of ignoring anything going on around and trying to get Tony Audenshaw out of your head after listening to 'The Day Before/After A Marathon' on the way to York. The fact that the organisers were also playing the same track as we booked the baggage in only served to doubly entrench the earworm :p

Anyway, the first 10K took 39:38 feeling nice and easy. Just seven days earlier 42:00 had seemed so much harder for a single 10k so at least that showed that the virus was no longer on the scene.


Out on the quiet country lanes now and by quiet I really mean quiet. There were times when, because of the fog hanging around, there wasn't another runner or spectator to be seen. This was absolutely fine, it felt really good to have an uninterrupted rhythm and an empty road ahead.

The second 10K went by in an uneventful 39:14. There was no thinking about potential finishing times yet as I leave that until at least 30K when you get a feel for how the closing stages are going to shape up. Nonetheless, I was happy that moving along at sub 2:50 pace was feeling pretty comfortable and that places were being gained on a regular basis.


The halfway mat was a little late, which is why the splits from 20k to halfway on the official stats look a bit odd. My own halfway time showed as 1:24:00 (which I was happy with) but in reality it was a few seconds quicker than that.

As a comparison, in the previous comeback PB of 2:51:52 at Manchester in April, halfway was reached in 1:26:11 and I don't recall it feeling as comfortable as this.


This section included the two switchback points, at 14 miles and 18 miles, where crowds gather at just the right times to get the mind switched on to start laying the stall out for the closing stages. I find that if you get to 30k and you are thinking about chasing times and/or chasing down runners in front then you are probably going to be fine to the end of the race and hold together pretty well. On the other hand, if it is starting to already feel laboured at 30K you can quickly become a passenger in a slow inevitable car crash of a last 10k.

On this occasion, 30K provided a nice boost as the 3rd 10K had taken 39:45 despite having some of the stiffer stretches of road within it.

So the pace was staying constant, the legs were feeling strong and there was a nice feel good factor provided   by the crowds at the 18 mile switchback point.

I must have been feeling pretty chirpy at this point as I'm usually a miserable bugger not one high fiving the crowds:

It was now going to get serious as the crowds were left behind for the next few miles, so it was time to start thinking about potential finishing times to provide a focus for this section.


My previous PB of 2:48:58 was conveniently exactly 4:00/km or 20:00 per 5km so the maths were nice and easy. To be on target at 30K required 2:00:00 so going through there in 1:58:37 meant that I could now start thinking about chasing down a new PB. It wasn't going to be easy but to get into this position and feel up for the challenge meant that I was going to give it a damned good go.

As miles 20, 21 and 22 went by it was starting to feel like it was getting harder now but I wasn't quite sure whether it was because we were slightly climbing or whether I was slowly falling into a hole. But each mile marker was providing a really big boost as the splits kept coming in in the 6:20s. No matter how it was feeling there wasn't a lot wrong.

40K was reached in 2:38:43 meaning that the last 10K had taken 40:06, marginally slower than the previous 10k splits but only by a handful of seconds.


It wasn't going to fall apart now so it was time to really soak in the best closing stages to a marathon that my legs had ever experienced. Going trough 25 miles with the clock still showing sub 2:40 and being able to see the clock at sub 2:45 when the 26 mile marker was visible just up ahead were both new experiences for me. And quite pleasant ones at that :) 

Down towards the finish line and I could see the clock up ahead showing 2:47 and not many seconds so it was now time to relax in the knowledge that the job was done and do a bit of showboating with the crowds. Embarrassing behaviour I know but if it's good enough for Mr Way ;)

The Marathon Age Time Line (2hrs + Age)
This used to be a novelty target which created quite a lot of discussion around what was the optimal age to achieve a time better than 2:00 plus your age in minutes. It sounds quite straightforward but then when you consider that it means that a 20 year old has to run faster than 2:20 and a 60 year old has to beat 3:00 it quickly becomes apparent that for most mortals there is a very small window where it is even feasible.

So, for that contrived reason a 2:47:xx at 48 years old is rather pleasing :)

Build Up To Yorkshire

So what was the build up like leading into this race? 

The answer was that it was the same as usual only with more miles, so where Manchester had been preceded by 10 weeks averaging 50 miles or so the comparative for York was more like 80mpw.

Running every day but with no 'training sessions' at all. Pretty much all training was 8 mins/mile+, with much at 9 mins/mile+. As a substitute for 'sessions' there was racing, lots of racing, with an emphasis on covering a wide range of distances.

It seems to work for me and exactly the same build up seems to lead to pretty much the same results for Hannah too. A 2:52:08 huge PB for 5th place yesterday wasn't too shabby :)

And celebrating by dunking Guinness loaf in Guinness is probably a first for any marathon runner anywhere. Ever. The girl has got class :)

1 comment:

  1. Very inspiring. Less than six months before the next update please!