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Monday, 9 March 2015

London Marathon 2015 (Week 5 of 12)

Week 5 of 12

This week was used as a staging post to see what sort of marathon endurance was in the tank. And what better way to find out than ....... to run a marathon :)

Conveniently, the excellent set up that is RunWales chose this week to host their inaugural Wrexham Marathon and Half Marathon event, so that fitted the bill very nicely.

Midweek just saw the usual steady running, the only difference being that it was restricted to just 5k and 10ks to at least give the legs a bit of a chance of tackling a marathon after 3 big efforts last weekend.

First though it was off to Fountains Abbey parkrun on Saturday to join Adam Prentis and the team to celebrate the event's first birthday. We also met up with Kerri French and Dean Allaway, who were to be our partners in crime on this first marathon weekend of the year.

Week 5 (Mon 2nd Mar - Sun 8th Mar)

Mon 2/3: 6.21 miles @ 8:57/mile
Tues 3/3: 3.10 miles @ 9:06/mile
Weds 4/3: 3.10 miles @ 9:00/mile
Thurs 5/3: 6.00 miles @ 8:14/mile
Fri 6/3: 3.10 miles @ 9:02/mile
Sat 7/3: 4.0 Miles (incl. Fountains Abbey parkrun 19:53 (3.1 miles @ 6:25/mile)
Sun 8/3: 27.0 Miles (incl. Wrexham Marathon 5th 2:48:12 (26.21 miles @ 6:23/mile)

Total Mileage - 52.51 miles

Saturday 7th March - Fountains Abbey parkrun (19:53)

For the last few marathons the approach to a parkrun the day before a marathon has been to treat it as a dress rehearsal for the first 5k of the marathon itself keeping everything nice and relaxed.

19:53 is about 6:25/mile so that was just about right for the purpose intended.

The picture below is the abbey from the far side of the course. If you detect a little blurriness that is due to Hannah taking the picture while on the run, she can trip over her own feet at the best of times so this was one highly dangerous activity :p

Sunday 8th March - Wrexham Marathon (5th 2:48:12)

From the provided course information a couple of things were pretty clear -

1. It was wiggly.
2. The second half was going to be more challenging than the first.

The idea was to run to feel as usual and then see what the situation was at around 18 miles. If the legs were struggling at that stage it would be no big surprise and would then be a case of nursing them over the last few miles trying to create minimum ongoing soreness. 26.2 miles is a good chunk of training at any speed but only on the proviso that the legs aren't wrecked in the process.

On the other hand, if feeling ok at 18 miles it would be a real confidence booster to feel strong over the closing miles.

The Race 

Miles 0-10

As always, the key with the opening miles is to gently ease the muscles and tendons into their task. We're going to be out there for the best part of three hours so there is no rush to be getting on with anything. It is far easier to push the pace along later when everything is warmed up and body weight has dropped a bit.

After twisting though a bit of a residential area, the course consisted of country lanes and industrial estates in equal measure.

10 miles was reached in 1:02:40 in 7th position. There were no feelings of concern about the remaining 16 miles at this stage, just a case of happily carrying on with more of the same until another review in another 5 miles.

Miles 10-20

During the next 10 miles there was an increase in headwinds and the stuff falling out of the sky had changed from a mild drizzle to more of a downpour. A little sympathy for the marshals was felt at this point.

15 miles was passed without any deterioration in how the run was feeling. The 5 miles from 10-15 had taken a little longer, about 32 minutes, but that was just a reflection of the course. Then the next 5 from 15-20 were significantly tougher due to both the course profile and soaked feet so took more like 33 minutes.

The 20 mile time was about 2:07:38.

This was interesting because with the PB from Yorkshire being 2:47:34 it meant that if the final 10k could be covered in a smidgen under 40 minutes then a PB was there to be had. A couple of back to back sub 20 5ks seemed very doable based on how the legs were feeling but there were a lot of unknowns left, a significant hill in the last mile, a lot of twistiness through a housing area and how would the soaking feet affect things?

Final 10K

The conditions had deteriorated quite a lot by the 20 mile point with quite heavy rain. This in itself was refreshing but the course was getting quite puddly in places, especially when twisting through a park area with a few mud sections. This resulted in soaking shoes, it felt like wearing wellies with a couple of gallons of water poured into each one as sploshy became the most accurate description of conditions.

The combination of the hills, twistiness and wet shoes meant that the time drifted slowly away from a PB performance (by 38 seconds) but taking all that into account I have not felt as strong as that in the closing stages of a marathon before. After working up to 5th place the focus of the last two miles was trying to close a 200m gap to 4th. In the end the chase fell short by 2 seconds but it still provided an entertaing, and encouraging, end to the marathon.

Hannah was flying towards the end as she too was close to PB territory and felt the same sense of encouraging strength over the closing stages. She ended up with 2:52:40, around 30 seconds off her PB at Yorkshire (sound familiar?), and that was enough to take the inaugural Wrexham Marathon title. With it being so early in the year that is actually the 2nd  fastest UK female marathon performance of 2015 so far. By 31st December things may have changed slightly ;)

So, what snippets of interesting info has this race thrown up?

As this was probably the best ever marathon performance, being just 30 seconds or so slower than the Yorkshire Marathon (2:47:34)  last October but on a tougher course in less favourable conditions, it is worth noting that both Wrexham and Yorkshire had an almost complete absence of LSRs in their respective build ups.

Leading up to Wrexham, we have only done one solitary training run in 2015 longer than 10 miles, and that was only 12.3 miles. This isn't a recommendation, just an interesting observation!

All runs longer than that are in the marathon building blocks list below.

So that's the 19th marathon on the comeback trail, which started with the aim of 'possibly' managing one final sub 3 timing. It's not turning out too badly so far :)

Recent Marathon Record

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) (1st)
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)
2014 October - Yorkshire Marathon 2:47:34 (Age 48)
2014 October - Dublin Marathon 2:58:53 (Age 48)
2014 November - Town Moor Marathon 2:54:56 (Age 48) (1st)
2015 March - Wrexham Marathon 2:48:12 (Age 48) (5th)

2015 April - London Marathon ??:??:?? (Age 48)

Marathon Building Blocks:

15th Feb: 18.6 miles @ 6:16/mile
22nd Feb: 10.0 miles @ 6:04/mile
28th Feb: 3.1 miles @ 5:48/mile
28th Feb: 3.1 miles @ 5:50/mile
1st March: 13.1 miles @ 6:24/mile
8th March: 26.21 miles @ 6:23/mile

Next week will see a couple more efforts at the weekend, the Podium 5k on Saturday evening followed by the Locke Park 20 miler in Redcar on Sunday. The latter is a 20 x 1 mile lap event using the same course as the Redcar parkrun, it should be an enjoyable event subject to the legs bouncing back from the marathon OK.


  1. Awesome stuff. Maybe it is possible to train for a marathon and have fun at the same time?

  2. Cheers Phil. You're quite right, the fascinating part is how many different ways there are to 'train' for a marathon, there certainly isn't a single 'correct' way.