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Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Belfast City Marathon 2015

After completing London it seemed like a nice time gap to the next marathon, ie 5 weeks before Kent Roadrunner. That sort of gap gives time to recover, get another 2-3 weeks of good mileage in and regain full strength again before lining up to face 26.2 miles once more.

Great in theory. The fly in the ointment came when at some point on Monday it was mentioned that Belfast City Marathon was only 7 days away and it was on a Bank Holiday. Hmmmm. The usual sense check of 'if it still seems like a good idea in the morning then ...... ' was put in place.

It still seemed like a really bad idea the next morning so I have no idea how we ended up entered and on our way to Belfast.

Week 1 of 1

Mon 27/4: 3.1 miles (no time) Dulwich parkun Freedom
Tues 28/4: 3.1 miles @ 9:43/mile
Tues 28/4: 6.21 miles @ 8:23/mile
Weds 29/4: 6.21 miles @ 9:33/mile
Thurs 30/4: 3.1 miles @ 9:25/mile
Fri 1/5: 5.6 miles @ 8:31/mile
Sat 2/5: 4.0 miles incl Wilmslow parkrun (3.1 miles @ 6:45/mile)
Sun 3/5: 3.1 miles @ 8:52/mile Bangor parkrun Freedom

Total Mileage - 30.42 miles

Mon 4/5: 26.21 miles @ 6:40/mile Belfast City Marathon 2:54:54 (28th/2nd V45)

Mon 27th April:

First things first and a trip to Dulwich Park to start working the London Marathon out of the legs.

We were joined by Dean Allaway and Kerri French, still basking in the afterglow of her first marathon completion.

The rest of the week was the usual running at whatever pace felt comfortable. 

The only aim was to get some blood flow going to promote any repair work without straining too much. By consuming plenty of protein as well, hopefully a week would be enough to get the majority of any lost muscle strength back. Time would tell ......

Sat 2nd May - Wilmslow parkrun (20:58)

Even though the parkrun was two days before Belfast rather than the usual day before situation it was still important to keep the effort level to no higher than the equivalent of what the first 5k at Belfast was going to be.

This was a lesson learnt last October when putting a full effort in at Castlebar parkrun two days before Dublin Marathon, the price was paid in the closing stages of the marathon.

Mon 4th May - Belfast City Marathon (2:54:54)

On the Saturday evening we had stayed in Cushendall, which is about 35 miles north of Belfast. That evening in Cushendall had winds reaching 40mph so it is was great to wake up on marathon morning and see that the forecasts had been correct, sunny with just a mild breeze.

The scene around City Hall in the centre of Belfast a few minutes before the 9am start:

As can be seen from the route map, the course has been designed to take in most areas around Belfast. Previous years have seen the route changed to something flatter but apparently this hillier version was reinstated by popular request as it was deemed to give the race more character.

Roughly speaking it was going to be generally uphill to 15 miles and then any headwinds would be encountered on the way back into the city after 17 miles. We had a rough idea of the area already but decided to have a drive around the course on Sunday evening. This turned out to be a very good move.

The Race:

0-10 miles (1:07:06)

There was going to be no heroics trying to push the pace along in the first 10 miles knowing the course layout.

An undulating 5 mile loop took us out to the City Airport and then back into the city centre before heading up the Falls Road and around the various residential areas.

Around the Crumlin Road area at 8.5 miles the course goes through what is now referred to as the Peace Line. A large explosive device was discovered around this point on Friday night but such is the resolve of the Belfast people that you would never know, it was strictly business as usual.

A sign of just how welcoming people were was summed up by a sign outside one house saying 'Marathon Runners - You are most welcome to come in and use our bathroom facilities'. Nice touch.

This picture was just after running through the Peace Line taken by Mark Ramsey. I was really enjoying myself here but mindful that there was probably 6 miles of climbing still to do:

And this was Hannah smiling along at the same point:

10 Miles - Halfway (1:27:47)

20:40 for the 5k between 10 miles and halfway felt like a real confidence booster.

Usually a good solid mid marathon 5k is around the 20:00 mark but this section had been mostly up the incline of Antrim Road while trying to be cautious so 20:40 while regularly gaining places seemed pretty good.

Halfway - 20 Miles (2:13:13)

The second 10 miles had been roughly 4 miles uphill, 1.5 miles downhill and then 4.5 miles flat along the banks of the River Lagan into a variable headwind.

The first 10 had taken 1:07:06, followed by the second 10 in 1:06:07.

Considering that all the tough stuff (terrain wise) was now out of the way and the legs and energy levels were feeling pretty perky, I was quite looking forward to tackling the last 10k to see if it was all going to hold together better than last week.

20 Miles - The Finish (2:54:54)

With the way things were feeling at 20 miles it felt reasonable to have a go at running the last 10k in 40:00 (ie 2:48 marathon pace).

This may have been on the cards if, as expected, the final section was flat. However, a mile long uphill drag up to 25 miles took the edge off the finishing pace. It didn't matter though, feeling strong and still gaining places was quite a surprise 7 days after London. And it was sunny so there was a real feel good factor to the closing stages.

A negative split of 1:27:47, 1:27:07 was definitely a direct result of the drive around the course on Sunday evening and turned 52nd place at halfway into 28th place by the finish line.

It was an unexpected pleasure to be immediately greeted, and be presented with the finisher's medal, by the lovely Mags Mathieson:

And ever the multi tasker, Mags also doubled up as finish line photographer:

For the first time in several marathons the course had no switchback points and therefore I had no idea how Hannah had been getting on.

Three elite women had already finished and shortly after crossing the line it looked like there were several women in the the short finishing straight all together. This could be very entertaining as each place was worth quite a bit of prize money.

First in was Sharon Barlow competing in her first marathon to record 2:56:57 for 4th place:

Then, just 17 seconds behind Sharon there was an eyeballs out sprint taking place between Hannah and Teresa McCluskey-Duffy, a battle that Hannah finally won by 2 seconds to take 5th place.

Little did we know at the time but Teresa was the former Northern Ireland record holder and Commonwealth Games marathoner, narrowly missing out on a medal at the Manchester Commonwealth Games :

The 7th place lady was just a mere 8 seconds further back, followed shortly afterwards by the 2014 Yorkshire Marathon Winner Shona Fletcher.

This image of Shona and Hannah was captured by the BBC and used as one of their selected images in their news coverage of the event:

The amazing thing about the outcome of this race, considering it hadn't even been on the radar 6 days earlier, is that it looks like both of us have ended up with the biggest prizes ever won from running. For my part that is more a reflection that I've never won 'owt .... but still welcome :)

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 - Canberra ACT Marathon 2:52:10 (Age 48) (15th)
2015 April - London Marathon 2:50:55 (Age 48)
2015 May - Belfast City Marathon 2:54:54 (Age 48) 

Next .............

The next marathon will be Kent Roadrunner in 4 weeks time. There is Zero, zilch, 0% chance of any other marathon just happening to get squeezed in in the meantime !!!!

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