I am hoping for a Thomas Barr moment. I am hoping that a season hampered by injury will produce a raw gem to finish. I am hoping that a training regime that had seen me give up on the eternal aim will somehow complete an amazing turnaround and come through by 12.00 tomorrow. I am hoping.
But I am also planning and you should too.
You’ve done the training, you’ve done the work and you’ve earned the right to have a go at whatever ambition you have in mind. I would suggest if you haven’t already settled on a plan, decide on one today and stick with it. That’s not to say you shouldn’t have a plan B or take alternative actions if during the run you find yourself struggling or indeed succeeding. But to begin with, stick to your plan.
If you have decided to do 8 minute miles for the first 10 k then do 8 minute miles for the first 10 k. Don’t let the day and the occasion get to you and do otherwise. Of course you will feel great at the start. You will be surrounded by 18,999 other people who feel great too, why wouldn’t you want to take off down the road like a bull let out at Christmas. But remember one thing how many of those 18,999 others will feel great come 20 miles. They say your race only begins at 20 miles. This is true except for those, like me, whose race has traditionally ended at 20. So will you be amongst those struggling backwards or those powering forward?
If I were to suggest something it would be pick you time you want to aim for. Let us say 4 hours. Run you first 10 kilometres between 0 and 5 seconds slower per kilometre so you will be about 30 seconds down. Then run your next 10 k at your expected pace and you will probably be a couple of seconds quicker each kilometre and inevitably end up being only a few seconds down come half way crossing somewhere about 2 hrs 00 mins and a few seconds. Then at that stage it will be either in you or it won’t. If you can’t run the second half in 1 hr 59 minutes and 50 seconds then you were never going to beat the 4 hours. Don’t run hard the first half expecting to make time so you can hang on. From my experience you don’t really hang on in a marathon. Come mile 24 you are either going forwards or going backwards.
If that is not your plan however then so be it. You’ve worked damn hard in preparing for the marathon so you have earned to run this race however the hell you want. You deserve it.
For me I’ve learnt a lot over the course of my eight marathons, usually from the mistakes I made. I learned I needed to train in my first, to take on energy in my second, to take on water in my fourth and not to take on to much off everything in my fifth. I learnt to have a Plan B in my sixth, to enjoy it in the seventh and to stick to my plan in the eight. In my ninth I hope I will follow my own advice in the ninth.
My plan is to run closer to 4.20 than 4.15 a kilometre for my first 10 k to be down between 30 and 50 seconds after 10 kilometres. Then to stick to race pace in the next 10 so my half way I will be about 20 seconds down coming in no quicker than 1 hr 30 and 15 seconds. For fuel for the first half I will have a gel after 5 k, a banana after 10. Another gel at 15 and three-quarters of one last banana at 20 with gels every 5 k after if I can.
I then want to do something I have never done in a marathon. I want to feel at half way that I am ready to attack. That I am ready to chase down my time. I want to feel like I am the one on the offensive. That I am going to breach the 3 hour wall rather than hang on, hoping my own walls won’t be breached instead.
I aim to have a mental picture of Heartbreak Hill in my head and look forward to it. I plan on seeing it in the person and smiling as I take up it. On reaching its summit I will then mount the final attack building momentum pushing forward and not going back.
And if I can do all that then maybe just maybe, I’ll have my Thomas Barr moment.
To everyone else, good luck with yours.
3k just to give the mind a run out:)