Dodgy stomach (as usual).
Porridge, toast, coffee and apple juice for breakfast.
2 bananas in the 2 hours before the start.
Over the race itself I had 4 litres of water and 4 Isogels.
My pacing strategy was to run between 5:30 and 5:41min/km (3:52 – 4:00hr marathon time), running the faster KMs in the first half and giving myself time to tackle the hills at a comfortable pace in the second.
These KMs were easy enough. I settled into a rhythm early and remembered what P&D said about conserving mental energy during the first half for the second half. For me this was focusing on the pace and ensuring that I wasn’t going too fast. Quite a lot of people passed me on this section (including a hipster-looking fella wearing Levis 501s and retro glasses), but I was happy to have space for myself, something I didn’t have in the crowds of the DCM.
During the first KM I had a brainwave for an arithmetic plan and I kept with it for nearly all of the race. My first KM was 5:29min, the second at 5:27min. So at the end of the 1st KM I had -1 second in my head, and at the end of the 2nd KM I had -4 seconds to remember. I kept going adding and subtracting each split to this tally, which was to be added to 3hr52min at the end. It didn’t take a lot of energy to do the maths (I am relatively arithmetically challenged!) so it’s something I will use again.
Finished this section congratulating myself on doing 25%! Felt like a big percentage compared to how good my legs felt.
The start of this section was the right-hand turn towards Leenane. The first bit was uphill and the rest had a bit of a headwind. I tucked in behind bigger runners for shelter and started passing a few people on the hill. The leading female ultra passed me a little bit before Leenane but wasn’t much faster. I noticed everyone sticking to the right-hand side of the road (probably because of the road traffic), but I took as straight a race-line as possible, moving whenever there was traffic. It started getting very warm at this point. The atmosphere in Leenane was great, plenty of locals out! My time going through the half-marathon mark was bang-on target for 5:30min/km pace which was a nice surprise.
From Leenane up to the 20-mile mark was great. My plan was to follow P&D’s guideline of not letting the pace slow down from a lack of concentration. I also wanted to allow myself a little bit of extra time for the hill, but it only amounted to two kilometres of 5:43 and a 5:49. I passed out more and more people, (including the leading female ultra a few times) and before I knew it I had reached the 20-mile mark.
I pictured myself running my 10km home from work which made me realise how little was left to the finish line. To be honest, all I can remember from this point was just passing nearly everybody in sight (mostly half-marathoners). There were quite a lot of walkers on the HOTW, more than I saw last year during the half. I allowed myself to slow down by one minute per km and right enough my heart-rate barely went higher than average. The first km down from the HOTW was slower than I had hoped, probably because I had lost my rhythm slightly. But as I felt good I just pushed harder, bringing my pace down to 5:23 and 5:06, and then 4:42 for the final 330 metres (close to my 5-mile race pace!). I think I was only passed by 3 runners (ultras) in the final 20km. The race couldn’t have been more perfect for me - no wall, stomach cramps,twisted ankles or demons telling me I couldn’t do it! One to remember.