10 marathons – looking back

I was speaking with someone in work the other day after I’d sent out my charity link, and he was asking me about London and what time I hope to do it in. Not one for aiming for times nowadays, I see times more as a result of the conditions and my effort.

Pace and times are all relative… I’m competitive with myself, but not with others. And sometimes nowadays I’m not so competitive with myself as I know my faster running days are behind me, and not crucially, running fast doesn’t do it for me.

Running does, and being good at running does. Being able to push it to the max, or take it easy, or run as far as I want, or run with others, or help motivate and coach others to get into running – that’s what floats my boat.

I usually to run by my heart rate (155-165) but this time I’m going to run the marathon by pace instead. A pace which is based on how I’ve done in my training.

I gave a very wide answer of ‘under 4 hours’ and reminisce about the last time I did London … I said I did it in about 3:43… but looking back, 3:43 was Loch Ness 2016…

… I did London 2016 in about 3:37 (which got me a good for age time for London this year – which is great). I know what my PB is 3:28 and I don’t think I’ll ever get close to that again – it was hard work!

To be honest, I respect the marathon and understand how hard it is, so simply being able to do it is great. I want to have a good time (journey on the route / have fun), and if I run well on the day it’ll be a bonus.

I thought now would be a good time to look back at my 10 marathons I’ve done – remind myself that although I know they’re tough – I can do them!

So here they are:

I ran my first marathon in 2010 – a run up Loch Lomond (13.1 miles) and back… on my own. It was nasty, and sore, 3:38 / pace 8:21 and avg HR 159. It was a good way to learn.

And next up was the Fort William or Lochaber Marathon as it was then, back in 2011. Winter training, then 20-22’C on the day. It was ok for most of it, then it was pretty horrible and very hot from about 20 miles in. 3:40 / 8:24 min miles, avg HR 170!! 😳

It was after that I truly got the running big and ran 2 more marathons that year… no events, just the training and marathon distance 3 times. And another in February, then I stepped up to try ultra running and got a bit of an injury training for the Clyde stride.

Long runs, and 33.33 was my longest run in 2012 around Glasgow again… then 31 miles in July broke me. Rest and recovery and by September 2013 I was up and back training for marathons and ready for my next one.

That’s when I surprised myself with the 3:28 Pb around Glasgow. Pace 7:58 and avg hr 164… pushing hard, and keeping a good steady pace up to 22 miles (on for a 3:24 marathon at half way), then the wheels fell off a bit, but I still did well to keep going and finish in 3:28.

All of the long running in 2012 had meant that I had lost weight without trying. When I started running way back in 2008, I lost a stone or so with simple changes in what I did (exercise and eating healthier / not drinking alcohol)… then the long running lost me about another stone.

I was in my best shape ever… for running. At my racing weight at between 120-124lbs… running was easy.

Looking back, it’s no wonder I got my marathon PB … my solo run around Glasgow in September 2013… when I pushed myself to the max from the start and it was all going great until about 22 miles… I was on for a massive PB, then it really started to hurt with just over 4 miles to go and I told myself ‘I’m never doing this again, never racing so hard for a marathon’.

I finished it in an astonishing 3:28… around 12 minutes faster then I’d run my previous marathons. I leave that as my marathon Pb, but now I’m wondering what I’ll be able to achieve on Sunday at London.

Read more about my Glasgow marathon Pb here: https://lornpearsontrains.co.uk/2013/09/25/the-best-marathon-of-my-life/

After my glasgow marathon PB I did a good marathon in Belfast in May 2014… but it wasn’t my favourite run. 3:33 or so… perhaps the difference between Belfast and London is the support all the way around, and the unmistakable landmarks in London.

After my 3:28 effort I was truly stunned at what I’d managed to do … and I thought I’d stick to ‘I’m never running that hard again’… but now after a good training block for this marathon …. I’m very tempted. Tempted to see what I can do.

Like Cris Walsh, Bellahouston Harriers and 2:37 marathoner (and very nice guy) said at the time ‘if you want to run the best marathon of your life, you need to push hard. Of course it’s horrible, who said it was easy?! Push through that feeling for 5 minutes and your body will adjust’.

It’s true, and it works for me, if I choose to push it.

I’m confident in how I’m running… with 11 long runs in the last 3-4 months… I have had some weekends off long running… and a couple of weeks rest in March, but I needed it and I’m hoping it did me good.

This training cycle I’ve done 2 x 18 miles and 3 x 20 miles and another 18 miler with 13.1 miles at race pace (1:50 Inverness half marathon / 8:21 min miles / HR 163).

The other day I did done 8 miles at 8:18 min miles comfortably… and I’m feeling good when I’m out running. I’ll keep an eye on my heart rate when I’m running London, push it up to 165, but mainly I’ll be looking st pace and aiming for around 7:50-8:20 I think. All based on my training.

That might get me in at around 3:30 – 3:40 ish hopefully. So quicker than Loch Ness in 2016… hopefully I’ll push it enough to have an average HR of 165 (my race HR)… and I’ll max out above that. We will see.

As I’ve said before, I’ll be happy with whatever my time is, I’m more excited to take part and enjoy it. It’s an amazing event and achievement. I can’t wait!

I’ve done 5 marathon events and run 5 of my own marathon distances. And London was the one where I got my race strategy spot on. Have fun, keep my heart rate between 155-165 or 175 at the end… and I felt strong right up to the last mile. In my head, a better performance than any of my other marathon.

It might not have been my fastest, but it was my best, in terms of performance, experience and enjoyment.

One thing I have noticed … and here’s the excuse coming… there is one big difference between me now and my PB time – my weight… the all important holy grail to help you run fast:

Lower weight = faster / easier to run fast

(Read Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald for more on this).

In 2012-2013, I was in my best shape ever… for running. At my racing weight at between 120-124lbs… running was easy.

When I did my glasgow marathon PB I was 124lbs… I’m now 138lbs. 14lbs heavier.

I don’t really notice the difference, in how I look or feel… or even when I’m running, but it’s probably safe to say it was easier to run faster when I was a stone lighter. I’ll be carrying more, probably on my hips, and wherever else.

I was about 130lbs when I did London in 2016, so I’m only half a stone heavier than i was when I did it… but I’m not letting it be an excuse.

I’ve had many doubts in this training cycle – thinking that this is bad for me. Running long and getting to 14 miles and wondering what the f I’m doing this for. Then finishing 18 miles and feeling good at the time and directly after it, but then feeling really down the next day.

Maybe caffeine crash… or once all of the endorphins have gone. It’s something I’m aware of, and I’ll be careful of it after the marathon next week.

One thing is sure, I feel ready. Ready to run 26.2 miles (or maybe I’ll just tell myself that and I will be!)

I feel good, I feel like I’m in great shape, I’ve done my long run training, and mixed in speedwork and other runs, and I’ve also taken plenty of rest and recovery. I’ve listened to my body and run less to make sure I’m fully recovered.

I had a good race at the start of March, and I’m feeling confident and excited about next Sunday. 😎 it’s looking like it’ll be a hot day! (20’C), but hopefully I’ll be ok.

I’ll be doing garmin live track on the day, so if you want to track me, send me your email address lorn or get the London marathon tracking app and track me – number 26095.

Lastly, here’s my charity link if you’d like to sponsor me:

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