Its been quite a journey. I entered Chester in 2012 but due to some hamstring issues I didnt make the start line. The build up last year wasnt great with some injury issues and a lack of marathon focus. In the school report it would say something like "Andrew is easily distracted!" or "Andrew has potential for the marathon but he lacks a consistent approach!".
2013 has been a different but equally challenging build up to the marathon. My build up started around Mid June with a few long runs thrown into the usual training plan. Nothing any where near marathon pace but long enough to put a decent marker in the sand. The more specific stuff with marathon pace sections started in July, continued into August and early September ready for an experimental four week taper throughout September into early October.
To be honest I couldnt ask for a better build up, that is until the final week when I raced a 5km around the Coast Road. Although I finished 4th in 16.36 I struggled for a good week or 10 days post race with hamstring issues. The knock on effect of that was that the last long run planned to be a 22/23 miler with the last few miles at marathon pace became a 14 miler struggling to get anywhere near marathon pace. The final week of 80 miles became a 60 mile week and there was a general feeling of the taper just not being a taper but actually about rehab and trying to overcome niggles. To give me the confidence back I opted for a 2 hour run two weeks before the marathon. Recovery from this coupled with a few decent paced runs and a couple of light 10km based interval sessions meant that despite the taper issues (Im sure every marathon runner will get these!) I would start on the line at Chester with the best possible chance of a personal best.
And so race day...
Fantastic day, couldnt ask for better weather and the event was run like clockwork. Chester was Number 1 marathon in the UK last year and it is easy to see why!
The aim for the race was to get under 2 hours 45. This would be an all time personal best and open up the opportunity of racing at london next year through the championship entry route.
10km - 38:28 29th Position
20km - 1:16.56 28th Position
Half Way - 1:21.10 - 27th Position
30km - 1:55.12 24th Position
40km - 2:34.35 20th Position
End - 2:43.42 20th Position.
My fastest 10km split was between 20 and 30km where I posted 38.16. My fastest (Garmin) mile was mile 15 with 5:58. The slowest mile (6:43) was mile 26. I wasnt overtaken at all during the marathon and went from 29th place at 10km through to 20th place at the finish.
Compare this to Sunderland in 2012 where my fastest mile was mile 9 with a 5:53 and the slowest mile being Mile 26 again with a 7:39.
In fact the major difference between Sunderland in 2012 and Chester in 2013 was the fact that in Chester I felt more in control of pace for longer and actually found myself holding back in the middle section of the race. The middle section at Sunderland where I got myself too involved in the "race" meant five consecutive miles at sub 6 minute pace - too quick by far and I paid for this in the last six miles.
Direct comparisons of the last 6 miles :
Sunderland vs Chester
6:18 vs 6:17
6:17 vs 6:16
6:41 vs 6:20
7:13 vs 6:17
7:18 vs 6:29
7:39 vs 6:44
Whilst I was certainly slowing at Chester in the final few miles I certainly wasnt slowing as rapidly as I did at Sunderland last year.
What are the key learning points for future marathons?
- Stick to the plan and commit to the training.
- Be confident in your training to stick to race pace on race day
Race Winner Marius Ionsecu with Race Director Chris!