In two days’ time, I’ll be toeing the line at Caernarfon Castle for my second Half Marathon of the year. Well, to be honest, I won’t even see the start line until I’ve shuffled forward with the back markers a few minutes after the gun, but you know what I mean.
It hasn’t felt like the most confidence-inducing preparation for me, and given that I’d hoped to improve somewhat on my Rhyl Half, I should by now, be feeling despondent. But I’m actually quite chipper.
I had mentioned, at some point back, that I’m thinking of giving the Marathon another shot next year around my 50th birthday next September. Initially, I thought I’d decide after this Sunday’s Half. If I improved a fair amount, then I can tell myself that I’m on an upward trajectory and keep going; If I was pants, then I’d ditch the dream.
In the past four weeks, however, while I’ve been struggling to hit ten miles without some walking, something has been bubbling inside me, and it appears I can’t throw my Marathon ambitions away so easily.
Even when I’ve got back after some exhausting training, the excitement hasn’t dimmed, which is incredibly unusual for my glass-half-empty tendencies. So it looks like I’m going for it next year regardless of Sunday’s outcome.
With that in mind I’ve formulated a vague plan. In order to try and reach my ultimate goal of a sub 5-hour marathon in September, I need to be able to finish a Marathon in the first place, so I’m going to run one in April.
So I’m running a marathon to train for a marathon? Well, yes, kind of.
When I ran my two marathons back in 2015, my first one, in London (April) felt unbelievably tough. Even with two 20 mile training runs under my belt, I got to the end, wobbling, talking aloud to myself, and borderline medically delirious. Luckily I’d booked the second one in Athens (November) before I’d run London, because that experience alone would have killed all future running for me.
Athens felt wonderful, relatively. I didn’t have any faster time, as I was running with my mate but it was way more enjoyable. My longest training run for that one had been one 16 miler. But that took just over two and a half hours and my best Half time was sub two hours. The difference was that my legs had become stronger over the year, and I had become quicker by default.
This Sunday, I’ll be pleased if I get the Half done in the same time it took me to do 16 miles then, but I’m not going to beat myself up about it, because I’ve got a long term goal, and this is just one little step towards it.