The beauty about planning is that not all plans pan out as expected. First, I had a wedding to attend to, then forgot to buy my power gels, and finally slept at 11pm only to wake up at 2am! Follow that with a bloated stomach due to the rich foods served generously at the wedding and I immediately started wondering if I should really be doing this. At the start line, the elites from all over the provinces were already there. Nice to be running among the best, a runners dream.
I had done three 32K long runs as part of the training plan. Compared to Condura marathon, which was my first, the base race time going to the training program was lower, so at best I knew I could match my time, at least theoreticaly. Practically I was more conditioned when it came to core and had more training miles under my belt. This combined with the fact that it was my second marathon gave me the confidence to at least match my Condura or at best beat the elusive sub-3!
With no nutrition, I knew the next 3 or so hours of running would have to be executed intelligently to allow for my putative energy reserves to take me through the 42km. I had never tried it before and I knew that any deviation could easily make me “hit the wall”. The best way to approach this would be to run at a pace that would eat up more of my fat than carbohydrate reserves. Tempo runs being the guide, I chose to run the first half of it at my target pace less 10 secs. This way I could forgo my sub-3 but still finish within 3:10.
All was good and going to plan until I hit the 26th km. With the long hill to Upper Mckinley Hill road (I thought the turn around was at the American cemetery as it has always been!) facing me, knee stiffness commonly known as runners’ knee hit me. Having researched on it I came across this … “…when it comes to runner’s knee, biology is destiny: Blame your parents, they gave you feet like yours! Anyone whose foot rolls inward (pronation) during a stride is a candidate…”. I said to myself, it will go away once I hit the downhill back. It did not. Knowing the nature of injuries, I knew this is the time to cut my loses and slow down to my LSD pace. Anything above that and I risk injuring my knee.
At the 37th km, the nutrition side had worked. I had enough reserves and I could feel it. I was joined by the slackers who could not bother to go the distance and we escorted each other to the finish line. My Soleus watch said I did 43.34km argh! I manged to finish the distance 1 second, yes you heard it right, a single second better than my condura marathon. The best part of it was that I finsihed strong and recovered even faster.
As I look forward to my third marathon (I swore I’ll do only 1 every year!), and it will be different as usual (I hate repeating the same route), I know it will be different from the other two. It will also be better. Lessons learned from this apart from the ones I enumerated above is that investing in good shoes and socks (I finished blister free!) also plays a huge part in long runs.