When & Where:
Cyprus, Limassol, March 2018
Why I ran this course:
Daryl was going. Remember, when Daryl asks, I say yes… Daryl, Yvette and Myself signed up to the full Marathon, Bernadas to the Half and Brigita was on cheering duties and keeping us all in check.
Dull. A lap of some industrial areas. Then straight along a major road up the coast. Then back. Flat though. The coast was nice (as expected). Whilst a good course for racing, I don’t think it provides any mental stimulus.
Smooth. Slick. Professional. The team did a great job in preparing and advertising the event. The were good with correspondence providing plenty of information and were quick to respond to queries.
I avoided most of the experience though as a friend collected my pack for me.
Most of the volunteers were young school kids mostly. They did alright. Not hugely enthusiastic and I suspect bored of it all for later runners.
Mostly not there as it was an out and back course. Few congregations around major hotels and water points though. I presume around the finish it was a good atmosphere. The event village had a stand with DJs.
The prep was per usual. Plenty of mileage covered. Physically I was there. A marathon (over two runs) the week before was easy although unnecessary. Mentally, I was a bit of a mess. Malta has changed things. My mind couldn’t get away from the thought that a sub 3 was possible. So many ways to approach this but after dwelling on it I decided I’d go for it. Get it. Get it out of the way and enjoy the rest of the marathons with out the pressure I was suddenly feeling here. So that’s what I decided to do.
My math (google and someone else’s math) told me a 2:59 marathon would need an average pace of 6:50 min/mile. That’s a big ask. Finding 3 mins off my last time across 26 miles is not easy. The way I decided to find this was to go with a heavily top loaded strategy. I thought I’d go for 6:20 pace for ten miles (5 mins in the bag for later) and 6:40 for the next 10 (another 3 in the bag for later). Then the last 6 miles I can drop to 7:50 or below and eat those reserve minutes up.
So off I went. And to plan I mostly stuck. Early splits were a little over 6:20 but I wasn’t too worried. It dawned on me around mile 6 that my breathing was heavier/ more noticeable than previous runs. But it would be right. I was flying. I mostly kept pace with various groups of other runners. At one point forming a sort of peloton as we hid from the slightly oncoming (mostly side) wind.
Hitting the 10 mile mark my pace had dropped to 6:30 for the last few miles. I felt ok though so promised to try and make it up by sustaining this pace till the half way mark. A high five and cheer from Brigita and I was motivated through. Some gels collected too. I thought I’d need these this time. It was now time for the mental game. The long straight and back half marathon lay ahead. It was dull. No way around it. Head down. Plot on through. Clapping and cheering the few supporters out on the route and the elites coming back the other way.
I was struggling with my target pace but was hovering under the 7 min mile mark. I wasn’t bothered. I knew the miles were in the bag. I was watching the average pace slowly increase with each passing mile. As long as they were in sync, a ratio of 2 seconds per mile would even see me come home on time. Besides. I still had the contingency minute as I’d planned for a 2:59. All it meant was the last 6 miles would need a bit more effort is all.
And so it continued. Long. Straight. Pace watching. Slowing slightly each mile. I started to get overtaken around mile 22 but also overtook a few myself. I still felt good.
I remember noticing I had two miles to go. Annoying. Thought it would be one mile by now. I was around 7:30 pace. It would be tight for the sub 3. But I was confident. I knew we’d turn into the final stretch with about 1/2 a mile to go (I measured it on the way out) I told myself, get there, get passed the turn then you can check the watch. If it’s gone 2:56, go for it. Last half mile. If not, relax. You’ve got this.
I never got to check the watch. Or at least next time I did check the watch it was 11:30. I should have finished at 10:30. I was in a medical tent. Something had gone wrong. Very wrong. I must have passed out. I recorded my first Did Not Finish. I’m okay with that. Better than I thought I’d be. But now I need to figure out what happened….
None for me! Well, apart from oxygen and fluids. I hear there were massages, freeze spray and beer. The medal looked good. The t-shirts you needed to buy. Pah