Two years ago I ran my first marathon and it was awful. I’d signed up for the London Marathon ballot after the 2013 edition and didn’t expect to get a place on my first attempt. When the ballot places were announced later that year, my pack didn’t arrive as I hadn’t updated my address, so a couple of weeks after everyone else I finally found out over the phone that I had a place. It felt a bit weird and anticlimactic, which set the tone for training and the race itself.
The race itself I wrote about here. Looking back at my training log, in the 12 weeks running up to the big day I ran an average of 33km a week. I did one 30km run, one 27km run and nothing else over 24km. I generally ran three times a week and these runs were pretty much all at the same speed, although the long run was usually slower. I felt like I was running a lot, but I’ve done the same average distance each week this year, and it’s not felt like loads.
When I crossed the line outside Buckingham Palace I felt pleased, but I distinctly remember going along the Embankment feeling really pissed off. I didn’t enjoy how busy the race was but I was also really annoyed at myself for running such a poor race. I decided that maybe marathons weren’t for me. I decided that it was too hard, too far, too much training.
People say that you should respect the marathon distance, but not fear it. I was absolutely terrified of it.
Already this year I’ve completed a 31 day runstreak and feel a lot more confident about my running. I got some great advice on my technique last year (arms down! knees up!) and feel like I’m running a lot better. I’ve got two half marathons booked for the early part of this year and ran across a Greek island at the very end of last year.
So for some reason I decided to enter a marathon again!
I wanted something small and low key (unlike London!) and easy to get to (not abroad, however tempting). I remembered a friend telling me about a marathon he’d done where you ran along country lanes, passing through small villages every couple of miles. That sounded perfect – the occasional cheer but lots of solitude. I decided to sign up for the same one.
It’s Halstead & Essex Marathon, on the 8th May. The course is “undulating” (ie. will kick my arse on the hills) but scenic, and there are around 500 runners.
I’m genuinely excited.