Unfortunately, the last race of my season (Ironman California) was called off due to a cyclone, which meant 40mph and rain (in Sacramento - it just doesn’t rain). This had me a little deflated as I didn’t have the opportunity to finish the season with one final effort.
Chatting with my coaches we decided that I should target a Marathon in December. I had a little down time back end of October and this meant that I had a clear goal to work towards in 4/5weeks time. Although, I wasn’t going to “race” it necessarily, the goal was simple. Run a strong 2:40, as this is something that I want to work towards in an ironman over the next season or two.
The race was at Goodwood racetrack on a cold Sunday morning. The wind had made another appearance (I think it follows me around these days). It was 11 laps, half a lap into the wind, half a lap with the wind behind you! I had a nutrition strategy which included alternating Maurten 100 gels on the odd laps, and Precision Hydration 1500 electrolyte drink on the evens. I didn’t want to stress about the nutrition, but I think this was a safe amount.
As always the gun goes and I was running 3-5sec a km too fast. This had me torn, it could be good to bank a few extra seconds incase I did hit the wall at 20 miles, or I was going to get in trouble from my coach for going too hard when I promised I would just run it controlled!
Anyway, I took the first option and deposited a few extra seconds in the bank incase the dreaded wall made an appearance! And I think I got to around 37/38km before it started to creep up on me! I finished strong for a 2:38 marathon. Goal achieved, and definitely gave me a lot of confidence knowing that it was a safe effort, and the first time I had ran the distance not in an Ironman!
A few reflections I had post the event were mainly down to how could I have ran faster, how could I have fuelled better, what’s possible in an ironman?
In short, yes I think I could have ran faster (but I didn’t need too!) the day was windy and that made the effort into the headwind burn a match every time, and there was 11 laps! My training in the build up mainly consisted of 50km run weeks for about 5 weeks after an off season, so fitness shouldn’t have been near peak. The course because very littered with athletes due to the different paces and events they were running all at the same time, for this reason you would have to zig zag a little to make your way around people. My watch recorded the marathon almost a half km long.
How could I have fuelled better? In short. More of the same. I’ve found products that my body really responds too. What I didn’t is risk the amount of intake I was having so only took around 50g of carbs an hour. I know from experience I can do over 100g on the bike. So more area to push this!
What’s possible in an ironman? The question that everybody wonders. For me it has given me a lot of confidence, do I think I can run a 2:38 in my next IM - probably not, but I know that for an effort over a long time I can run at that speed. Refining my nutrition, running economy, and ability to run faster at a lower intensity means that I have a ceiling that is higher than before I did the marathon!