3rd Time Not So Lucky – Blackpool Marathon 2017 race report

”By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Benjamin Franklin

1 day since the 2017 Blackpool Marathon

so following on from the last blog on Saturday night, after a good nights sleep I awoke at 6am, ate the first part of the fuel I hoped would fire me to the Sub 3hr.  Just an energy bar, coffee and banana.  A little last minute kit check, a browse through Facebook and it was time to go downstairs at 8am for what was the biggest bowl of porridge i have ever seen.  I only managed 1/2 of it but I was fueled, psyched up and ready to roll.  I made my way down to the start/finish area, hung around taking in the atmosphere while listening to music.  15min to go and I stripped my top layers off, put Vaseline on the usual chafing problems before putting my bag in the storage tent before making my way to the start.  It was already starting to get warm.  Not long then we were off heading towards the tower before dropping onto the bottom level of the promenade before we were turned right up a ramp and on to the main road.  Here we encountered a problem.
The previous 2 times I had ran the Blackpool Marathon we started with the half marathon. This meant you was constantly checking peoples numbers to see if they were in your race or not.  It was too easy to go off too fast.  The organizers had solved this by sending the marathon off towards the tower before coming onto the main road and the half away from the tower and onto the road.  The ‘Fix’ became the new issue.

As we hit the road we ran straight into the rear of the half marathon. Instead of resisting going with the front end of the speedy half runners we were instead running through and having to weave around first 3hr then 2 1/2hr and finally 2hr runners.  Every now and again an headphone wearing runner would run straight in front causing you to either run into or have to swerve around them. I could only see fleeting sights of the marathon runners around my pace. The only way was to keep checking my watches ave pace to avoid going too fast or too slow.  The first 5 miles were good on my part despite this. 6.50s being the pace i needed to ave I went through in  6.36, 6.46, 6.37, 6.45 & 6.52.

This brought us to the turnaround and back up towards Blackpool again. The wind, well breeze was now an headwind and I had made my way sufficiently through the half marathon crowds to have clear roads and being able to see my fellow marathon runners. There was still plenty of half runners to draft off then move up to the next, draft then move.  I knew I was a decent time in front of sub 3hr pace so any slight slowing into the wind and slightly uphill wasn’t catastrophic. I was taking water at each station around 3miles apart. I took a gel at 7miles and kept a level effort.  At 8miles when we were through Blackpool and making our way up the hill to Bipsham I was ave pace for the 8miles of 6.48 and HR was 160 which was a little north of ideal but I was working up uphill.  10miles were hit with splits showing 7.00, 6.58, 7.07, 7.00 & 7.03. 

So far so good and now we were approaching the turnaround and it was a straight shoot back to the start finish for lap 2.  problem is I was starting to feel the heat and water wasn’t doing it for me.  As I approached the 13mile marker I could see Emma and Lucas at the cafe drinking coffee and eating an ice cream.   Up the ramp again and back onto the road.   Now it was just the marathon runners out there heading towards Lythum St Annes with the back of the half on the other side of the road going the opposite direction.  I knew my salt deposits were low and that I had made a mistake. I had gels but only energy ones, not isogels like I usually use in a marathon. I took my 2nd gel at 14miles hence the slight pick up for mile 15.   I did have a iso tablet but i wouldn’t have time to let it dissolve in water so as I approached the station i crushed the packet in my hand and poured it into a water bottle. shook it and took on as much as my body would let me.  splits up to here start to show my start to suffer. 6.58, 7.15, 7.15, 7.17 & 6.58.

Feeling the benefit of salt i started to suck on glucose tablets.  Continuing along down till it was turnaround time at 18.5miles back up the road to Blackpool. Back into the breeze but it wasnt bad.  What was bad is I knew I was slowing and my HR was over 170bpm.  I worked my way up and thought I could continue ok. I took a couple of bites on a clif bar for actual fuel.  Sub 3hr wasnt going to happen. I was slowing too much.  19.5miles approx with no reason or warning I Inexplicably stopped to walk before getting going again. idiot!!! 7.17, 7.16, 7.24, 7.45 & 8.02

I hadnt ran further than 20miles in training so was now in fresh 2017 territory. We were now on the uphill drag to Bipsham again.  This is the worse part of the Blackpool marathon. Nothing to take your mind off your pain and the path is undulating.  I stopped yet again at 22miles and walked a lot longer but I was now seeing 8s & 9s on my split starts.  I was also feeling the lack of salt and even wished I had money on me to pop into a shop I passed to buy a isotonic sports drink. what seemed to take ages we were back onto the concrete paradise of the promenade to do the last few miles.  I was feeling the heat, low on salt but thankfully not cramping.  Just tired.  my body rejected water and food but I managed, just, to take on a gel. I stopped a couple more times to get some energy back before running again.  With 0.5miles to go I gave it my all crossing the line.  the splits for the last 10k?  8.48, 8.22, 9.11, 8.05, 9.24, 9.05 and 1.58(0.2miles).

   I grabbed my water, chocolate bar, t-shirt then the biggest medal i’ve ever received.  finishing time was 3:16.20.  Ill take that for a marathon i haven’t really trained for.

When I started the year I decided to strengthen my body in the gym for a few weeks before starting training in February.  This then became March and when I did run a 20mile it felt so easy I wondered, can you train for a sub 3hr marathon with strength, cross training and averaging 30miles per week?   Well the answer is…… I cant.  I think i needed the 60mile plus weeks with tempos & long rep speed work. I’m not saying its not possible but I think you wont run what you should be capable of without the big mileage weeks and multiple long 20mile approx runs.   I have enjoyed the training but it wasn’t right for me.  This was the Blackpool marathon ive enjoyed the most out of the 3 even if its the slowest.   no regrets.  Will I do Blackpool marathon again? NO!!   its no London Marathon. i’ve missed the entire London experience and may have trained for the marathon if it had been that.

Target 2:50.00 for Vmlm 2018 will start in good time. (around October) but for now its time to get fast 10k & 5k fit.    No doubt i will enter London next year before my GFA time runs out.

Anyway Bye For Now

I have chosen The Teenage Cancer Trust has my chosen charity for the race and you can donate by clicking Here

”I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

Jimmy Dean


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