The rule of three?

Will my legs hold out?

Will my legs hold out?

I genuinely wasn’t aware, at the time, that my London marathon time was a good one.  But everyone, to a (wo)man has been amazed, or hugely positive, saying how fantastic it is, especially for a first marathon, and even more for a first race. So I guess, in the weight of such universal comment, I have to accept that I ran a pretty decent time. Fantastic!

The challenge it creates, of course, as I approach my second marathon, is to prove London wasn’t a fluke, a completely random blip. Well that’s one challenge – I do so want to run a similar time.

The other huge challenge is the toughness of the training. OMG, these last few months have been tough. Any training I did for London 2013 was brilliant, it was a bonus, and there was no expectation of anything. I wasn’t doing anything before, so any running I did was all good stuff. If I just finished the race that was going to be brilliant. I could get away with effectively cherry-picking the bits I didn’t mind the look of – intervals simply looked way to arduous, hill training I kind of eventually did a bit of, half-heartedly.  I kind of figured quite early on that the long runs were going to be important.  If I couldn’t get it together to run 26.2 miles in practice, how was I to imagine running 26.2 miles in the race.

Actually this was one of the things run coaches said NOT to do (which I ignored). They said don’t run 26.2 miles in practice, save it for the day. I said, how do I know I can run 26.2 miles if I don’t run 26.2 miles. So of course I ran 26.2 miles in practice. And I was pleased I did. I went into London knowing I could cover the distance.  However, this is one thing I haven’t repeated with training for no. 2 marathon, at Bournemouth on October 6th. I already know I can do the distance, so my longest training run has been the conventional 20 miles. I’ve done a few of them in training.

Anyway, back to how tough has been training for no. 2 marathon. If training for London 2013 had been tough, I clearly didn’t register it. For Bournemouth I figured I should start training 18 weeks out. I didn’t even start on time, in fact not ‘til the middle of July, so it very soon turned into a 12 week training ‘plan’, and I use the term in the loosest, most inaccurate way possible.

I did manage to overcome my ignorance of interval training. Great sessions are organised at club so I just need to turn up and do what I’m told. So at least for this marathon I’ve added in interval training.  I’ve also done hill training a bit more consistently. I did a bit for London, but it was all a bit haphazard. This time I’ve pretty much done a hill session most weeks.

So training for this second marathon has all been a bit of bumpy comedown to reality. All the naivety and novelty of the first one has evaporated. My eyes are being forced open to acknowledge it’s all a bit like hard work. Not that hard work ever deterred me, it’s just, that, well, it’s hard. Training’s been tough right from the start.

And the pressure is on. I do want to prove that London wasn’t a fluke. So much expectation. I’m going to have to go out and work at running that time. I’m going to need to have some awareness of the pace I’m setting and the pace I ought to be running. I’m not actually sure I have enough experience of running yet to gauge those things. Added to which I’ve struggled to reach that (extrapolated) time in training.

Can one’s race strategy be to rely on the notion that one runs faster on race day? I don’t even know if that notion has any basis in reality. My only strategy so far has been to put a silly short time on my application form … which means I’m in the front pen … which means I’m hoping that lots of space will open up in front of me.  I just remember in London being stymied and frustrated by having to overtake so many people that I couldn’t establish any sort of running rhythm (making awareness of pace even more difficult).

There’s just too much to think about really. Maybe I will just try to switch into those mesmeric middle miles and simply hope I’m running fast enough… doesn’t sound like the smartest race strategy either.  Oh well, most of my runs still turn into ‘simply must complete’ efforts, so maybe all this theorising about strategy is entirely irrelevant, anyway.

So onto the rule of three thing.  I’ve already entered London 2014.  I love the fact there’s this ‘good for age’ category … I imagine a slightly mocking voice saying ‘oh, she was good for her age, let’s allow her back next year’ with an ironic ‘there, there, well done’ pat on the head.

Is the first race all novelty and innocence?  The second one just imagines the innocence will continue then comes crashing down to earth as painful reality hits. Actually talking about pain I had a revelatory thought the other day – if I really want to get somewhere near my London time, I’m just going to have to accept it’ll hurt from start to finish. I’m not aware of London pain kicking in ‘til about half way (which isn’t to say it hadn’t). OK. I can do pain … she said whilst sitting casually, calmly, comfortably at home.

And then the third one, I’m already thinking, is going to be all about sheer bloody mindedness and stubbornness. I’ve said I’m going to do it. I now know it’s going to hurt like buggery, but I’m flipping well going to do it anyway. Eyes really well and truly wide open. All innocence and novelty scrubbed to faded memory. The third one looks like being about grubby, gutsy determination in the face of full knowledge of how tough and painful it’s going to be. At least that’s where my imagination is taking me as I anxiously taper for the second one. I kinda hope I’m wrong.  It would be good to imagine I might even start enjoying this running thing (rather than just enjoying it once it’s over).

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