Leicester marathon 2015

Back in September, right around the IAU 100km championships (which, needless to say, I gave a pass), and having all but given up hope of ever getting back into shape, I noticed that my running was slowly improving again. I carefully pushed the pace a little, upped the mileage slightly and was happy to note that my body stayed in one piece. I decided to run a marathon, just for fun. And so on a nice Autumn morning in late October, I lined up at the start line of the Leicester marathon, exactly one year after my retirement from competitive ultra running.

Previous editions of the Leicester marathon had been won in about 2h35'-2h40'. In the back of my mind, I was hoping that I might be able to win the race. There's no contradiction between wanting to win and my earlier statement that I entered the race for fun. After all, there's nothing quite as much fun as winning :-) After six (slightly downhill) miles in 32'56", I found myself in the company of two other runners, Alex Brooks and Matthew Lalor. At half marathon point (76'), Brooks had dropped behind and I had to battle it out with Lalor, who was looking really strong. All I could hope for was that he overplayed his hand and would get cramps or something in the latter stages of the race. Alas for me, this didn't happen and at around 20 miles I had to let him go. The final six miles were a bit of a struggle not the least because I was getting really thirsty (*). I lost nearly four minutes to Lalor (who improved his marathon PB by nearly an hour!) and finished in 2h38'06". Which is okay. On a faster course, with a bit more training and more drinking water, I think I've still got a sub-2h30' marathon in me.

Now that I feel a bit stronger again, I'm beginning to make plans for next year. These include the Barry 40 in March (perhaps), the London marathon in April (definitely) and London-Brighton in May (definitely). I'm not planning to ever train as much as I did prior to 2015, but at least it's nice to look ahead rather than behind.

Finally, I should say a few words about my mother, who never had a competitive bone in her body. Until recently. She picked up running at age 58, ran her first marathon at age 60, and never looked back. She's 65 now and just ran a Belgian age group record: 3h42'! And there I was, thinking that my competitive running career was over at 39 :-)

(*) A request for race organisers: please serve water in bottles or paper cups. It is impossible to drink from a plastic cup whilst running at full speed!


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