Published in Reports on 25th April 2016
It all started in January when plans were being laid for the year. There was lots of chat going on of going to Manchester and I thought well it’s not a scenic marathon so if I am to do it I will have to train hard and race it. It fitted in with plans at home as nobody had any race plans for the first part of the year so it was my turn to put my own training first - so I had no excuses! The previous year I did the HR analysis with Matt Bidwell and got my infamous Zones. Many had such success with the HR training the previous year, it was obvious that this was the way to go – I knew it was going to be tough and would involve a lot of lonely long runs which is what prevented me using it before this (anyone that knows me know I love my long runs for the chat and the banter)
Fortunately I had a few great training buddies in Siobhan Mary and Angela (who was training for Milan) but unfortunately I never got to spend much time with them as these Zones were ruling the roost. Initially the long runs were tough but after 6 or so weeks they became more manageable and mentally not as daunting. A 2 minute pb in the Kinvara half helped with the motivation and confirmed that the training was working.
We headed to Manchester on the Saturday morning collected our numbers and spent the afternoon and evening carb loading – how much carbs can you possible eat in a day???
Marathon morning we were up at 6 and more carbs and of course lots of coffee – I had been off coffee for a week so not sure which I was more relieved about the fact that marathon day had arrived or I could again drink coffee – Yes like most runners I LOVE my coffee. Everything was very relaxed at the start line, no barriers you could go where you liked no queues for toilets – not like the bag drop where many got delayed and hardly made it to the start line – But we had our ever reliable and helpful team manager in the form of Jim Leahy who dropped our bags for us.
The race plan, thanks to Matt was to get to mile 5 in Zone 1 and after that do what you did in training which for me was low zone 2. For those not familiar with HR training we used to rotate our long runs every 2nd week between Z1 and Z2. Normally Z1 for me would be avg 8min miles and Z2 7.45s. So the plan was to average 7.45s for the full race and hopefully come home between 3.23 and 3.25.
So the start gun goes and we walk and everyone is wondering where the start line is – We were informed it was under the bridge so once we got to the bridge we started our watches and started to run then about 20secs later we see the start mat ahead and stop our watches to restart them again once we got to the mat
I knew it took me about 15mins to get into zone so I just ignored the watch and ran easy for the first two miles . The next few miles I kept it in low Z1 but the miles clocked by 7.23/7.22/7.23/7.10 and I thought shit this is too fast eventhough I felt comfortable, but I have enough marathon experience to know that it can all go wrong very quickly and the early miles are the dangerous ones. I decided to reign it in a little and try and keep it in Z1 but at the same time watching the pace - no point having a great half marathon!!!
At about mile 10 I hit Z2 and feeling comfortable or as comfortable as you can in a marathon. I knew the mile markers weren’t to be relied on so I just ignored them and followed the watch. Each mile clocked by and they averaged 7.30’s so I just kept telling myself keep this going till mile 22 and see what happens. Then I see the mile 22 sign and just think 4 miles to go – and I’m not dying yet so I can do it its only 4 miles!!!
I knew Jim was going to be at mile 23 with coke so when I saw the next mile marker a few minutes later I thought brilliant COKE and then I see the mile marker is 22 and I thought shit did I not just pass that but put it down to marathon brain and kept going. It must have been at this point that I checked my watch time versus my pace band (which was for 3.23) and I see I am ahead by a minute so had a little chat with myself 4 miles to go so even if I can keep it under 8 min miles I will make 3.25 which was the main goal. Just for the record it wasn’t marathon brain they did actually have 2 22 mile markers!
So I pushed on but the calves were getting tight and tighter and I thought right just keeping moving forward at a pace that the calves won’t cramp – then I see the finishing line which is a long run in or at least it seemed that way and I have a look at my watch 3.17 – what the f*ck – First thoughts were had I stopped the watch or when had I restarted it at the start line was I a mile down the road. Ok Maeve just keep going and you might get under sub 3.20 – Then I see the clock and see 3.20 but I knew I definitely had a minute to spare from the slow walk to the start line and there it is – 3.18 on my watch could I possibly have done that time - was it a mistake – Did I take a shortcut unknowst to myself – Distance on watch 26.46 miles .
I cannot put into words how I felt relieved to be finished but overjoyed with the time I stayed looking at the watch wondering what just happened there or was it a dream I was going to wake up from. Then Martin arrived in and I was telling him of my doubts and he stayed confirming that the time was right . But it was only when Mary relayed the viber messages and the times that I could relax and enjoy the celebrations and did we celebrate that night.
Fair play to Jane Ann she had dinner all researched and booked so all we had to do was turn up. Of course we were the last to leave the restaurant and the poor bar men were taking no bribes for extra drinks no matter how much we insisted . Its great to see that while everyone didn’t have an ideal day that night they all celebrated and had the craic . Any day we complete a marathon is a good day – times may not always go our way but its brilliant to be able to do it and even better with a group of friends.
And our dart farts champions for 2016 are – drum roll – Siobhan Guinan and Pat McDonagh – I’m saying no more ye will all have to come to Manchester next year to find out!!
Report: Maeve Noone