Sub-3:30 will be mine!
Yep, I’m going to be running the Virgin London Marathon again in April 2014.
Yep, I managed to defy the odds, not once but twice, to obtain a second ballot place in a row. To give this some context, it’s widely believed that there is a rough 1 in 7 chance of getting in via the ballot, though this figure will be dubious to many that have been rejected time after time over the years. Many runners last year looked at me in disbelief when I told them I had a much coveted ballot place – I’d better get used to that look again…
Maybe luck runs in my family because the only other person I know to have gained two ballot places besides me is my cousin, Bruce (yes, his name is Bruce Li).
Anyway, I’m chuffed to bits that some running god upstairs has seen fit to give me another opportunity to break sub-3:30 in the London Marathon.
Lightning strikes twice!
The 2013 race was a huge learning curve for me so next year’s outing will be a different affair.
In training, I did plenty of long runs where my 5 longest attempts added up to 100 miles. What I neglected was running at race pace, which was and still is 8 minutes per mile for a 3:30 finish. This time, I will start my long run training much sooner to build in breathing room for a potentially bad winter and also to space out my long runs, so that I can periodically run a shorter distance at race pace.
I also neglected speedwork, where my fastest run of the week was Parkrun. There is a very clear correlation between my Parkrun PBs plateauing between January and April and me taking on the long run training. I will include one session a week of something like fartlek or hill reps to complement Parkrun and to help maintain my speed; I was shocked by how much leg turnover I had lost after the marathon and how much work it took to get it back, taking maybe 6 weeks of focused effort.
My estimation of my ability was far too conservative when I originally applied for the 2013 race. Registering with a time of 4:10 and it being my first marathon, the organisers saw fit to dump me into pen 8 out of 9. This time, I’ve put forward a finish of 3:20 and also had no need to tick the first marathon box on application. That should already bump me up to pen 5 or 6 by my guess to allow for a much better first half. I used up too much energy dodging, weaving and surging earlier this year due to slower runners getting in my way which left me fatigued and whacked for the second half.
Suz West and my old university buddy Kevin are both big advocates of 20 mile races during marathon training. It presents you with the perfect opportunity to test and trial your marathon strategy, but without the full distance to leave you completely wiped-out. Dom and I are looking at the Reading Bramley 20 in mid-February for this attempt, which coincides perfectly for his Rome Marathon. Dave and I also plan to get the Silverstone Half Marathon in during early March.
I’ll take whatever support I can get from the crowds
Finally, I am so having my name displayed on my running vest. It sounded so cheesy when I’d read about people doing it but from mile 20 onwards out on the course, I wish I had people shouting my name and telling me how well I was doing. Whilst in Manchester yesterday, Lis and I found some pre-cut letters from Afflecks Palace which look a bit neater than our original felt idea.
I will need to call on the help of Team Beetroot to help me through this. The countdown to marathon race day begins.