Racing a marathon three weeks before your target marathon race is neither ideal or recommended.  Manchester marathon however was always in my build up for London as my last hard long run but in the few days leading up to the race my approach to it changed.  The race itself was one of the four qualifying races for the English Masters marathon team.  The qualifying time for selection is 2:50 with the requirement to finish in the top five of your age category.  On paper this looked achievable and the original plan was to run it comfortably hard and hope to the finish as one of top five of the V35 men.  However, it was never going to be that straight forward and after receiving the entry list for the race it was quite clear I was going to have to change my approach.  Judging by the guys in my age group, 2:35-2:40 would be well outside of the top five.  After discussing with my coach we agreed to have a crack at the sub 2:30 target that has always been the focus for London this year.  Despite my reservations of it being to early, the opportunity of gaining an England vest was too good not to at least try!  After an encouraging and motivating message exchange with Jason Cherriman, who is one of the inspirational marathon runners I've always looked up, my decision was well and truly made.

 

The course itself is billed as flat and fast, and the weather forecast was for perfect conditions on race day.  Rather than my original plan of driving up on the morning of the race I managed to get another pass out and stayed just outside of Manchester on Saturday night.  I'd taken up the option of being able to have my drinks placed out on the course, which meant having to drop them off on Saturday at marathon HQ.  Drinks dropped off and I made my way to Woodford where I was staying for the night and settle in for the evening.

 

 

I was up early on race morning as usual and made my way to Manchester in plenty of time to avoid a last minute rush before the race started.  The race itself went perfectly as planned going through half way in 1:13:01.  The plan was to pick up the pace from half way, by this point though I'd been cut adrift from the group I was after picking up the pace for two and half miles it became clear I wasn't going to last at that pace, especially with plenty of hard running left on my own. A slight head wind had now also started to pick up, probably not by much but it felt like it had!  Psychologically or physically I'd lost focus and momentum.  In a nutshell though my second half became a tremendous fade to finish in 2:28:51 and a positive split of 1:15:50.  The 2:30 barrier was finally well and truly broken through and a PB of 3 minutes and 17 seconds, ridding myself of five years of marathon disappointment.  How I felt crossing the finish line is perfectly summed up in the picture!

Unfortunately though despite comfortably being under the 2:30 barrier I finished 7th in my age category so no England vest this time round but I'm not letting that fact bring me back down from cloud nine, for the time being anyway!  Racing Manchester was always going to be a risk but only time will tell now as to how risky it was this close to London.  With only three weeks now until London the focus is recovering in time, and ideally shedding a few pounds to get to race weight.  Then I can go to London fully focused without the pressure of breaking the 2:30 barrier but fully committed to nail another marathon PB.  

 

 

 

 

 

This weeks training

  am pm
Monday Easy 40 minutes Easy 40 minutes
Tuesday Aerobic 6 miles with strides -
Wednesday Easy 40 minutes -
Thursday Easy 45 minutes with strides -
Friday Easy 30 minutes -
Saturday Easy 20 minutes including strides and 1/2 mile at marathon pace -
Sunday Manchester Marathon  -

Total miles for the week - 65.3