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Thursday
May312012

Missing a Target Time

One of the things I love about long distance running and entering races is that the competition is really only between me and me! I’m nowhere near the level to even think I could win a marathon, but equally I know that with all the thousands of people also running I’m certainly not going to come last!

Like most people, the first time I ever signed up for a full marathon I was aiming for the predictable four hour mark (which I missed by a massive fifteen minutes). However, I learned an awful lot and having run a full marathon knew exactly what to change for the next races, which then lead me to knock off a massive thirty minutes leaving me totally elated and in a state of mild euphoria for several weeks after the event!

Needless to say, when you start achieving times you never thought possible in the first place it gets rather addictive to see exactly what times you are able to do for an amateur runner. So when I finished the Dublin marathon in 3:30 I actually (and rather embarrassingly) cried a little after I crossed the finish line. I had also suffered a knee problem from half way and had actually focussed on just finishing the race rather than attempting a personal best. It was simply one of those races where everything came together: weather was perfect; I felt strong; I was well hydrated; the route was fab; the organisation was spot on. I could go on but it gets dull!

So, after experiencing several years of just getting faster and faster (and it doesn’t need to be by much, a couple of minutes here and there still creates the same feelings of joy) when you then have a race where you’re aiming for something really special (for you as an individual knowing your body and previous ability) when you miss that new target time it can absolutely ruin an entire weekend of marathon fun.

Knowing that my fitness is better than it has ever been; and taking into account the Dublin achievement, I was hoping to smash that 3:30 barrier and was therefore aiming for a respectable 3:20 when I ran the Prague Marathon a few weeks ago*. Sadly, unlike Dublin, Prague did not go the same way. Lack of sleep for the two nights prior to race day, my old knee problem that I had been having physiotherapy for, and elevated pressure (that I admit was only created by me to perform well) meant that I missed out on a personal best by six minutes. In running terms, that’s massive. However, friends have been very supportive and when trying to cheer me up don’t really think it’s the big deal that I’m making it out to be.

I crossed the finish line grumpy and cold and wanting to hide from friends and family that had travelled all the way to Prague to cheer me on...and then watch me fail. It’s only now, three weeks later, that I can feel a little sense of achievement that I’ve run six marathons which, in itself, is pretty good, but (as petty as it sounds) missing out on a new personal best after months of training and preparation feels (or felt) like an absolute waste of time and energy.

All that said and done, I am still convinced that with the continuing treatment on my knee, a well structured training plan (I have been known to simply rock up with little marathon training and just run Forest Gump stylee!) I’m confident (and excited) that I could run a 3:20 marathon. Barcelona is my next stop to achieve this goal, but if for whatever reason it doesn’t go my way I am going to try very hard not to throw my toys out of my pram and appreciate it’s still an accomplishment (did that sound convincing?!)

If you compete, whether it’s running, biking, triathlons etc. you’ll know exactly what I mean...so roll on 2013 when personal bests aim to be smashed!   

 

*I appreciate, for a lot of runners, that’s still not a super fast time but, for me, that would be an immense achievement!

 

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