Tag Archives: pacing

Milton Keynes marathon race review

Milton Keynes marathon was my big goal race of the year, a PB attempt and an attempt to crack 3.20 for the first time. The theory being that training for the Quadzilla gave me a great base to work from in the 10 weeks leading up to the race. All was going well until 5 weeks before the race when we went on holiday to Cornwall, a great week with the kids and some nice running on the coastal path but I lost my focus and momentum and quite honestly never got it back. The final few weeks of training were ok but I missed a few sessions for various reasons and then a week before the race got ill. Somehow the stresses of life and work often seem to peak close to a race, Murphy’s law I guess, but it quickly derails your running.

Ultimately this meant a change in goal for the race from a PB attempt to just being happy to be well enough to be on the start line. ¬†And what a start line it is, lining up outside the beautiful Stadium MK (which I know sounds a bit odd but it really is a great stadium inside and out) and to top it all the clouds cleared and the sun put his hat on. While it may have been a nice start line it was most definitely not an organised one, in fact I’d go as far as to say it was chaos. The kids superhero run lining up at the front didn’t help things but there was also close to zero control of people entering the pens and the signage was crap.

There also appeared to be a confusion amongst the pacers who seemed to be standing in quite random spots, not helped by having both marathon and half marathon starters and pacers in the pens. I’d love to know whose bright idea it was to stick balloons to the pacers backs with their time goal written in felt tip on them also. Maybe the budget wouldn’t stretch to the normal flags that pacers wear? The strings were getting tangled up and then when actually running the balloons kept hitting people in the face.

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Your race is you

The gun goes bang. The crowd surges forward. Adrenaline surges around your body as the crowd’s cheers spur you forward. You feel like you are going backwards, everyone is flying past you. Shit. Is my pace wrong? Should I push on with them or stay strong? They were in my pen for target time so why are they going so much faster? Shit. No GPS watch to check the pacing, knew I should have bought one.

This is the make or break moment, the moment where you can derail your race within the first mile. I think of myself as a confident, strong person yet this is exactly the thought process that was going through my head at the start of the marathon at the weekend. All that work and planning yet a few people running past me and I was immediately questioning my plans. How crazy is that?

Yet unless you’re expecting to be pushing for the podium your race really is you. You’re the one that matters and you are your competition. In fact I might well get that tattooed on my arm to look at whenever I do a race to just remind me. It’d also make a great slogan for a running clothing company, perhaps I should trademark it?

I wonder what percent of runners in each marathon throw their race plans out within those first 100 metres simply because they give in to peer pressure? I bet it’s huge especially for first time marathoner’s who are already nervous. Marathon running is definitely a mental challenge and none more so than at the start.

I’m very happy that I managed to stay cool and stick with my pacing plan even on the second lap when I tagged onto the back of a group only to realise that they were going 20 seconds a mile or so too fast for me. I backed off and stuck with my plan even though it meant running on my own. With my attention now turning to my first ultra that mental strength is going to be much needed I think.