Amster-damn: Looking for answers

27th October 2014

Amster-damn: Looking for answers

I've had a number of races this year which haven't gone to plan. The Surrey Half Marathon in March, Manchester Marathon in April and the London 10k in May were all below expectations but this is the first time I can honestly say I really don't know what went wrong. Before the others my prep had been less than perfect and I'd been carrying a couple of extra pounds but, as my previous blog suggested, I travelled to Amsterdam in the best running shape I'd ever been in - I left with a personal worst time of 2:48.50.

What went wrong? I don't really know. I know that in the week leading up to the race my confidence seemed to drop with every passing day - I don't know why this happened. I haven't had problems with confidence or the mental side of racing since I was 19 and a rower but it seemed like I was looking for things to knock my confidence: a slightly slower than expected cross country race; a niggling calf (which wasn't an issue at all on race day) and the weather conditions being slow. If I'm being truly honest with myself, when I stood on the start line I didn't think I could break 2h26m.

In light of the above perhaps the physical things were a result of having psyched myself out but I had some GI issues on the morning of the race (although these did clear by the gun), the conditions were particularly slow (windy, warm and 90% humidity - the winning times were affected by 2-5 minutes) and it generally felt much more difficult than it should have done. Two weeks before I ran 14.5 miles in 2h24m ish pace and whilst it felt challenging it was manageable. In Amsterdam I felt spent by 12 miles and I wasn't even holding 2m26m pace. Maybe I should have shifted my expectations by another minute but ego wouldn't let me do it, suffice to say I knew by half way any hope of a PB was long gone and I crumbled. I came very close to quitting, at one point I actually stopped but the only thing which kept me going was the fact that at the time stepping off the course would have been more humiliating than continuing to run. I am extremely glad I didn't and the encouragement of those who came with me to spectate and the numerous people along the route who cheered the Serpentine vest meant I wasn't going to stop, even if the last few miles felt more like the end of an Ultramarathon.

After seven days of no running, the longest I've done since I took up the sport, I have gained a few pounds and some perspective. Last week I was about ready to throw in the marathon towel for a bit; now I'm on the fence. I have until Christmas to decide if I'm going to have another tilt at London and until then I'm going to enjoy getting muddy racing some Cross Country and ultimately the next big goal is the Percy Pud 10k up in Sheffield this December, where I'm hoping that 5 weeks of solid training (and laying off the cakes!) can net me a big PB.


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