Most running blogs, and runners in particular, have a vaguely autistic obsession in statistics and the facts and figures associated with completing a big run (splits). The justification for this is that the analysis of the figures will help improve their performance in the future.
I’ve used the same excuse when caught by my mother with a few porn mags back in the day.
If you’re particularly observant you’ll notice that this blog is what you might call light on the stats and heavy on the opinions.
The table below should serve several purposes. It should satisfy the stats monkeys as to how you run a 3:47 marathon on a hilly course with no training. It should also put to bed that eternal question that most runners struggle to answer: what do you think about when you run?
The format is pretty self-explanatory.
You can get the course here for ease of reference!
|Mile||Mile Split||Course Terrain||What was generally going through my head.|
|1||8:48||Flat & coastal||Like Withnail, who went on holidays by mistake, I think I’m running a marathon by mistake. That and I hope I don’t need to go to the toilet too soon.|
|2||8:24||Flat & coastal||I should have brought sunglasses – the sun is really low. This doesn’t feel too bad.|
|3||8:23||Flat and rural||Am I running too fast or too slow? It’s hard to tell. It’s all just wind in my ears and the sound of panting (others panting– I’m running effortlessly). Why do people run these marathons in flip-flops and vibrams? Roads are hard.|
|4||8:34||Flat and starting to climb||These rural roads are a bit grim. Bog Gothic grim.The hat comes off and goes into the front of the shorts – this will keep the block and tackle warm and make me look like a “good prospect” to any lonely girls who spot me out on the course.|
|5||8:58||Ascent||A conversation with another runner is distracting my Woody Allen level of self-analysis. There’s a nice looking ass on that lady 15m ahead of me. That should stop me thinking of the meaning of life.|
|6||8:22||Plateau||I see the flood repair work they did to the side of the road last January is holding up well. I wonder should I take a Gel now. I only have two. I think I’ll wait for mile 8.|
|7||8:12||Descent||If I was mad into running I’d call this opening up and stretching the legs. I’m just glad to be done with that barren hill and able to run on through Castlefreake.|
|8||8:21||Sharp Ascent||Here comes that “character building” hill. I think I’ll stop for a wee on this one and have a gel. I’ll loose less time. Why am I out here doing this?|
|9||8:53||Undulating||Why is there a very large man cycling a rickshaw dressed as Santa Claus in the middle of the road? The scenery is amazing. Those horses are still there – they look so wild! My inner woman is coming out in me – loving horses? WTF is wrong with me?|
|10||8:17||Ascent||Now I feel like the running is going OK. I’m gone past the start phase and I’m not on the home straight yet. Nothing is very sore although the left hamstring (back of the arse) feels tighter than is good for a marathon. I think I’ll add a berocca to my water.|
|11||8:23||Descent||Back to the beach. I’ve got to bring the kids here for some beach combing! A few jaffa cakes and a half cup of coke here was a bit of a treat.|
|12||8:27||Ascent||Here we go with the climbing. I wonder how Santa finds these one off houses way out in the country. I’m sweating like a glass blowers arse as well. Is that because I’m giving it too much or that it’s actually warm. I’d better pull down the girlie arm warmers I’ve been wearing since the start.|
|13||8:43||Ascent||Half way in about 1:50. Not bad I suppose. I can still see the 3:45 balloons ahead and I’m passing plenty of people now as well. That’s good. But I am still overwhelmed by the thought “why am I doing this?”. Lots of cow shit on the road.|
|14||9:05||Ascent||A nice wave from the lonely Guard at the cross roads. I wonder what he thinks about this. Probably on double time in the run up to Christmas. This hill just doesn’t give up, does it!|
|15||9:16||Flat with a bit of a fall||At last, around the bend and into Ardfield. I’m on my own now and I’m happier. I can concentrate on being nobody for the rest of the race and start to shed the other labels that I carry around with me all the time.|
|16||8:43||Ascent||Oh God, here come the hills again, would they ever just hurry up and be done. I’m growing tired of this now. I have definitely gone on holidays by accident.That girl at mile 5 is now having a wee in a gateway – Don’t look – but I can’t help myself. How do you do that with your pants still on?She doesn’t seem to think I’m a good prospect. I’d better add the arm warmers to the hat.|
|17||9:11||Descent||At last, a bit of a drop. The views are spectacular. I’ve spent too much time away from this landscape this year and it really is food for the soul – this must mean I’m getting old – food for the soul -|
|18||8:22||Descent||I should be falling down this hill but my heart just isn’t in it. Disinterested is how I’d describe this bit. Still, I’m distracted by the two women dressed as plum puddings and all the other’s I’m passing now.I’d better have that second gel now, just to be sure.|
|19||8:49||Rolling hills||These hills in the lead up to Dunmore House have lots of people walking. If I keep this slow trot up I’ll pass loads of them without event trying.I can hear Ger O’Brien behind me. I’ll use my sore hip excuse if he comes past me – to be fair, it is sore.I think I need a piss.|
|20||8:54||Along to coast||Ger and this other guy are slowing down to chat. This is a welcome relief from my own head. I’d be a useless hermit! This conversation is enjoyable. The hill at the end of this mile along with the Irish attitude to things and my blog are what we’re talking about. I remind myself to order a book on mindfulness after this marathon.|
|21||10.01||The Hill||I’ve run this hill before and it doesn’t scare me. Ger drops back by 20m and I’m running with the other guy. I feel like a tug boat – slow and steady and passing all the show ponies. This is easy!|
|22||8:08||Steep downhill||Who put the Viagra in my tea? I’ve found the place I’ve been looking for these past 21 miles. The nirvana of nothingness. The empty box where my head used to be! I grab a fun size pack of jellies from a supporter and head off for the bog roads again.|
|23||8:52||Flat||I could trudge along here for days. Everyone else seems to be slowing down and here I am, just getting into my stride. I think I’ll hold back on the vinegar strokes until mile 25 when I know I can make it home.|
|24||8:51||Flat||Another mile on these anonymous roads and the feeling of euphoria won’t go away. I’m in reasonable shape and apart from the hip/hamstring everything else seems fine.|
|25||8:24||Flat||Across the causeway and there seem to be a awful lot of guards out and about for this. They’re all very nice though and say well done to me. I’m feeling so good I’m saying well done back. I smile and give a thumbs up to a photographer. I feel like closing my eyes and running forever.|
|26||7:53||Flat||Finally the inspirational signs make sense. I feel like crying at this one – I am definitely having some sort of mid-life breakdown! I’ll be in a support group next!I seem to be getting faster and faster. I have never finished a marathon like this before.|
|26.2||1:33||Flat||Chest out, tummy in, fix the package and smile (Despite all of this I’ll look like a demented foal in the photographs).I need a wee.|
What does this tell you?
I suppose it tells you that my mind is a bit of a mess but it also shows you that the thoughts are a mix of housekeeping worries and broader questions about what am I all about.
Also, from a running point of view it shows you that if you train for long enough (years at a guess) you can master the marathon as an event. You can see from the times and the lack of a “wall” that I never really went into a sugar debt and into the anaerobic zone. This shows that it’s the pace and not the distance that gets you in the end. I ran most of this marathon using fat reserves as a fuel source.
This fat reserves thing is all part of a much larger debate that I won’t bore you with too much as it would shatter your impression of me as a flippant layabout. The gist of it goes along the lines that fat and protein as fuel sources for your body are much better for you as they are what you were designed for and prevent insulin spikes. I suspect that the problem with the debate is that to get your energy from fats you need to eat an awful lot less food (more than twice the energy in a gram of fat than carbohydrate) and most people who are carrying a few pounds live on the mantra that refusal often offends when it comes to feeding.
It is worth saying that I have a whole lot of other unpublishable thoughts that stay inside my head – this is for the safety of everyone involved. I have to keep up this façade of normality for a few more years.