The sub 3 paradox 2.0

I decided to split this post in two, as I felt I was on the verge of waffling. I’m realising recently that I spent so much time pursuing sub 3, and until writing this post, almost zero reflecting on the achievement and what it meant. In fact the race and day itself is not one that I remember that fondly….another lesson learned.

It is entirely possible to run a pb and have a crap day…and vice versa. (remember the bold bit from the previous post)

There was no great celebration, the race had been awful for me, with stomach issues throughout and constant failure of the GPS watch due to the many tall buildings (Spend some time learning how Marathon Pace MP actually feels to your body, so when the watch gives up, it’s not a disaster. People ran without GPS devices for years, we have become far too reliant on technology, according to an article I just read on my phone.)

If you study the elites pacing, it is generally pretty consistent, probably a negative split, meaning the second half is run faster than the first. I had tens of seconds, sometimes minutes difference between each mile. In terms of race day execution, I’d give this one a generous 2/10.

I had pictured myself crossing the finish line in a blaze of glory, thousands cheering me home. A recurring dream I had been having was of me rounding the final corner and seeing the clock ticking over 2:59:59, with no way of getting over the line in time, I think this was a hangover from Berlin, where something similar, although not quite that dramatic had happened.

To see the clock in the 2:57s as I rounded the final bend in Chicago should have been a realisation of a dream. several years of hard work and I was finally going to do it! On finishing, I was a bit sick on my left shoe, collected my medal and trudged off to get my bag.

2016 me would have been jumping all over the place and hugging fellow finishers for hours after this, but there is something so very transient about marathon cycles. Expectations change, realities change, what was your tempo run pace, becomes your marathon pace, becomes your recovery pace.

My first reaction once I’d sat down and had a beer was, ‘I should have gone sub 2:55’. I have now accepted that the point at which I say ‘enough’, is unlikely to appear anytime soon. My satisfaction from the sub 3 came in the work leading into the race, I built myself a solid foundation, sacrificing a few things here and there to put running first, which meant on race day I could have a bad day and still get the result. This to me is a different, albeit equally gratifying kind of success.

When you are hitting targets in a training cycle regularly and feel yourself getting stronger by the week, the momentum is irrepressible. I also feel not running my best race gave me confidence to get even faster in 2019.

This now official counts as waffle, so I will draw to a close. Long story short, there is more than one way to skin a cat. I’m wary of giving advice, but if I know this would have been useful to me in days gone by. Try not to think of sub 3, or any time for that matter, as a destination. It is just another place to stop for a while and check out the view. If your anything like me, all hitting another pb will do is light an even greater fire underneath you.

Happy running, O.

Some less time intense running in the Brecon Beacons 2018 50k

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