To say that the Langdale marathon didn't go exactly to plan is a bit of an understatement.
It was a wee bit too warm and sunny to be counted as ideal conditions for me, but it wasn't seriously hot. Nevertheless I was sweating profusely within ten minutes of the start as we all trotted up the steep pass out of the West end of the Langdale valley. At the top I enjoyed stretching out my legs on the long descent, eventually bringing us through Little Langdale. I seemed to passing other runners with ease on the downhills (perhaps the fell running has helped in this respect, although I am quite inept at descending in a proper fell race. On the uphills I was sometimes passed back by these same runners. This was fine by me because I was definitely taking it very easy on this first lap, and of course they were all half marthoners in the top 15 or so of their event. I was running on 'feel' but did also have my pulse displayed on the Garmin, which showed highs of around 169 on the big uphills and 160-165 the rest of the time. More or less within the limits I had set myself for lap 1, perhaps two beats higher on average.
As I descended from High Close YHA into Elterwater, about 10 miles covered, I glanced at my average pace for the first time. 7:20 minute miling and with no significant uphills to do until the next lap, I was very happy indeed. As the next 3miles of lap 1 passed below my feet I allowed some of the runners near me to pull away slightly - realising they would be pushing hard in the final 15mins for their finish line. Only after approx 12 miles did i feel anything other than 'very comfortable'. At this point I was vaguely aware of just a little bit of lethargy creeping in. This wasn't a big concern to me though as I had a gel stashed on a wall top 500metres from the start line and I also knew that Plucky would be supplying extra water etc on lap 2.
(plucky had started as an official Half Marathon entrant but had stayed alongside his missus Gill, carrying her gels and drink. After lap 1 he said he would get on his bike to supply us both for the second half of our marathon)
My time for lap 1 was just inside 1hr 32mins. This would have been 20th in the shorter event. The Garmin was showing 7:08 pace up to this point, and I reset it to give an average pace again for lap 2. All looking good for a sub 3:10 result.
The big descent into Little Langdale felt very different on lap 2. Rather than letting gravity give me speed for free I felt I was scarcely going any faster than on the the flats. Third after lap 1, I was soon caught and passed by the Fourth placed runner. I relayed my drop in energy/speed/confidence to Plucky as he darted between myself and Gill. Approx 4mins behind me at halfway, she had gone through a bad patch but was currently running well and catching me up. As I slowed to a crawl and wanted to throw up, I was passed by Gill at about 18miles (into 5th place) then by Richard Bardon at about 22 (into 6th). With a mile to go I was caught by another lad but he refused to go ahead of me as I had been in his sights for over 2 hours and felt he should stay with me as I struggled to look composed as we entered the finish field.
At the same point in lap 2 I glanced at the average pace
exactly one minute per mile slower than lap 1!
Last year I ran this marathon less than one day after (up to then) my longest ever fellrun of 5hrs+,helping Pete Beer over leg 3 of his BGR. On that occasion I took just 7 mins longer than I did today, and that included lengthy walking sections and even brief stops with muscle cramping.
I honestly don't know what went wrong. I am obviously very disappointed. I would never have won the race this year, Alistair Tathams winning time of 3:04 was never a target but I would have been second with anything inside 3:10. Now I feel like I wasted last week by resting and not training. So much so that after doing nowt but long dog walks on Monday/Tuesday while a mild case of DOMS worked its way out of my legs- I jogged 30mins on Wednesday.
Then, last night I met up with Plucky who was running a brisk 9.3mile hilly circuit from his house. From the outset I ran hard tempo, forcing the pace. Plucky struggled throughout the entire run, losing ground on all the uphills, regaining me while I took it easy on the downs. I ran every bend wide while he ran tight. Last week Plucky ran a PB around this course by 45 seconds but still took over an hour. Last night we completed it in 57mins 30 seconds (6:10miling)
With this kind of current fitness and speed I am even more baffled re Sunday. I realise that 10mile pace is very different from marathon stamina but I thought I had done plenty of long runs in the last 6 weeks too. Now I am determined to have a really good result in one of the two main races that remain this year. The Derwent 10m on Nov 1st, or, two weeks later, the Brampton to Carlisle 10m. There is no chance of a PB in either but I would be elated to beat the hour over the hilly Derwent course. Anything other than a sub 59 minute run at Brampton would be disappointing