Road to Berlin Blog 1 - 16 July 2018 (9 weeks to go)
Over the next few weeks I'll be explaining how a normal guy with two daughters, a wife and a full time job can try and realise his dream of running a sub 2.30 marathon in Berlin on September 16.
In what most people would call 'real life' 2018 has been a great year; my wife Sarah has given birth to our 2nd daughter and we've moved house to somehwere which seems absolutley perfect.
Unfortuntaely, it's fair to say that runningwise 2018 has not gone as I'd hoped. Almost as soon as I crossed the finish line in San Sebastian at the end of November last year I was planning for when I could crack 2.30. I looked at the calendar and knew I wanted to race at London again, I also pursuaded my wife that I could run Berlin in September as long as my parents came along to help with the kids. Former England international marathon runner Jason Cherriman agreed to mentor me and help set my training schedule; he's been there and done it; I was very excited to see what we could do together.
I took a decent few weeks off to rest and presumed that by Christmas I'd be good as new to start training properly for London, this just wasn't the case. Suddenly February and the amazing Armagh 5k was upon me and I was nowhere near as ready as I wanted to be. I had a great couple of days in Northern Ireland, but only managed 15.23 (I didn't even make the top 150!); 24 seconds down on where I really wanted to be. I then moved onto the Alsager 5 miler; where I was hoping to run 25.xx; but failed again running 26.16.
Although not what I wanted, both of these still showed that I was in decent shape and had a shot at sub 70 at The Big Half in London at the start of March. Those of you in the UK will know that in the first few months of the year it was very cold and then we had a ridiculous amount of snow that week. Loads of races were cancelled, but TBH was on! I lined up behind the pros and despite not feeling 100% was excited. I got into a good rhythm clicking off the miles at sub 70 pace, but suddenly just after halfway the wheels started coming off; I struggled home in 71.53.
I was then fully into Jason's training schedule, which generally ripped off Steve Way's training. It included a lot of easy running, but two big days a week. One which had tough intervals rising as much as 1 hour and 20 minutes as effort (which I had to do before work) and a long steady run on a Sunday aiming for around 6 mins per mile (20 seconds above sub 2.30 marathon pace). Time and time again I was hitting rep times and completing sessions; I felt really good.
Then raceweek for the London marathon came up and suddenly the weather forecast was out; it was going to be hot; 23 degrees hot. After months training in cold temperatures first thing in the morning, suddenly one of my two goal races for the year was going to be 23 degrees at 10am. Unlike last year where I was excited to be on the start line, this year I was scared. Straight from mile 1 I found 5.40 per mile pace difficult; I was sweating....a lot. To cut a long story short I dropped out at 15 miles, my pace was dropping far too early and I'd come for a sub 2.30; it wasn't going to happen; gutted. Two of my good mates David Hudson and Chris Oddy did crack 2.30; they had the race of their lives and I couldn't be happier for them; very few other people ran PBs.
Jason agreed stopping was the best thing to do, continuing would have done much more damage than good. He tried to get me to sign up for the Milton Keynes marathon or the Edinburgh marathon, but 15 miles in the heat still took a lot out of me and I had to have a bit of time off. I still wanted to use my fitness to try and run a race I was proud of for 2018 before taking a break before Berlin training started. I looked around and settled on the Derby Half Marathon.
I'd read good things about the Derby half, but knew being at the start of June there would be a chance it would be warm; it was. I had another disaster and ran my slowest half marathon for 4 years; I was in a very bad place mentally.
I took a few weeks off and tried to work out what on earth was going on! I had a blood test, but the NHS thinks I'm fine. I do now feel better after a break and Berlin is looming; with family commitments training is going to be very tough, but I've got a lovely looking Nomad Run treadmill in the garage and I'll give it my best shot.
Life is very different now than a year ago; family has to come first and my girls are the most important thing in my life. I'd love to crack 2.30 at Berlin, but I've come to terms that if it doesn't happen running is just a hobby! I've managed a few 70ish mile weeks in a row, but marathon training starts properly now.
I'll try and blog every week; please follow along and see if a married dad of two with a full time job can realise his running dream.