Sunday, 26 September 2010


Writing a report after a good race [I've had plenty of them this year] is easy, but after a race where things don't go to plan can be quite hard. Looking back I can quite clearly see my mistake, after the London Marathon I ignored Marius's recommendations of 3 weeks very easy and raced within a week [my downfall!] and started back on hard training straight away. End result was nine months of hard training and racing, last month I started to notice I was struggling in the last hour of my long runs and I was having to work with increasing effort to hold the correct pace in my fast sessions [I'd gone past my peak and was just plain tired out! I was still hopeful that after a taper I'd be fresh again and could still pull off a good result at Langdale, sadly this was not to be.
Langdale Mountain Marathon Report

The day dawned bright and sunny with a cooling fresh breeze.
A big prize list had enticed double the normal numbers this year up from 100 to 200. I'd have to run really well to get inside the top ten this year. The half and full marathon start together so it's hard to know how your doing until the second lap. i set off easy on the first and only flat mile on the course, soon after we turn left and head straight up the 1 in 3 climb that zigzags it's way up the mountain.
Rob who finished 2nd here last year told me to never let myself push to the point of getting out of breath on the first lap, so I ran within myself to the top.

We were rewarded with some stunning views of the beautiful landscape all around.
Over the top and down a crazy descent, down into the valley before the second climb.
My legs did not feel great, they had an empty kind of feeling to them, not fresh and strong like I was hoping for.
I banged down my first gel and started to feel slightly better.
I was running with a guy calle
d Steve, he use to live here in Southport but moved to Scotland a few years ago, also there were two girls in our group who were doing the 1/2.
The second climb was not too steep and after cresting the top we sped downhill onto the next challenge a 1 in 4 climb at 10.5 miles, you hit the steep section straight away before the climb gets easier, each corner has you thinking you've reached the top only to have your hopes dashed yet again as the road rises into the distance.
Steve pulls away and I find myself on my own, over the top and down a suicide descent.
3 miles of Lake District undulating roads follow, I take another gel and once again start to feel stronger as I pass quite a few half marathon runner who set off to fast.
Past the start finish area I'm bang on target with my hoped for pace with 1.35 at half way.
But I feel a sense of impending doom as my legs are not responding like they should and still have that empty feeling in them, like a car about to run out of gas!
Steve had stopped at the side of the road for a drink and decided to wait for my, I say to him he should have pushed on as I'm not at my best. One mile latter we hit the 1 in 3 for the second time.
I pass two guys and with the tail wind behind me the climb does not seem as bad as I'd been anticipating.
Reaching the top I felt a big sense of relief as I smiled and looked around at the gorgeous scenery.
Steve pushed away on the next downhill and that was the last I saw of him until the finish [ he finished in 3.15 a massive 7 min improvement on last year] I heard someone catching me up , so eased back until he caught me then ran with up to 20 miles.


I got back on target pace by the start of the final 1 in 4 climb. My new friend from Harrogate pulled away as i felt the last of my energy drain away like water flowing down a drain. I had to walk the first section then got into a slow run, the hill seemed so much longer and steeper.
Another gel block, I just keep moving the best i can.
After what seemed like a very long time I reached the top, another crazy downhill, I was shocked to see only 8.5 mph on the Garmin, how could I be so slow! A guy flys past me and now I faced the final 3 miles alone.
My contact lens starts floating a
s my eyes got irritated by the bluster wind, my vision became cloudy as I made my way along the now busy road back to the finish, I keep blinking my eyes and at last I can see well enough to navigate my way into the finish without running into a car!
These last 3 miles were endless, someone was playing a cruel, cruel joke with me, why had each undulation suddenly turned into a mini mountain that got steeper and steeper? why was I running more uphill than down?

The half marathon runners returning home in their cars gave a lot of support, beeping and waving, which carried me onwards.
At long bloody last I reached the 1 mile to go, over the final rise i was rewarded with a glorious sweeping downhill that swept me along to the finish,
I push all out to a sprint, finishing in 3.19 and 13th place.

I finish with mixed emotions, on one hand I knew I could have done much better if I'd been on form, on the other hand I'd just finished the hardest road marathon in Britain.

Amazingly 5 runners got under 3 hours, I think only 5 people in the history of the race had managed that before and the guy who won broke the course record with 2 hours 41 min !!!
I spent the next hour feeling really bad, sitting down with my head on a table feeling dizzy and sick, I gave it all I could.
On last years results my time would have given me 6th place! RESULTS
Time for some rest, I'll follow Marius's advise this time for sure :]


Grellan said...

That's one tough mother of a marathon Rick. A 9 minute fade over the 2nd half is hardly a disaster.

I agree that it's wise to build in a bit of downtime in your yearly schedule. You can't be in peak shape all the time. A week or 2 every 6 months ought to do it. Enjoy the recovery with a few beers.


Thanks grellan, your right of course, Rest after a marathon is 'really important'.

Thomas said...

If you know what went wrong then you failed successfully.

DocRunner said...

Rick, don't be too hard on yoursely. 3h19 is still an amazing time. Hitting the wall is horrendous (persoanl experience here). You should be pleased that you had the courage to dig deep and keep going. In the words of the great Dean Karnazes: "If you can't run, then walk. And if you can't walk, then crawl. Do what you have to do. Just keep moving forward and never, ever give up." Well done. Simon


Cheers Thomas I love your wit!
And thanks Doc simon.

canute1 said...

3:19 is an impressive effort on a course like that, but your preparedness to learn from your experiences is even more impressive. Enjoy the rest, and good luck with your next target race

Mark said...

Hey Rick - thats not a bad time for that course don't think you should be too hard on yourself. Steve Littler won the Edinburgh Marathon this year and so it was a good field you were up against

Anonymous said...

Cheers Rick, the first lap company was good - I enjoyed running with you, your pacing helped me with a Langdale PB - much appreciated.

Liked the Blog but I don't think you mentioned how tough it was enough. I would love to say I was onto my 3rd pint by the time you all got home.... but you were all correct - I went to my B&B and crashed.

See you next year?


bricey said...

Enjoy the recovery and come back stronger!! I think there are lots of guys who'd be more than happy with 3:19 in such a hard race. Well done but, as you now know, the coach is always right!! :)

Ewen said...

Well done Rick. As Thomas said, you learn more from the bad ones. Sounds like it would have been better if you'd been run over by that car on the second mountain of the second lap - would have put you out of your misery!

Enjoy the rest. By the way, what sort of flat marathon time does the winner run? 2:41 is amazing for that course.

marty said...

great report and still a very good performance especially with those lessons learned.