A post here form one of our athletes abroad – James Spence at the recent Antwerp Marathon, enjoy.
After a long run in the snow froze my kneecaps solid, I couldn’t get back on the horse. I still had 4 weeks to go until the Antwerp marathon and had been training harder than ever before. I was spent. In order to keep myself mentally sane I decided to start tapering a month out. Thinking this would destroy any chance of beating by Berlin time of 3.24, I entered the race with the attitude of getting something around this time. To get sharper, would enthuse me to continue with the training.
At the start line, I couldn’t decide which pacemaker to follow, whether that should be the 3.30 balloon and try to beat him in the last ten, or the 3.15 and allow myself to fall away a bit. I decided on the 3.15 because I know what the last 10 can be like, you always want something up your sleeve, not the other way around.
As the race got underway, I ran the first 10km with the 3.15 pacemaker, and ran past Sarah at the 4km mark. I met a guy on the road who was also with the 3.15 balloon, who I had raced a month earlier and I had beaten at the end. He started to move away from the 3.15 balloon and pick up the pace. I decided to go with him and follow about a 100m back. I felt whatever he could do, I could also.
We ran through the first 20km in 1.29, 10 mins faster than my pace at Berlin. I was feeling good but had the disaster feeling. My knees were starting to go, so I started to pop some painkillers. (Bad huh?) Still, I felt there was no way I could keep up this pace.
At 24km, I meet up with some Belgian friends who rode and ran next to me, spurring me on, making me feel good. The wall never came, apart from a 5 second walk at 37km where I looked back along a long stretch of the road to see whether the 3.15 balloon was ever in sight. It wasn’t. I crossed the line, Sarah there, in 3.06. My PB by 18 mins. I am stoked! And the passion has come flooding back.