A guest post from our MEC brother in Brussels, James Spence. Enjoy.
I had such a battle… Speed pacers are a huge thing in Europe. The have them in Europe, three per time starting at the hallmark, 2 hours 59 minutes. I don’t have the 3 hour body, instead I have a weakness. Belgium is the home of the golden juice.. The worlds greatest beers. People don’t understand the relevance nor the impact of being a drinker with a running problem, and an outsider living in this country. It’s so misunderstood that I once had a visitor from nz and he bought a kiwi beer with him for us to drink. A travesty. I hate nz beers. Hate them. They make you bounce waaay to much. It makes sense in a country that drinks a lot of the worlds worst beer: Heineken. All that to say that it is way harder for me to beat 3 hours in this country of craftsmen. I am forced to drink a lot. A leffe beer in a bar in nz costs 12 dollars, in brussels you can buy the same beer for 50 cents.
I am lucky though, brussels is a city of runners, and was made for them. It’s known as europes greenest city, there are so many parks and forests in the. City, it’s an athletes dream.
So the result? A real lean set of legs (which are meticulously shaven) and a wobbly gut which weighs 30 beers. 30 beers. A runner with my legs would normally weigh 70kgs, instead I weigh 80.
I had run the antwerp marathon in 3.06 two years prior and the brussels in 3.08 three weeks prior. I was coming to Dublin with no long runs under my belt apart from brussels. I had never been in a race where I believed it could be possible for to break 3 hours. Brussels three weeks earlier is a very hilly course and I had recovered fairly well from that race, treating it like my long hard final training run. In both the other races I has set out with the 315 pacers, often trying to run a negative split. My goal this time was to stay with the three hour pacers and see where it got me. I have huge problems running in the heat. I have become a cold weather guy. Reading up about it before the race, the perfect temperature for a marathon is degrees. It was going to be 11.
I keep with pacers until 35k. All the way thinking this was my day. Problem is they don’t stop for a drink or a piss. They keep on smashing it. I stopped to get a drink at 35k and tried to start again but couldn’t. Try as I might. I couldn’t. After a couple of stumbles and falls, I walked the rest of the way. Trying to describe what happened was like being winded in the legs. It took a month for the breathing to start again. It’s such a battle. Next marathon is April in antwerp. Gonna smash that one.
What I love and truly believe about running is you keep getting better. Even if you don’t train consistently. If you have a good stint of training for a half or a full each year, which I have done for the last 5 or 6 years I really believe you get stronger and it comes back quicker each time.