Sub Four

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marathon de Paris 2014 was my fourth marathon. My previous times were: 4:42, 4:22, 4:32 (a fortnight after Paris last year). I decided that with a newly won 10k PB of 50 minutes and a 5k PB of 23:54 on the track, a bit of training could get me to that hallowed sub 4, that 3:XX time.

not literally, obviously

I trained using a tweaked schedule I’ve made up myself, based on experience of other races and training campaigns.

This isn’t going to be a race recap – it’s been too long and I don’t remember the details!

I trained hard, it went reasonably well but I don’t think I was mentally there – I had held myself back and convinced myself that I wasn’t fast enough. On the day, I’d been fighting a cold type thing the week before but felt reasonably good.
As soon as we started though, I panicked about the heat (20 degrees C at 8am). I struggled on to about mile 18 at 9min/mile pace, hugely grateful to my running buddies for very nearly physically pulling me round until then.

At that point, we had gone through the hellish disco tunnel and I realised that I wasn’t enjoying the race. I was stressing about holding my friends back and not keeping up, the heat, the pace, my breathing… A small voice in my head whispered ‘not like this’. I made the decision to stop and walk at the next aid station – Tour de Eiffel. I have never tasted better oranges. As I watched the time slip away, I was sad that I hadn’t made it. But I was happy to be doing it, and on my terms. I ran between the aid stations for the last third-ish and came in at 4:12 – exactly ten minutes faster than my previous PB.

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As soon as I finished, I was pleased and proud to have completed it, with the knowledge that one day, I will get that time. And when I do, I’ll want the next step – 3:50 or 3:45. That’s what keeps us running!

Has anyone else struggled to reach that time goal? How did you feel when you made it?

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