As the village church bells rang out, the night sky was suddenly illuminated with light. As if an assault to one of the senses was not enough, each bright light was accompanied by a boom of noise. It was New Year’s Day 2017 and I found myself standing on a beach in Cornwall, in the middle of the night, surrounded by pub goers in various states of fancy dress costumes. The plastic cup of Prosecco in my hand was to be the only alcohol I allowed myself to take that night. While the fireworks display was no match to the million pound extravaganza going on in London city, the sound of the sea lapping against the coast, gave the whole evening a much friendlier feel. As my friends began to enter the latter stages of drunkenness, I decided it was time to call it a night. With a twenty mile run to do later that day, I needed the sleep.
The beginning of a new year but the same necessary sacrifices. Having started the build up to a Springtime marathon several weeks previously, the benefits are beginning to show. Solid sessions are finally coming together. No longer is it a struggle to hit the times set. No, now the only struggle is to be sensible enough to stick to the times set and not go faster. For the past three months, I have been patiently waiting for this time. Grinding out each run, each session, in the hope that one day things will begin to click. That day, if not here already, does not seem to be too far away.
Which marathon are you doing next? It is the question that everyone always asks. At the moment, I am enjoying training. There is no pressure. No need to hit certain times by certain dates. Do not get me wrong, I am still determined to push myself. To go into that zone of discomfort and stay there for as long as I can. With the World Championships, the only major championship that I am targeting this year, still over seven months away, I feel like I have time in abundance. The next marathon I do, I want to do it right. I have never had an uninterrupted lead in to a marathon before through either illness or injury. The quickest I have ever gone through halfway in a marathon is 66.13 (London 2013), which coincidentally (or not) is also the slowest marathon that I have ever run. I have yet to decide which marathon is the target this Springtime but there are a few possibilities. Training will dictate when I am ready.
Having recently uploaded my watch data to my Garmin account on the computer, the reason for my improvement is obvious. From steady eighty mile weeks in October and November, training jumped to in excess of one hundred and ten mile weeks for the month of December. Four more weeks clocking in excess of a hundred miles per week and the legs should be well conditioned. So while, at the moment I am relaxed and not worrying too seriously about each little detail, deep down an excitement is building. I am fit. Hopefully even more so than what I realise. This weekend I have a twenty four mile long run planned. The pace quite simply, start at 5.20s and get quicker. It will be the first true test of where I am at. Having done the same session two weeks before the World Half marathon championships in Cardiff, I will be able to make a direct comparison.
In the lead up to the European Cross Country championships in December, I had toed a racing startline seven times in ten weeks. The racing bug has definitely been flushed out of my system. The need for the nerves and excitement of racing has gone, for now. The next time I race will be for a purpose, not solely for fun. Each marathon I have raced has been a completely different experience from any other. I expect my next marathon, whichever one that may be, will also be an incredibly, unique experience. Hopefully this time, after what feels like many years of trying, I will finally be able to hit it right. Only time will tell.