Mike Scotney Reports: This marathon encapsulates all that is good about enjoying running; the chance to spend time in a really interesting city and then participate in a really well organised marathon event.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect; run wise. Being my second marathon this year, I trained on the foundation built up earlier in the winter and spring, and whilst doing less mileage, I kept up the intensity and focussed on a slimmed down 12 week Pfitzinger plan. It incorporated again long, slow Sunday runs, 10m+ midweek runs and some tough speed work in the last month, which seems to be a decent combination. I was feeling in good shape, but I’ve learnt that with the marathon, you just never know?
Having done an epic 7 hour road journey to Bradford in the week with work, Sian and I decided sensibly to take the train and make a weekend of it. I flaunted all perceived wisdom in the day before a marathon; taking in a 3 course evening meal and a couple of Yorkshire beers on the Saturday night, but at least felt carb loaded. It was a fabulous Autumnal morning; sunny but not too warm, just right for running. The start was at the University, just a mile from the Hotel, and there was a real buzz of excitement at the start; a mass of marathon runners and many doing either a cut down 10 miler or a corporate marathon relay. After meeting John at the baggage area (which felt like it was a good mile from the start!), it was time to line up in Zone 1, enjoy the fresh air and get going …
I was aiming to go at least one second faster than London this year (a PB), and just see how I felt. The first couple of miles meandered into the City of York itself, with that great hubris of urban excitement, as everyone settles down, and it was a real highlight running passed the glorious York Cathedral. The route then took us East of York and into the countryside, going out towards Stockton on the Forest. I was feeling good, going a little faster than expected at 7.30’s, and then eased a little in respect to the distance to go. The marathon then threw up a really decent twist; I started talking to a postman, Shaun, who was running his first marathon for his club up in the North East. He was aiming for about the same sub 3.30 time, and without any actual nod, we pretty much ran together for the remainder of the race. John also caught up at about 6 miles, and he then disappeared off into the countryside at about 11 miles, not to be seen again until the baggage area at the end!
The miles flew by, a long stretch of gradual decline took us to the half way mark at 1hr 40 mins, and then after a short tail back, it was the long return back to York! There was a further almost 2 mile switch back just after 16 miles which was quite surreal; watching runners both ahead and behind depending on what stretch you were on. I was still feeling really good though and actually enjoyed the uphill section of about 2 miles up to the 20 mile mark, having a chance to use different muscles. It was then a pretty flat stretch back almost to the end, running through pretty villages, although I was starting to feel a little cramp at about 23 miles. Mentally I was feeling good, but was hoping my legs weren’t going to let me down. A lot of people seemed to be suffering around me, so I was hoping just to ease off and jog back, although strangely I was only losing about 10 seconds a mile.
It was with some relief that York city loomed just after 25 miles. What wasn’t so welcome was the hill on the way back to the University. It seemed so innocuious in walking it earlier in the day, but was an absolute killer at this stage. With a grimace I managed to cover this uphill 500m or so, ironically spotting Sian at the bottom. She must have been wondering why we bother with this running lark, I certainly wasn’t enjoying this last hurdle! Anyhow, at the brow was a 500m downhill burst to the finish, and a fantastic finishing welcome, with a really decent medal and goody bag, and a free beer for all finishers
I was delighted with a new personal best of 4 minutes; 3.21, and with splits of 1.40 / 1.41, pleased with an even, 7.40 per mile race. Now off to focus on a fast half in 2016, and enjoy NOT running 20 miles on a weekend morning! For those who want to run a scenic, flat (wish), well organised marathon with a good chance of a fast time, I would definitely recommend this one, although it sells out very quickly!