With Loch Ness Marathon just around the corner, I thought I would share some thoughts about this race. More to get them out of my head than anything else.
I have ran Loch Ness once before and sort of enjoyed it but also learnt a lot about myself and have thought about the route quite a bit over the past couple of months.
When I ran it back in 2010, I firstly didn't realise how long we would be on the bus for. For those of you who haven't ran this course before, the organisers bus you out to the start line, which is basically 26.2 miles away from Inverness, along small, winding roads, which are very narrow when you try and drive a bus down them! Due to this, it takes about 45mins to an hour to get there. Imagine being on a bus for an hour and then mix that up with trying to keep hydrated but not so hydrated that you need a pee 15 mins in to the journey!
This year my plan is to sip some water or sports drink on the bus but not do my usual which is sip way too often due to nerves and then require the loo before we are anywhere near the start line.
The next mistake I made last time was go out along the first mile stupidly fast! I can't remember what pace I was hoping for back in 2010 but a first mile of 6:32 was never going to end well. Even now, that is faster than I would want to start at. This year my plan is to really trust my training, more than I ever have and relax in to a pace of 6:40min/mi from the start, let everyone push on down the hills, run my own race and keep something in the tank, I will catch everyone who has gone off too fast down hill!
"That isn't racing!" I hear you say, this is very true but I feel Loch Ness deserves some respect, sure, the course is mostly downhill but there are two climbs, one at approx 18miles and another one at approx 21miles, and these two climbs put an end to my OK pace two years ago, the final 3 miles of the marathon hurt, I was passed by quite a few runners and I don't want that to happen again. This year, I plan on holding my pace and trusting that my legs will get me the hills and if I have anything left then the race starts in the final 4 or 5 miles. Yes, it will still hurt but it will hurt because I'm pushing the pace rather than hurting just because I am struggling to keep one foot moving in front of the other - that's the plan anyway!
During training I have even measured routes so that Arthurs Seat is at approx 18 miles to help me prepare mentally and yes, my pace drops but my legs feel strong and I get to the top and then pick the pace back up again on the flat and down hill.
Mentally I know I can do this plan, steady pace from the start, the training has gone well and I believe 6:40min/mi is achievable.
The course is lovely, so nice that you can actually look around and take in some of the scenery but also varied enough that you aren't staring down 26.2 miles of road. This is a hate I have about Edinburgh Marathon, as soon as you get down on to the sea front you can see where you still need to run to and that is only the 21 mile mark! You still need to turn around at that marker and head back another 5 miles along the same road you have just come along!
If all goes to plan then I hope to not only get my first sub 3 marathon but a sub 2:55:00 marathon. This would give me a great line in the sand for my marathon training and would mean I only need to take another 36mins off my time to get a qualifying time for the Commonwealth Games! 36mins, oof! Lets not think about that just now!
The dream however is sub 3 and I will be delighted with that, every second below that is a bonus.
Just now the weather is looking not too bad, possibility of rain which will help keep me cool and a steady S-SW wind which will hopefully mean a tail wind. There is still time for this to change but again, I can't control the weather so I will just deal with what is there on the day.
Going out tonight with Pitreavie AAC road runners for an easy stretch of the legs and then that is it, head up to Inverness tomorrow evening after work, register on Saturday and then race day is here.