As I lined up in the starting zone and reviewed my pacing plan, hydration, nutrition etc. for the tenth time, I paused to breathe deeply and remind myself of my goal. It has taken three years to get here. I had a great run at the Beachy Head marathon in 2011, finishing in 11th place, and after chatting to a few of the guys I’d been racing that morning I realised they were all “sub 3” runners on the road. At the time my road PB was 3:13:59, and I preferred trails. However, I was now convinced I could go faster, so I entered a spring road marathon and started training again.
A combination of injuries, illness and idiocy meant that almost three years to the day I was still chasing the same goal. However I knew it would be different this time. I felt as fit as I had at London in April, where I had cruised to 23 miles at target pace before my own stupidity ran me into the wall and onto my arse. That was a painful lesson, but fast marathons are not the same as ultras and need a different strategy.