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Get back in shape for Lewa marathon
Stefan ran: 2:53:52 (chip time). ...
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- 26 miles
- 02:54 time
- 06:37 pace
- 2368 calories
2:53:52 (chip time).
Today I ran a good marathon. Even a very good one. Not a perfect one, but I'm getting there :) Not fast, but quite fast. And a PR by 4 minutes.
The goal today was to go out and.... see how it felt. And 2:52:30 pace felt about right. In my dreams I was in sub-2:50 shape, but the reality is I'm not quite there yet. So I played it smart and kept it as close to 4'05"/km as possible. I'm glad I did.
After a slow start (stuck behind the 3 hour pace group for the first 2kms) I found a groove and run with another runner I'd linked up with in the start section - a Brit called John who had similar goals. We ran well together up to km 23, at which point he felt strong and pushed ahead, deciding he would try for a big negative split.
I had a few rough patches here and there -- an annoying side stitch from km18-28, which made it feel harder than it should have been at points. Went through the half at 1:26:10, which is about 20 seconds slower than my half PR, feeling relaxed but annoyed by the stitch.
After km28 I was just taking it one km at a time.... feeling strong at points, fading at other moments. Reminding myself to run tall, trying to keep the cadence high, trying not to slot in behind others and allow the fade to take over. The nice thing is that at 4 minutes per kilometre the race goes by quickly!
On the final straight I ran hard to get under 2:54. So it ended up as a one-and-a-half minute positive split. I still need to harden up a bit psychologically (these fades are mental too...), but I learned a lot today.
Still, in the broader scheme of things, I'm over the moon: I started this year hoping to break 3 hours and I'm now flirting with the low 2:50's. This is a decent place to be after just 19 months of being a runner and having just turned 40 :)
With all those details out of the way, let me also say this: as marathons go, Berlin is FANTASTIC. The course is brilliant: long flat stretches, easy to find a groove, perfect organisation, amazing city, FANTASTIC crowd support for the entire route. I would run this one again and again, no hesitation. By far the best marathon I've run.
Oh yeah, and this morning I got to the starting corralls nice and early, and bumped into a work colleague (a photographer) based in our Berlin office who was covering the elites. I was able to join him in the elite section and had a brief chat with Geoffrey Mutai (big smile, shy, lovely man... very short and thin as a toothpick too!!), and also did a short warm up jog with him and other elites + pacers in the Tiergarten -- just a couple of hundred metres at 8:30/mile pace. Amazing!
Final thought: there are few things in life that make you smile like a well-run marathon :D