New personal best in Marathon

diplomIt has been exactly a week since I ran a new personal best in marathon distance in SEB Tallinn Marathon.

I was not going to write a blog post because I was not satisfied with the result. Yes, 3:23:15 is indeed 19 minutes better than my previous personal best of 3:42 run in Antwerp two years ago. But the thing is, this was the first time I really *tried* to run a good time. In 2012 when I made an easy jog of 3:46 in Copenhagen I was capable of doing a 3:05-3:10 marathon (derived from my 39:03 10k and 1:27:28 half-marathon), but since I did not, this is still just on paper and 3:23:15 is the reality. Nothing to be ashamed of, for sure, but not a result that I would volunteer to brag about, either.

Four weeks earlier in Rakvere Ööjooks I felt great.

This is what finishing strong looks like.

This is what finishing strong looks like.

We had just finished an arduous bike-trip with Matti and just a few days later I was going to take that half-marathon easy. So I started with pace that felt comfortable, only to discover this pace to be between 4:25-4.30/km. After 13k when I felt increadibly fresh I decided to push a bit more and I finished the race in 1:31:38 with the final 10k in 41:25, the second best time of my life. Considering that I only accelerated 8km before the end, I was very satisfied with the result and my hopes for SEB Marathon went up.

Reality does not always follow the plans however. Running a pretty fast half-marathon just a few days after an arduous 4-days bike trip on South Estonian hills might not have been a very good idea to begin with, but perhaps even worse idea was running another half-marathon (even 23k) three days later in training. Everything went downhill from there.

Another 3 days later I participated in Tartu Inline Marathon half-marathon distance. First time on roller-blades in 3 years resulted in rather ok result, but at the finish I felt I was not able to make such as sprint as I should have been able to. And the next trainings after that were a nightmare – even a light jog would make me very tired. My morning pulses went up from 52-55 to 60-64. I was clearly overtrained.

So I cut the training volume for the two weeks before the marathon close to zero. Morning pulses did get better, but since I had not cut the eating volume I was still not sure what I would be capable of. The night before the marathon I got some bad cold by overestimating the outside temperature, but in the morning I felt ok and despite some flu symptoms went to the start.

In start I decided to go for 3:20, a goal that seemed pretty modest to me. The plan was to run with 3:15 pacemaker as long as I could and then slow down a bit and finish strong.

Feeling good at the end of the first lap

Feeling good at the end of the first lap

The weather was close to ideal at start – 15 degrees, no wind. However, as the sun came out, it got hotter and there was quite a bit of sweating. As the gun went off, I made some quicker moves to reach the 3:15 group and stayed there as planned. In the beginning the feeling was not that could, but it gradually improved and the tempo felt comfortable. Around 17-18km as we got back to the centre I started thinking that maybe I could finish in the group.

There were some uphill sections at the end of the first lap and some people dropped off. I stayed with the group, but as the time and distance went by I started to find it harder and harder to keep the pace. At around 25k I told myself that I would hold on until 30km mark and then let the group go. It became difficult, but I managed to do that – I only left the group go between 30 and 31.

A few kilometers later my legs started noticing me about their condition. One of the things I was concerned about before the event was that I had not ran any longer distances before the marathon. Sure, I had done 3 half-marathons, but no 30+ km runs like one should. Now this started to show. Legs were going to be troublemakers.

And this is what agonizing looks like..

And this is what agonizing looks like..

People started overtaking me. Slowly at the beginning, but as we got closer to the finish and as my tempo decreased steadily more and more people overtook me. I would later learn that while I finished 291st (out of 1807 finishers), I held 249th place at 30k mark. After crossing Mere Puiestee some 3-4 km before the end I made some walking moves and massaged my thighs that were just a brink away from cramping from behind. This seemed to help and I was able to run again. Even though my pace slowed considerably I ran to the very end with a short exception of the bridge in Schnelli Park.

After finishing, getting my hard-earned medal and the foil blanket to keep me warm, I let the Ice-Power girls to spray some ice on the back of my thighs. Mistake. The next five minutes I was agonizing on the ground trying (unsuccessfully) to keep from cramping. At finish I met some friends, then met my folks and left the scene.

Despite everything, it was well worth participating in the marathon. For one thing, I had never run a marathon in Estonia before, but also it was already more than two years since my last one and therefore about time to do it. Now I’ll take it easy for a while and then start the training cycle from scratch.


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