Training for a marathon is brutal. Trying to set a new PR for a marathon reminds me of the following quotation from the Shepherd Boy by the Brother’s Grimm:
But nobody could, and the king said, “The third question is, How many seconds does eternity have?”
The little shepherd boy said, “The Diamond Mountain is in Lower Pomerania, and it takes an hour to climb it, an hour to go around it, and an hour to go down into it. Every hundred years a little bird comes and sharpens its beak on it, and when the entire mountain is chiseled away, the first second of eternity will have passed.”
The key to setting a new PR isn’t to go fast, it’s to go consistently faster over a long time. Your job is to chisel a tiny bit of time over every mile. And that is hard. Because in the beginning you need to go slower than you want and in the end you need to go faster than you want. Go too fast to start, and you have nothing left in the end, go too slow at the start and you can’t cover enough distance fast enough to end.
This balancing act is something I have yet to master. I look more like the amateur that sprints the first two miles, only to discover that there are 24 more to go. My closing times aren’t bad they are ghastly. And every time it’s because I came out way too strong in the beginning …
Part of it … I know this is heresy, may have been that I was simply not fit enough. A combination of extra body weight, and a lack of depth of training meant that I had enough strength to do a half marathon, but was finished around mile 15. All that was left between mile 15 and 26 was survival …
This is not for the faint of heart. This setting of new PR’s.
And therefore it is encouraging that over the last two days, I was able to finish a full marathon in 4:45 minutes. Obviously it’s much easier to take a 24 hour break between mile 14 and mile 15 than continue running, but this is a good indicator.
Another strong indicator is my best times for my long runs are all this year and are all a full minute faster than last year.
Unlike last year, though, I refuse to believe anything is in the bag. I refuse to sign the rights to my memoirs “How I did the Athens Marathon in under 5h42 minutes” until after I do it.
Hubris, the gods like to punish. And I refuse to be proud…