Having ran four Flora’s, it is time for a Virgin. The London Marathon on April 17 – 14-and-a-half weeks away – will be my seventh attempt at the 26.2-mile distance.
The marathon, however, has been my nemesis, a constant bridge too far. I ran 3,40s in my first two races during a period when times concerned me less. Believing I could run a marathon in under three hours, I upped my mileage. I have failed four times since: London (a dogged 3,08), Paris (a painful 3,03), London (a disastrous 3,19), then Snowdonia (a hilly 3,04).
I’ve gained a championship place in the 2011 London Marathon, courtesy of a qualifying half-marathon time five seconds inside 1,15. With that sort of benchmark, a sub-3 hour marathon should be simple. I should be aiming for 2,50 and faster, surely?
If 2011 is to be the year, the year of my marathoning epiphany, miles are the key – lots and lots and lots of them. I have never run more than 55 miles in a week; it is around this point in previous years that I felt my body falling apart.
I’m not alone in an ambition to drag myself around a marathon distance course in under three hours. Indeed, everyone has their personal goals, whether they are jogging at the back of the pack, sprinting at the business end, or if you’re Haile Gebrselassie (providing he hasn’t actually retired) chasing a world record.
In lighter moments, I wonder why such goals matter, why runners bother flogging themselves on cold, dark, miserable, wet nights in January. Isn’t there more to life than this? If a runner obsesses over such questions, he or she may as well give up the sport. What’s the point – in fact, what’s the point of anything in life – if you’re not trying your best.
And that is why I continue to flog myself on these cold, dark , miserable, wet nights in January. I will have a sub-3 hour marathon!