Previously ran this marathon in 1993 & 1994 with contrasting fortunes. In the early 1990s I relied on my cycling to reach most events withing 40 miles of home or my starting railway station. For the 1993 event I arranged to stay overnight at a former landlord’s address in Benson, about 8 miles further away from Abingdon. I cycled to Benson via Abingdon on the Saturday, a distance of over 50 miles but was confident I could recover for the marathon the next day. After the short ride the next day to the school where it was held I was still confident. Ran the first half at a good pace but at about 15 miles I quickly became tired and decided to walk. With the long ride home to consider after the event I continued to walk for about 10 miles. At 25 miles I started running again and ended quite well but obviously in a slow time of 4.47.
The thought that I could do a lot better without cycling to Abingdon encouraged me to enter the following year and arrange a lift. Taking it cautiously in the first half I had the energy left in the second to accelerate and finish strongly in one of my better times of 3.36.
In the past decade I have cycled to Abingdon again but only to see the climax of the event at a new venue (Tilsley Park) and give my support. Due to injury over a period of years which had not stopped me competing in shorter distance events, attempting a marathon was out of the question. Having in more recent years mainly overcome the calf strains that were the source of the problem I considered tackling a marathon once again. The Abingdon with its flat course and one of the nearest was the obvious choice.
The step up in training begin in July with the Wycombe Half Marathon but it was only later in August that I had my first 20+ miles training session that went well. Unfortunately I probably did not do enough training in September although I had a good 20 miles event at Dunstable Downs on 28th. A week later I had a cold and did not run again until race day, 19 October apart from some long walks in the preceding week.
A lift was arranged on the day and was feeling quitely confident. I met-up with someone who was aiming possibly for a PB (sub 3.20) but could not resist lining up with him which may have been a mistake. Started off quite confidently but probably too fast, more like half marathon pace, passing through halfway in about 1.43. I soon began to slow in the 2nd half and began down the field but kept going apart from taking on more fluids. On reaching the town centre at mile 23, the temptation to walk was too great but I was not completely exhausted. Soon started running again but at slow pace and alternated until I reached the track where put on a spurt giving everyone in the stadium, if they were watching, the impression I had a good run! A time of 3.48 was in fact roughly my aim but did not quite give the consistent performance.
Seemed to recover well as I later rushed down to the track to take photos of Laurence Klein who finished in 4.54 (see separate message). I bumped into Sharon Davidson in the stand after returning from the changing rooms and Sharon had only just finished in 4.38 a few minutes earlier. Unfortunately I missed Frances Humphries but Maria Hamilton rejoined us in the stand after supporting us on the course with her bike.