Simon Dally' respectable 3-hour marathon

Abingdon Marathon 21st October 2012

I entered this race about 6 months ago after the Paris marathon in April this year. After completing that in under three hours, I was ambitiously hoping to go one step further and do Abingdon in under two hours 45. This would bag me a championship place  in the London marathon for which I’d already got a guaranteed entry due to my Paris time due to being “good for my age…”.   I consolidated Paris with a decent time (84:39) in the Sheffield half marathon on a hot day , and followed that up with a PB of 81:06 in the Fleetwood half marathon 8 weeks ago.

Things went a bit awry for me around that time. About a week before Fleetwood I picked up a niggling injury on my left leg, which I’ve not been able to shake off since then. Four weeks later I ran the Tonbridge half with a number of other Vegan Runners as Peter has already posted on the blog. It was the first time I have run with other vegan runners, which was brilliant, but due to this injury and a virus I wasn’t at my best.

Today I felt much better. I had cross trained hard for two weeks at the gym, then tapered off in the week prior to the race.. I had also had extensive massage and physiotherapy on my injured leg. I have been 90% low fat raw vegan on and off for the past 12 months and for virtually all of the last 8 weeks. The weather conditions were perfect, the course was flat. PB conditions. Going in to the race I felt strong. I could still feel  the pain in my left leg, but it was manageable and like most runners I’m used to running with minor niggles. Just one concern though – I had only run about 70 miles in the last eight weeks.

I set off at 6:10 – 6:15 pace, which would bring me in at under 2:45. I maintained this for about 6 miles then lost some momentum after that due to a small incline but still I passed the 10 mile marker on about 63 minutes, so was on course for a good time. But at about the 12 mile point it all went wrong. Both calf muscles started to cramp up, and that was how it was to be for the rest of the race. I passed the half way point at 1:24 something, but even then I knew I would be hanging on for a sub 3 time. I got steadily slower after that and 8 minute mile pace for the last 3 or 4 miles  put paid to a sub 3 finish. I did still manage what I thought was a sprint finish for my family and friends who had supported me throughout the race. I finished in 3:03:16, which I know is still a good time.  I had hoped for much better, but in the circumstances I guess it was a good achievement. I have only ever had serious cramping in this race today and at Tonbridge. I’ve analysed it to death, but can only attribute it to the injury and, maybe more significantly, lack of running prior to the race. In retrospect, I clearly set off much too fast. But I wanted to give myself a shot at 2:45 so have no regrets. Stupid as it may sound, I feel as though I have let Vegan Runners down in the last two races as I have underperformed. I will come back faster and stronger, but will not race again until my injury is resolved.

As for the race itself I would definitely recommend it. The course is pretty flat and was brilliantly organised and marshalled from start to finish with good support from the public. I’m not one for goody bags but you get a nice t-shirt at the end. Many thanks to Peter for coming all the day from Milton Keynes to support the team. Please let me see the photos, though, before you post them on the blog / Facebook – do I have a right of veto?!! I’m sorry I couldn’t wait at the end to see Nik and Maria, as I had to get off due to other commitments.

Anyway I’m looking forward to London next year. Once I’m fully fit I’ll be looking to enter one or two more half a marathons hopefully with some other vegan runners. 

Over 700 runners start the Abingdon Marathon

Our lead runner, Simon in the town centre at 6 miles

Simon starting the 2nd of two 8-mile loops
Approaching Tilsley Park in the last mile

On the home straight where he started 3+ hours ago

Much better than a blur despite injury!


Feeling relieved it is over, without further injury!