I had been waiting for it.
I had overcome the challenging undulating stretches.
I had long passed the half-way mark.
I was slower than my planned pace but I had not given up on achieving my goal.
It was now that I had to push on, make up the difference.
Only I was struggling to keep my pace from slowing.
My goal time passed as I accumulated 25 miles. I attempted to speed up but the pain was instant and eradicated the last hope.
Then I found myself alone.
Each sight was another reminder of the race I had done, the little that remained.
I sprinted the last five seconds with the crowds cheering me across the line.
The race had not destroyed me and I felt great post-race.
I began training for a 2017 spring marathon late the previous December. My goal was clear: run under 3:05 to qualify as a ‘good for age’ entry for the 2018 London Marathon.
I signed up for the Southend Marathon, a flat course along the seafront held in mid-March. I planned it as a fairy tale. “Local lad returns to his hometown for inaugural event, wins to qualify for London.” But two weeks before the race, as I prepared to taper my training, the event was cancelled.
I was gutted.
But I refused to let it waste my training and scupper my ambition. So I searched for another marathon held locally in the upcoming weeks. The Bungay Black Dog Marathon was ideal.
Or so I thought.
My training had been consistent and high quality. But the course was not suitable for a major personal record attempt. I paced the race well, always running within my limits. Although I still achieved my fastest marathon finish and remained positive physically and mentally during and after the race, I failed to achieved my dream.
I remain determined to achieve my ‘good for age’ entry into the London Marathon, even if it has to be the 2019 event.