Whilst it seems almost everyone has taken part in the London marathon, I had the “pleasure” last weekend in taken part instead in the Illinois marathon in Urbana-Champaign (my first marathon). Not to be mistaken with the Chicago marathon, this much more low key (I like to think “prestigious”, so prestigious in fact I bet you’ve never heard of it). Despite the fact that it’s not one of the major marathons, the course is as flat as a pancake and the whole town seems to come out to cheer you on. So it’s a perfect place for a fast time.

 

Having got up at some ungodly hour for the 7am start, I stumbled to the start line and off we went. Having never done a marathon before, and no marathon specific training beforehand, I set off merrily at my 1/2 marathon pace (oh, how naive I was). At least I had the sense not to shoot off with the 3 Kenyans in the front. But even at this pace, I soon found myself getting overtaken after only a couple of miles and was starting to wonder what on earth I’d got myself into. Around mile 5 it started to pour with rain, and continued to do so for the rest of the race – maybe they were just concerned for this poor Welshman, totally unaccustomed to dry weather. After a couple more speed-merchants flew past we got to 13 miles and it suddenly became clear that most of the people around me were in fact running the half marathon. So I suddenly found myself with just one other runner and no-one else in sight – it was to remain like this until the end of the race. I managed to keep up the pace until mile 20, but then the wheels really started to fall off the wagon. I had no energy left, but in this situation it seems you have no choice but to just plough on regardless. The last 3 miles I ran at a crawl, and it was just pure pain. Eventually, I made it into the stadium in 2h27m57s, in 4th place. Despite the last 6 miles, I was pretty please with that, not really knowning what to expect beforehand.

 

At about 3 1/2 hours in they cancelled the race because of thunder…     

 

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