Friday, October 25, 2019

God's own marathon

I'd like to post about brexit but there's been absolutely nothing of note going on recently - truly it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

So instead of that, another race report.

Every year the British Masters Athletics Federation organises a Masters Marathon Championship event, usually as part of one of the autumn city marathons ("Masters" = veterans). This year it was in York, or more precisely the Yorkshire Marathon. England Athletics also organised an England vs Celtic Nations Masters Marathon match at the same event. It's all a bit of meaningless fun really but what with it being reasonably local and with nothing much else on, I decided to give it a go this year. I could have qualified for the England team (through being in the top 4 in my age category in Mancs) but offered my services to Scotland instead. 

Training was a bit desultory, I wasn't going to spend hot summer days trudging around on long runs so just squeezed in an abbreviated plan in the 12 weeks leading up to the event. It was never going to be a PB for me, and a half marathon in September where I barely broke 1:25 (about 3 mins slower than my best) confirmed this. Never mind, I had a smart Scotland (veteran) vest to wear!

Had been hoping to see a bit of York over the race weekend, as we had barely visited before, but the location of our Airbnb to the north, combined with the need to visit the start village on the Saturday afternoon to pick up a race bib, meant we didn't really have time or energy for much else. But we managed to find a decent pizza in the impressive old assembly rooms which was stuffed full with a bunch of mostly skinny oldish people eating unusually large dinners early on a Saturday evening. I don't think the staff knew what was going on. It wasn't quite as good a pizza as in Manchester or Leeds, actually, but seemed adequate for the purposes.

The airbnb was a bit further than I'd have liked to be from the start, but we had plenty of time to wander there in the morning mostly down a quiet cycle route. Loads of people were already stuffed into the starting pens - I've never understood why people want to spend so long standing around like that - and I hopped over the fence with about 10 mins to go and found myself among lots of England veteran vests. In what was an interesting novelty to me, the vets were all wearing race bibs with their age categories on their backs - this is what I'd had to pick up the day before - so we could tell who we were supposed to be competing against. This is a really good idea as usually when an old baldie hoves into view mid-race I have little idea whether they are a direct competitor or not and therefore whether I should try to beat them.

The race was fairly uneventful really - I wasn't that sure of my fitness so didn't risk going too hard. Unfortunately that meant that I got dropped just off the back of what would have been a useful group around the 2nd woman and ran most of the race solo which didn't help in what had become a steady breeze. Temperature was comfortable enough, we only had one very light spot of rain along with a bit of sun that never got too hot. For some reason there were a couple of pipe bands, subsequent web searching suggests they were probably local to York as I can't imagine why any would have come down from Scotland.

Went through halfway in just under 1:25, almost exactly the same as my recent half marathon, but slowed slightly for the second half as my lack of motivation and training started to tell. Nothing drastic though, and I finished in 2:52:52, nominally my worst proper marathon since 2016 (not counting the very mountainous Bentham race) but not really that bad considering. With the wind and lots of gentle undulations it didn't feel like quite as fast a course as Manchester, though runbritainrankings seems to think it was just as quick or even quicker. But that may have been biased by the number of vets peaking specifically for this event. Anyway it was a decent event and well organised apart from the minor annoyance of having to pick up the back bib in person rather than having it posted out as with the standard race number.

On the finishing straight I managed to find my pre-arranged flags and crossed the line waving them to a suitably mixed reception.

According to the results I was the 7th overall M50, but 5th in the BMAF championships (which you had to specifically enter separately) and the 1st member of the Celtic Nations team. Though these results don't seem to have been officially announced yet. I don't get a haggis as a prize or anything like that. Just an unfeasibly large garish pink t-shirt which has been donated to jules for her own sartorial experimentation.