My clock and chip time for the Dublin City Marathon were posted as the same at 03:22:08. While I was close to the start line this suggests that I was alongside the elites when in fact it took me at least 10 to 15 seconds to cross the line after the gun went off. The winner, Aleksey Solokov of Russia (course record of 02:09:07), even had a 1 second gap between gun time and chip time - I don't remember him passing me out at the start.
As I was so "out of it" at the finish I did not stop my watch until it read 03:32:26. The lap button was also pressed at 03:23:15 for some strange reason, over a minute after I had finished. So, while I probably beat 03:22 by a few seconds my new Marathon PB stands at 03:22:08 - 03:31 minutes off my PB of four months ago. My watch time for the halfway mark of 01:36:45 compared to a gun time of 01:37:00 suggests a chip time 15 seconds less than clock time (i.e. 03:21:53)
While I may have some explanations as to why my performance was below expectations (injury over last three weeks, no real speedwork completed as a result etc.) I cannot explain why I blew up in such a spectacular way over the last few miles - I certainly should have seen it coming with the steady rise in my heart rate and should have slowed down to compensate.
Of my three previous marathons, my first in Dublin last year was the only other marathon in which I faded towards the end of the race - but this was more as a result of glycogen depletion and build up of lactic acid in my muscles, hitting the wall so to speak, as opposed to what happened to me yesterday. In addition last year, while my HR went into the low 170's in the middle of the race it was 164/165 over the last few miles (when my legs as opposed to my heart was dictating pace). Certainly my heart was dictating pace yesterday.
My last marathon in Cork in June was the most evenly paced with the second half run 17 seconds faster that the first half - therefore the 07:51 average pace was manageable for 26.22 miles, albeit more difficult to maintain towards the end. So given my training for Dublin the first half pace of 07:24 should have been reasonably manageable to maintain throughout with my endurance training carrying me through. My lack of specific speedwork training resulting from my calf strain may certainly explain some of the drop off in pace towards the end but I'm still at a loss as to why I felt so bad. Ewen suggested that I may have been dehydrated although I took on plenty of fluids throughout the race - maybe I didn't take on enough - I don't know. I certainly took on more fluids than I did in my last marathon in Cork when it was much warmer (water stop organisation was a bit of a disaster).
After yesterday I began questioning whether I should stick to shorter races and not put myself through that again, I obviously did not have the sense to slow down and keep my HR below 170. I shudder to think what would have happened if I was further from the finish line when I began to blow up - I'd have probably collapsed. People collapse every year on marathon courses but I always thought that was due to lack of sufficient training for the pace they were running at. My recent result in the Cork to Cobh 15 mile race suggested a 03:07:31 marathon when entered in the McMillian Running Calculator so running at 03:14 pace for the first half of the marathon should not have unduly stressed me. Even allowing for some drop off in pace in the second half I should have come in comfortably under 03:20. If I had maintained 8 minute mile pace from mile 20 I would have come in @ 03:19:10. I was still on target at mile 24 - therefore I conclude my blow up cost me about 3 minutes and the reason I didn't get closer to 03:15 was due to lack of training over the last month, particularly on speedwork, which would help me maintain pace towards the end by converting those fast twitch muscle fibres to the slow twitch variety.
Enough said. Time for recovery. My legs were quite stiff today, all the usual expected aches and pains but noting unusual and no sign of my calf strain. I probably won't attempt a recovery run for a few more days.