I had my very first DNF today, although dropping out of a marathon after 3 miles probably doesn't even qualify for a DNF (If it was a shorter race with a proper warmup I probably would have not made the start line). I lined up with Denis Looney of Eagle who was aiming for a sub 3:30. With my primary target as finishing without walking 3:30 (8 minute miles) sounded like a reasonable pace to start with. I tested my calf yesterday morning with a 10 mile warmup on the bike followed by a 2 mile run and apart from the heat everything appeared to work fine. With clear blue skies and only sporadic shade throughout the course I knew the sun would be a major factor. However I could handle the sun through proper pacing and hydration, if my calf behaved. Denis wanted to head out at 7:50 pace so that he would have a bit of a cushion built up for the second half. Our first mile around the Mall, Parnell Place and down the Quays was covered in about 7:38 which felt comfortable so we drove on. We maintained a similar pace as we headed out to Blackpool. I took my first (and only) gel at the 2 mile mark- still going strong. Just before the 3 mile mark I felt the pain coming on my calf and knew it was only a matter of time and sure enough shortly after the 3 mile water station I sent Denis on his way, wished him luck and slowed to a walk as the pain intensified - race over. I must have walked (limped) another 3 miles as I first made my way to the half way mark (about a mile from town) and back to the finish to see the leaders come in. The lead guy passed through halfway in about 1:11 with a 4 minute gap to the next guy. I met Joe Roche and Pat Murphy waiting to start the second half as part of relay teams - Pat ultimately came in with a sprint finish for the line in 2:59:58 with Joe not long after him. No sign of Puds until his first half runner came in and he appeared out of nowhere to take the baton (wrist band) for the second half - he covered his half in close enough to 1:30. Conditions were hotter than expected and even at the halfway point there were a number of casualties. Denis came through a shade under 1:45 complaining about tripping on a gully - he was just about on target for 3:30 but without any cushion left and a tougher 13.1 miles to go I feared that 3:30 was not on (I left the finish area with 3:40 on the clock and still no sign of him) Richard came through in 1:46 or 7 and stopped in front of me - he'd had enough - HR in the 170's and 10 minutes behind pace. We chatted for a while as I headed back to town and he for home. Well done to those who ran today in such challenging heat.
So!...My marathon build came to nothing much - all the 5 am mid-week long runs - sprinting up hills before dawn in February - weekend sleep-ins till 7 am ahead of 20 milers - I sometimes think it's the training that keeps me going not the goal. Why else would I contemplate my next marathon build with such relish.
What next ...physio and no running over the next month with a switch to bike and swim for my first tri in 5 weeks time. At least I can concentrate on these disciplines without going crazy.