Tonight is confession time. I am not good at celebrating success. Once I have achieved something that I have been aiming for, such as my sub 3 hour marathon last weekend, my reaction tends to be: well, I'm glad that's done, but what is my next target?
I'm sure it is a flaw in my personality, and one which I know frustrates my wife enormously. I had exactly the same feeling many years ago when I received my exam results at school, the same when I passed my driving test, the same again when I received my final results at university, and I have had the same feeling on many other occasions since. I just don't seem to be able to do anything about it - it's just seems to be something I am stuck with.
In terms of last week's run, why do I not feel more delighted with it? I started running seriously towards the end of 1990, and managed my first sub 3 hour marathon at Inverclyde in August 1991, when I finished in 2.59. At that time I thought it would be the first of many sub 3s, but despite a lot of attempts I did not manage it again until 1996, when I ran 2.56 at Crossmichael. This was followed by a 2.57 in 1997 at Nottingham, and then a 2.56 in 1998 at Inverclyde. Since then the closest I have come was a 3.02 at Loch Ness in 2002, and a 3.03 at Leicester in 2003. As it had been almost 9 years since my last sub 3, I had my doubts whether I would ever achieve it again, although it was interesting to have a look back at what I wrote at the end of December 2006, when I was setting my targets for this year:
Marathon: pb - 2.56 (in 1998); last year's best - 3.18; 2007 target - under 3 hours 10 mins. Call me a dreamer, but I actually believe that I still have another sub 3 hour marathon in me, although only if I give up all the ultra running and make a sub 3 hour marathon my main goal for the year. Realistically, that isn't going to happen, so I would be delighted with anything under 3.10.
Having now done it, I can't help thinking it wasn't as difficult a goal as I have been making it out to be. In fact, in general I don't think I have run marathons as well as I have been capable of - in far too many races I have probably been a bit apprehensive about the distance, and held back rather than push myself to the limit. Of the 42 road marathons I've now done (I've also done 15 ultras and non road marathons, so my official 'total' is 57), my times have been in the following categories:
Less than 3 hours - 5
Between 3 hours and 3.04.59 - 3
Between 3 hours 5 and 3.09.59 - 13
Between 3 hours 10 and 3.14.59 - 3
Between 3 hours 15 and 3.19.59 - 9
Between 3 hours 20 and 3.24.59 - 3
Between 3 hours 25 and 3.29.59 - 2
More than 3 hours 30 - 4
So there you are. Sorry it's all a bit deep and analytical tonight, but you've probably sensed that I'm on a bit of a down at the moment. My mood hasn't been helped by the fact that I've picked up another of these bl**dy viruses that is going around which has meant that, for the last few days a) I've been feeling lousy and b) I haven't been able to run. I guess the break from running will do me no harm at all, and should mean my body gets a chance to recover properly from last week's marathon. That's the theory, but in practice it is still very frustrating. At least we have a long training run planned on the WHW for next Saturday, and then it's the Highland Fling on 28th April. I'm looking forward to both of them. After all, there's no point in looking back when you can look forward instead...