Draycote Water Marathon

After my post earlier in the week I've been using a large amount of Vicks First Defence as I had developed a very slight dry cough. I was worried that it might develop into a full on cold but thankfully it didn’t and on Friday I went for my final 3.5 mile run which confirmed things were not as bad as I had first thought.

At 7.30am I set off for the Draycote Water Marathon and arrived at 8.30 giving me 1 hour to get ready. The temperature was very cold early on with a low of about -2 degrees (-4 when I set off from home!) just before the start and was predicted to rise to about 7 degrees later on. There was also no wind and it was sunny therefore making the conditions as near to perfect as possible. As it was quite cold early on I decided to wear my Helly which is unusual for me along with a woolly hat which I would throw to my friend later on who had come to support me. The total field for the marathon was only about 100, but there was a 35 mile race with another 100 people starting about half a mile ahead of us. For the marathoners there was a short 3 mile loop, before a further 5 laps around the lake. The water station was at the end of each lap which meant water could only be taken every 4.7 miles, but on the plus side you were allowed to leave your own drinks.

The start just sort of happened without any warning and I happened to be in the lead for the first half mile even though I was just jogging. Soon enough things began to sort themselves out and a couple of other runners moved a metre or so ahead so after the first mile I was third. It was at this point that one of the two runners ahead just zoomed off and that was pretty much the last I saw of him. On the plus side I was running at the same pace as the other runner and we just chatted for a while before I gradually moved away by a few metres to the second mile, however soon after he overtook me and opened up a small gap of about 15 metres so I was relegated back to third. It was around this point that we were catching the main groups of runners doing the 35 mile race who started slightly ahead of us. To be honest much of the race was like this - constantly overtaking and lapping runners all over the place, plus also having to dodge quite a lot of leisure walkers etc.

At mile 3 my friend was waiting and he shouted that I was averaging 6.35 (was actually 6.37) min miles suggesting that I was going a bit too fast since my target for the first half of the marathon was to average 6.45 (with a 7 min mile target pace for the second half). It was also at this point that we finished the mini lap and so had five proper laps remaining. After a while I managed to catch the person just ahead of me so we ended up chatting again although after I while I must admit it became a touch tedious and soon enough I dropped back again about 5-10 metres behind. As I found the pace comfortable I just tagged behind for the free ride. Bit by bit our average pace was falling away slightly to about 6.40. Towards the end of the first lap the person just ahead was faffing with his camelbak and I overtook him and opened a small gap. As we started the second lap he had caught me again and I was more than happy to follow behind once more. Part way through the lap I caught him (yet again) and some more chatting ensued. As a result I think we both slowed a fair bit at mile 8-9 and our 30 seconds of credit ahead of 6.45 pace disappeared so my average at mile 9 was bang on 6.45. I think my friend who happened to be at that point was thinking that our pace dropping away wasn’t a very good sign (as the last few miles must have been quite a bit slower to bring the average to 6.45). However up to this point I was still feeling pretty reasonable and the miles just came and went.

I think the poor split time at mile 9 came as a bit of a shock and the person I was running with was just beginning to run a touch too slowly for me. As a result I pulled away slightly and from this point onwards I was on my own. I averaged at around my target time to the half marathon point and went through 13.1 miles in around 1.28.26.

It was pretty much at this point I decided to put some extra effort in even though it wasn’t part of my game plan to average quicker than 6.45 (sorry I keep mentioning the target time, but it reflects how much I was focused on this target pace). I don’t recall the reason why I started to run a bit faster - I think it was a case of having a good mile and somehow this new pace just stuck. I was content to continue running a bit quicker as I knew that for every mile I could keep going at this pace it would bank me some time later on if/when I hit the wall.

It was around 15 miles I was beginning to hurt and I couldn’t even remember how far I had run. Such was the increase in speed from mile 13-16 my split pace for these three miles was 6.34 min miles therefore also bringing my overall average down. Miles 16-19 were really hard as I knew I was still a long way from finishing. To say it was an un-pleasurable experience was an understatement. I could feel my muscles starting to seize up and my tendons were starting to really tighten. The final lap and thus last 5 miles were really difficult and I was concerned that I was starting to hit the wall. Thankfully although I was always feeling that I was about to hit the wall it never really happened. With just the last lap remaining I knew that assuming I didn’t slow dramatically I was going to break 3hrs easily, and with just 3 miles remaining my friend shouted that I was on for a sub 2.55 . I used this as a spur although I was pretty much at my maximum by this point anyway and was starting to really struggle. Thankfully the finish was not far away and I just kept trying to tick each mile off one by one. Not far after I was in sight of the finish but had nothing left and I crossed the line in a total time of 2.53.24 which I'm very pleased with. I also finished a very comfortable second.

The below shows my pace at various points as taken by my friend. The splits are not my average pace, but my pace between the previous marker i.e. my 3 mile split is my average pace for miles 2 & 3.

What it basically shows is that my first half of the course was bang on target pace, although up to that point I was slowing down bit by bit. However it was a different story in the second half of the course where you can see my splits suddenly improve between half way and mile 16 and in fact get even quicker thereafter. I have to say the second half didn’t feel that way at all. Don’t be deceived that although I was running quicker I was really hurting in those last 10 miles and frankly I'm amazed with my splits. As a result I seemed to have achieved one of the holy grails of marathon running in that I managed a negative split and by some margin at that! 1.28.29 in the first half and 1.24.56 in the second half!

As seems to be usual these days once I finished I was ready to keel over which caused some concern for the marshals, but a few minutes later I managed to steady myself. Having said that my legs really began to seize up big time so I suspect I'll have a comedy walk for the next few days. As I came second I won a prize which happened to be £55 in cash!!!! All in all a very good weekend! I had a chat a bit later with the guy who won in about 2.47 and he told me that he is also doing the Marathon des Sables next year! As a result a one two for the MdS.co.uk! Third and fourth place finished in a time of 3.00.15 and 3.01 respectively.

The other thing I'm pleased about is that as I've run less than 3hrs I have automatically qualified for the London Marathon over the next two years. Whether or not I do it next year though is debateable as its only a couple of weeks after the MdS! I have also run fast enough to be given a UK ranking - the current 2008 list will place me 10th, though obviously is a bit false as its so early in the year. Based upon the 2007 list it would have placed me 615th which I don’t think is bad for a first attempt.

Finally, there were loads of photos taken which I guess will take a few days to upload. Naturally I'll put them on my blog as soon as I find them!

I'm now going to have a few days off, and will then decide what my plan is for the next few months. As I've run pretty well at Draycote I don’t intend doing another Marathon now until the Autumn.


  1. Superb result, even better a negative split with such a difference! Well done! I can almost see your mind thinking 2:45 is next!

    I can see you receiving one of the yellow elite bibs for stage 4 of the mds at this rate! Great that it was a 1 - 2 for the forum as well!

  2. Cheers Rich, The splits tell a slightly different story when compared to how I felt in the second half. I suspect the photos might prove how bad I felt as my mate said I looked a state!

    2.45 would be nice, but first things first - I suspect I'm still a while away from that kind of time. Going to go for a few halfs etc now - mental scars take a while to recover!

    Not sure who the other chap is - he said he posted on the forum, but I now suspect he was talking about the UK Organisers site rather than mds.co.uk. Might be wrong though!

    Off to spend the cash on booze and food at Tesco's that contain the red stickers for sugar/fat content!

  3. Well done, Lloyd - that's a superb time for your first marathon. Give yourself plenty of time to recover from it - when I did my best marathon (a lot slower than that) I could barely jog the next week. Oh, and consider yourself lucky you didn't do the run that one of my club's "ultra" runners did - 50 miles along the Thames path (apparently often used as training for the MdS); this year it involved wading through waist-deep water!

  4. Mate that is one awesome time, and very inspirational for me too to try and get into the 3:30's... although target is still to break 4 hours first and foremost. Nevertheless I'm really impressed with it, and you should be very proud too!

  5. Fantastic result Lloyd, well done!


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