Leicester is a city slap bang in the middle of England about halfway between London and Liverpool, famous for Garry Lineker, Walkers Crisps and Leicester City Football Club. Back in season 2015/16 Leicester City would go on to lift the English Premier League title. My own showing at the Leicester Marathon on the 25th of October 2015 would be somewhat less triumphant, hitting the wall badly around the half way point to hobble home in 3 hours 34 minutes.
It all started so promisingly. I’d arrived home from China with a few days to rest and get adjusted to the time difference. It’d been a couple of years since my last marathon and at the end of 2014 I’d picked up a nasty injury, but I’d been running well in 2015 an felt I could do well in this race. It was an early start and a long drive to Leicester on the way to Liverpool so we arrived early and had plenty of time to warm up. This part of Leicester looked nice. A nice big park with some tents and plenty of runners warming up.
So feeling confident I pushed my way to the front at the start-line. Big mistake. The first five kilometres coming out of Leicester town centre were downhill and I got carried away with the pack. After this it was difficult to slow down. For the five kilometres I was flying. As we met some rolling hills in the countryside around 10k I decided to stay with the runners around me and hold my pace to push up the hills. I managed to keep this up until the half way point but it couldn’t last.
Around 23k my legs started to tire and I took a gel. From there on in I managed to hold on until 29k to an extent. Then I crumbled. The rest of the race was a real slog and the other runners started to pass me at a terrific rate. I was dreading the hill back up into Leicester city centre. Being passed by a guy dressed in a bear suit was a particularly low point, but my injury from the previous year helped me put things into perspective and I managed to draw some comfort from the fact was still moving and hadn’t hurt myself too badly this time. It was annoying to have to stop and walk a few times but I knew I could make it under four hours if I kept pushing.
Eventually I managed to drag myself up the cobbled streets toward the finish. There were quite a few punters out shopping and drinking in the city centre but not much to look at. I picked up my pace a little to cross the line at around 3 hours 34 minutes and sat down on the grass. I hadn’t ran well, but at least it was another marathon on the slate and I could think about how to run better for the next one. This would be a couple of weeks later in Shanghai. Maybe it was time to adjust my targets. Certainly, I’d have to pace myself better. At least there’d be plenty of space for improvement.