How many times lately did you dream so big that you are frightened to even think about it? That’s where I am now. Ground zero. Only a dream. A big one! After enjoying a chillaxed 3h10 marathon on the hills of the Kauai island, I had to upgrade my dreams. This story is about how my 2h40 marathon story started.
It wasn’t too long ago when Andreea and myself were running our first ever marathon, London. It was in 2016. I crossed the finish line after 3 hours and 49 minutes. Not bad for a first one but I failed my target of 3h30 – based on nothing but gut feeling :). That finish time made me proud, but at the same time modest about the distance and the goal.
I became mellow with my dreams and I wanted to finish my next marathon in 3 hours 20. And maybe, just maybe the second next would be a sub-3-hour marathon. You see, sub 3 hours means the same “2 hours something” as the fastest marathon runners. Even though their “something” is 5 minutes and yours is 59, it’s still 2 hours something.
In 2017, I heard of this project about bringing together the best marathon runners in the world and prepare and train them specifically to break the 2-hour barrier. It was called #breaking2 and I’m sure you heard about it and Eliud Kipchoge’s fantastic race, finishing in just 25 seconds over the two hours target. But before it happened, I really believed that they were going to break under two hours.
And there it was. It just clicked. I got afraid that, if I were going to wait another year, my sub-3 marathon would no longer be in the same 2 hours something as the elites. They would be 1 hour something. Combine that with the fact that I was comfortable with running at around 4:15 min/km and you’ve got yourself a big dream. My second marathon was going to be a sub-3, a full hour faster than my first one. In just 18 months.
Needless to remind you that I ran the 2017 Chester Marathon in 2 hours 56. It was crazy, hard, some even said it was out of my league. But I did it. So I set my next goal to 2h50. Same post marathon story, mellow and modest. I’m pretty sure this marathon distance scares the hell out of anyone, not just me.
My training derailed multiple times in 2018, so I couldn’t push too hard in Kauai. But when I got back, my application for Good For Age at London Marathon 2019 was accepted. And I thought: What time do I need to run London so that I can qualify for ANY next Marathon Major? Berlin and Tokyo are the hardest to be eligible for, they both have a 2h45 limit for my age group. So what’s better than 2h45? Chances are still pretty thin at 2h44 so a comfortable gap would be 2h40.
Of course, the next valid question anyone should ask about their goals is “can I do it?”. That’s 3:47 min/km or 6:06 min/mile. So can I do a marathon in 2h40? Hell yeah! Is it going to be easy? Hell no! But I’ve got myself plenty of time. That’s why I started my training shortly after Kauai mid-September. What will follow are going to be the hardest, coldest and most meticulously prepared six months of my life.
I’m only at the beginning of my journey, but the more I think of it and the more I run, the closer it feels. It just feels right. I guess we just have to see where the training gets me.
See you on 28 April 2019!
Until then, tell me, what’s your scariest running goal?