Bringing things up to date

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Let’s bring everything up to date so that I can just blog about a week’s training at a time from next week.

Firstly, it’s been over 7 years since my last serious race. There were a couple of fun runs and a marathon relay leg in the meantime, but these were as an overweight, untrained person. On 23 Sept 2012, I ran the Charleville half-marathon in 1:42:43, over 3 minutes off my half-marathon best. The story thereafter was one of failed attempts to get back into training and losing weight… until now.

To bring things right up to date, last March I began a series of free personal training sessions over 7 weeks. I didn’t lose weight, but I reckon my body composition changed and upped my metabolism. I lost 7 lbs over the next few weeks without any training, down to about 227 lbs.

Then, July 1st the switch flipped. I was going to do that intense 8-week blood sugar diet (with a bit more than 800 calories to allow for my training). I did with no problem and I lost 29 lbs. Since then, on a more modestly restricted diet, I lost a further 16 lbs. Add in the first 7 lbs and that’s about 52 lbs total since some time in May (I’m now just a shade over 180 lbs).

My training also started on July 1st. In a 1-mile treadmill test back in March, I struggled to do it in 10:30, gassed by going out too fast. Now I can run a mile in probably 6:30 and last weekend completed a 19-mile run at just over 9 minutes/mile. I plan to do 20 miles at the weekend at about 8:45 a mile.

Since July 1st, my plan was always to run a marathon, whenever. A few weeks later and I had made my mind up to run the Clonakilty marathon on Nov 30th. This is way ahead of my original plan to return to marathon running with the Cork City marathon on May 31st 2020. I just felt with my previous marathon experience (and previous weight loss experience) that I would be up for the challenge.

So what is my goal for the Clonakilty marathon? My Garmin 245 watch is telling me I’m in sub-4 hour shape. It analyses a lot of data over several weeks to make that call, and based on the 19-mile run, I think I would be certain to finish a fairly flat marathon (like Cork, which is only moderately hilly) in under 4 hours. However, the Clonakilty marathon is very hilly with nearly 500m of elevation gain. I could do it in under 4 hours, but it would be tough. I’m going to leave my final pacing decisions until closer to the race.

My mileage this training cycle isn’t at the level of what I did 7 years ago. That’s deliberate: I view this next marathon just as a return to what I belong doing. The time isn’t hugely important. It is a stepping stone to getting in even better shape for future marathons to set a new PB time.