Marathon – Conclusion

Following on from my Pre-Marathon Thoughts, here are my thoughts and outline of my first ever actual Marathon that I ran in early May 2024.

The Plan

I had a plan from the start. I work well with plan's, it what I do! My plan for this was to aim to run at 6:00/km pace and finish approx. 4h:15m. Hal Higdon was my virtual\paper trainer, and he stated it was important to not only train for running the distance, but also to train for the food and nutritional aspect of the marathon. Thus, in my long training runs, I've taken an energy gel every 11km (before I get tired). Thus, for the marathon I've packed 3x energy gel's and x1 emergency one. Additional to this, so that I’m not reliant on water stops, took a CamelBak of 1.5litres water with two electrolyte sports tablets in it.

Music playlist has been set up:

  1. DJ-Kicks: The Juan MacLean – This is my warm-up builder.
  2. 50 minutes of classic bangers from my training playlists. Including such tunes as “Bonnie Tyler – Holding out for a Hero”, “Beastie Boys – Body Rockin” and “Tori Amos – Professional Widow”. 😎
  3. Hans Zimmer – Live in Prague. This was deliberate to get into the final zone where it was toughest and run at my planned pace. This should take me to my desired time of 4h 15m, where I end the marathon running to “Time” from “Inception” ⌛
  4. Susanne Sundfør – Ten Love Songs – Over-run music. Similar to my training runs, this is what is played when the album\playlist finished before the training run did.

The Night Before

Urgh – I had a terrible night’s sleep! – Hal Higdon is right – get a good night sleep two nights before the marathon! He says that you'll be anxious, so it's even more important to get that sleep and rest in beforehand. I did however have a great meal out early evening – mac cheese, chicken and flatbread washed down with a couple of 0% abv lagers. Rest of the evening was just the usual fruit teas for hydration, but no caffeine.

The Morning Of

I woke up very anxious indeed. The poor sleep did not help at all. My breakfast was porridge with raisins\cranberries, a milkshake, pain au chocolate and black coffee. On reflection, I probably should have had more, however my anxiety that I'd be too “heavy” running prevented me doing so. Going to the event, the weather looked perfect – it was dry, slightly overcast with low wind. Temperature was approx. 12°C.

Arriving at the event there was the usual parking hell of any sportive. Although we had booked a parking space, it appeared this didn't matter, and we were told to park elsewhere in the car park! This really didn’t contribute to reducing my anxiety! We parked up with 40 minutes to go. Had a few text messages from friends supporting me, which was ace and felt good. My good friend called my wife and told her that he would meet me at mile 20 to support me on the last 6 miles as that is the toughest part. I had very mixed feelings here – firstly, what a great thing to do, supportive, and the right thing to expect from your friend. On the other hand, I just wanted to get into the zone, run the distance, quietly and in my own way with my own music as I had planned! However, I accepted this news, but was also quietly pleased that I would get some company for the last part. After a quick toilet stop at the ever-so-crowded MacDonalds, it was off to the pen relevant for my estimated finish time.

What a lot of people! The event also had a half-marathon running at the same time, so in my pen, I was mixed with half-marathoner's and full marathoners. I got talking to a chap and an elderly couple who were doing marathon and half-marathon respectively. The chap who was a marathon veteran said the best advice is to start slow and go slower. I get it – this what I was thinking all the time in training – maintain the desired pace throughout. My 20 mile runs in training were done solidly at 6:00/km, and to me, this was a “slow” pace. Previous running the year before, I was doing between 5:15/km and 5:45/km for runs up to 15km, so to me – I was running “slower”!

The Marathon

For the first half of the marathon, I was feeling great – I set up a Pace Pro strategy on my Garmin watch, to make sure I didn't go too fast throughout, however with the atmosphere and the fact that I was running with a load of “half-marathoners”, I did go slightly faster than I should. (See below actual pace vs PacePro of Garmin). Those that were running the Half, were obviously running at a different pace to me – I really should have slowed down more! My wife and youngest son were there to cheer me on, they managed to get to two different places on the course, which was lovely to see and have their support cheering me on!

PacePro vs Actual Pace

The second half of the marathon was definitely tougher. There were less supporters (as most had done their part for the Half-Marathoners), and the road and route was clearer with bigger gaps between the runners. My friend did join me at Mile 17 or 18, which I recall was fantastic at the time – so nice to have the company and support with me. I'm not sure when, but at some point after mile 22, my upper thighs started to burn so much. Every stride forward was agony. For the last four miles I ran and walked repeatedly – there was no way I could run (even at a very slow pace) with this pain.

Walk vs Run

In the last two miles, I consumed my last emergency energy gel, and pushed forward. With the finish in sight (under 1km), I continued to run as best I can, as my friend dropped off to meet me at the finish line. I reached the finish line at 4hr 39min. Not my desired finish time, but nevertheless – a completed marathon without injury! Next stop... Food!

Milton Keynes Marathon 2024

Lessons Learnt

Treating this like a business incident\exercise, there were several lessons learnt should I do this again, which there is a strong chance I will do!

  1. Get a good night’s sleep. Ideally don't stay in a hotel in a city centre with nearby nightlife going on, and if you do – spend some extra money to get one with working air conditioning (so don't need to have windows open, thus less noise\disruption).
  2. As the chap said at the start – start slow and run slower. If there is a half marathon happening at the same time, understand that those runners will be going a different pace to you.
  3. Post training runs, I feel I neglected my thighs as part of stretching and cooldowns. I had no issues with my calves, but I did spend more time on them making sure they were properly maintained.
  4. A longer training plan. Although I was running before I started the 16-week training plan, I feel having a longer plan may have prepared me better.
  5. Either do it completely solo, or with a friend the entire way. Although I massively appreciated my friend’s gestures for running with me, going through the pain together, for the entirely would have been preferable as we would both experience and support each other. Just not the middle ground!
  6. Change the music for the first two hours so it's more regular and calmer. My original plan was for Global Underground #24 – Nick Warren however, I changed it last minute. Not sure this would have made a difference or not, but it's a change that I would make should I do it again!


Overall, although I didn't hit my target of completing it in under 4h 20min, I did meet my first aim of actually finishing it. Also, there were some things that I am glad I did – such as booking Spa Day for the day afterwards! Hydrotherapy pools with underwater jets are amazing for sore leg muscles! Additionally, I managed to raise over £1500 for the British Heart Foundation

Although I said to myself, I won't do this again, if the truth be told – I most probably will do, and I may even do the same course this time next year. My friend who joined me said he would happily do this course as his first official marathon, so if he books in, I'll join him.

Note to future self – read this!

#marathon #lifeevents #reflection