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The B race

October 20, 2011
The runners gathering for the 2011 Virgin London Marathon at Blackheath

Runners gathering at Blackheath for the start of the 2011 Virgin London Marathon

If there’s one thing last year’s Virgin London Marathon has taught me, it’s that you can put in the training but you can’t always control your health or the conditions on the day of the race.

After months of training, I spent the last week of my taper fighting off a cold, which was still with me on race day. A couple of miles into the race it became clear that I was going to need to shoot for my B goal (getting Good for Age), and leave my A goal (a new sub 2:59 PB) for another day. However, with no opportunity to aim for that target again in the immediate future, I just felt a bit deflated and disappointed.

Fortunately, with my B goal achieved, I’m starting the 2012 Virgin London Marathon at the Red Start in the Good for Age pen. Again, my A goal is a new sub 2:59 PB, and again I’m going to be putting in the months of training to achieve that goal. But this time, lesson learnt, I have a B race to have another bite at the cherry if things go wrong.

The Virgin London Marathon is on 22 April 2012. My B race is a month afterwards: the Edinburgh Marathon on 27 May 2012. So, should an untimely bug strike on the eve of my A race, I’ve got time (and peace of mind) to recover from it for the B race. The A race is my main focus, but the B race is the contingency option.

While the London Marathon is pretty much flat, the Edinburgh Marathon has a net elevation loss that just keeps it within the IAAF World Record rules. Most of the descent is in the first six miles on the route out of Edinburgh, and while that makes it sound comparatively easy-going, the final six miles are along the coast and prone to tough headwinds.

Given the different course profiles, I’ll have to vary my training terrain and use the month gap between races as a tune-up period to prepare for the quad-bashing downhill. I’ll also have to work out techniques to speed my recovery after my A race to incorporate a mini-spike in training volume between races.

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