Sarah was aiming for a sub 3:45 PB and GFA and I offered to pace/irritate her all the way around, so we set off with the 3:45 pace group, although we pulled a little way ahead of them early on. It was all pretty uneventful from that point in a weird way. The weather was nice, although it warmed up towards the end, the course was pretty flat with just a couple of short-ish hills, and for a long stretch in the middle we were just trotting nicely through the countryside. The route was a lot like the Preston Guild marathon, country roads, little villages, quite exposed but ok in the conditions.
We went through half way in about 1:50, and although Sarah was getting a little less chatty we were running nice even splits, and she seemed to be pacing it really well. I was mostly just sitting a smidge behind her so that we were running at her pace rather than mine for as much as possible, figuring if she started to slow down too much I’d push forward a bit and try to pick the pace up and pull her along. It wasn’t until around 22 miles that she showed any real signs of having to dig in, but even then although she was a bit less comfortable than earlier on, it wasn’t affecting her pace. I just ran along with her talking rubbish in the hope that it’d either take her mind of the running or annoy her so much she ran faster and got done quicker.
With a couple of miles to go we we’re comfortably on target, although I think Sarah was getting worried we were cutting it a bit fine, especially when with about 800m to go someone shouted out “five more minutes” which would’ve taken us over 3:45 if it’d been anywhere near right. As it was we finished about 2 minutes later, crossing the line in 3:42 and change, a big PB for Sarah, and a guaranteed place at London for 2017 and 2018.
For me it was just awesome to see Sarah smash her PB, she was just so happy at the finish it was amazing! On a more personal level a super-steady 3:42 was probably just what I needed. I’ve got a weekend off next week before the Ennerdale 50k the week after and four marathons in a week after that, so running Chester at the pace I did should mean I’m straight out running again later today.