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My Marathon – John Chambers


My marathon journey began in 2015. Having started cycling in 2011 when I joined ScottishPower and they were supporting the London to Brighton bike ride I thought I would give it a go. I remember thinking “26.2 miles is a long way!”, as it turns out it isn’t any more as having completed Coast to Coast on three occasions, twice in one day and once over two days, several of the local 100 mile sportives, a 400 mile charity ride over 3 days through work and then a 201 mile ride in a day it seemed I had this cycling lark cracked.  So what next? The logical step, well to me was to have a go at running again having done a bit in my youth – how hard could it be? In my initial runs my head was remembering my youth and thinking I should be running at world record pace, yet my legs and other bodily functions had different ideas!

This is where I engaged with Steve Clark to coach me towards my goal, as after one run i thought right, I am going to do and ironman! Cycling not an issue, swimming not the best but I had time to work on that (and still am) but I needed to know I could run a marathon before I started my Ironman journey.

2015 saw a good start to the year, Ferriby 10 miler in just under 75 minutes, not world record pace but not bad for my little legs but everything seemed to go downhill from there. I ran Gainsborough 10k in a slower pace than I had run Ferriby, which considering it is pan flat was shocking. In May, I had an operation on my shoulder (Sub acromial decompression) due to a partially torn ligament after falling off my bike (embarrassingly in my garage off my rollers) and had struggled with running more than 4 miles ever since due achilles tendonitis which continued to hamper me for 3-4 months after. A holiday in Florida seemed to cure this – walking miles every day and 6 runs in the humid heat, when I got home my achilles issues seemed to disappear – so on with the marathon training. It was always going to be difficult trying to cram training in for a marathon into 6 weeks but I was determined to complete it. Nearly all other training was dropped so I could focus on my running. Between 7th September and 16th October, I managed two 20 mile runs, 2 half marathons and many smaller runs in between. All went well considering, not pushing too hard but just enough to make sure I could complete the distance. My final 20 mile run in just under 3 hours gave me the confidence I could do this and I actually started to look forward to my marathon – some would say excited!

I travelled to Leicester the day before, with my training partner Mal Whitelam – an experienced runner but he was helping me to succeed in my goal. He had put up with a lot of moaning from me as we had pounded the streets, early mornings and late evenings but all good. Race day began with a 0630 alarm, a good solid 7 hours sleep served me well. Porridge and cereal bar for breakfast, and more importantly a cup of tea to get me going (plus a few dolly mixtures for good measure). We travelled to Victoria park early enough to get parked and we had about a 1 mile walk to the start – this served us well to keep me mobile having to walk back after we had finished. The start was delayed by 5 minutes, which was annoying as it was cold and had just started to rain. I was feeling  good at this point, apart from cold hands. My initial target (of many) was to run at 8:20/mile which would bring me in around 3:40 but as we started and got into our running, ended up being nearer 8:10/mile which would have brought me in around 3:35. I took gels at miles 6, 12, 18 and 21 carrying a bottle of lucozade sport up until mile 18 and taking on water at the feed stations every 3 miles. We went through half way in 1:48 – all was good but around mile 18/19, the wheels fell off a little as the elevation started to increase – basically it was uphill for the last 6 miles which started to take its toll on my legs.


I had never run this far before. I think this is where I was suffering due to the short time to train, lack of long miles in my legs but I was determined to finish. I didn’t stop just slowed down to ensure I could keep moving. I realised my initial goal was going to slip by, but the way my legs were feeling (wooden) it was going to be a struggle but I pressed on knowing that all i had to do was keep moving. My last four miles were all 10 minute miles bringing me home in just over 3 hours and fifty minutes. Not bad for a first attempt, slightly disappointed that I missed my goal but pleased I had completed it nevertheless.

Now having completed my first, it’s time to look at 2017 and set new challenges for that, ultimately Ironman Wales in September 2017.

Many thanks to Steve Clark at OffThatCouch Fitness for his support and guidance, and for Mal Whitelam to listen to me moaning at him whilst we were training.

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