race that dare not be named (mostly training compromises, admittedly), guest blogger, Lazy Girl Running, expertly shows us how you can have your cake and eat it:
In a moment of taper madness last year before the Nottingham marathon, I entered the Edinburgh marathon eight months later. Then, when a friend had to drop out of Brighton marathon and offered me his place I said 'why not'. It may have been just six weeks before Edinburgh but in my over-confident mind it would be killing two marathon-shaped birds with one stone (or two medals out of one training cycle).
Nottingham Marathon was a disappointment. I was looking for a sub-4 time but realistically was probably in 4hr 10min shape. I finished in 4:17, a PB of 14 minutes but not what I'd hoped for. No matter, I had two marathons lined up in which to nail it, so I followed a radical training plan which consisted of going traveling for four months and running just once a week.
Like most Spring marathon runners I included a half-marathon into my training plan in February as a litmus test as to how training was going. Only my half marathon was in Bangkok two days before I flew back to the UK. The race started at 5am. It was already almost 30 degrees. I posted a personal worst of 2:12.
Back home, with just six weeks until Brighton and 12 until Edinburgh, I was ready to crank up the training. But not having anywhere to live in London meant a long commute to and from work everyday plus flat-hunting in the evenings. I was leaving the house at 7am and getting back at 10pm, so I ran in my lunchtime and made the most of my weekend long runs.
With three weeks to go before Brighton marathon, I moved back to London town and was running laps of Hyde Park once more. The plan was to run Brighton with a friend who was aiming to duck under 4:30, so I'd pace her round and treat it as a long training run. It went without a hitch and I enjoyed running with company.
Unfortunately, the four weekends between Brighton and Edinburgh had been filled by the same friend's 30th birthday party, another friend's wedding that I was bridesmaid at, and a hen party I was supposed to be the organiser of. This was not the sort of pre-race build-up I'm led to believe that the elites follow. Training carried on regardless though, and although the Sunday after the hen party I didn't get out of bed until 3pm, on the Monday I was out running my last long run - 18 miles at 8:45 per mile.
When I finally made my way north on the train to Edinburgh Marathon, I'd had an extreme taper that consisted of running just four times in the three weeks before marathon day after experiencing Achilles pain on my last long run. The weekend before, I'd spent the day wearing four inch heels and dancing until 2am at my friend's wedding. But there were no excuses to be made come race day - just the words of K ringing in my ears "SUB 4 OR BUST".
And that's exactly what happened - I got my fairytale ending with a time of a 3:59 marathon and I got to have a ball along the way too. I wouldn't recommend this as a guaranteed sub-4 training plan, but it does prove that you can train for a marathon while having a life.