Deka rips up the rulebook!
Sean Kelly reports from Edinburgh Marathon Festival 2011
The day before any marathon, each competitor tries to get their mind-set just right. You review your preparation, focusing on all of the positives and try to convince yourself that your targets, set some time before, are realistic and achievable. You have worked hard and spent a long time putting in the miles before carefully tapering off and looking after your body. You want to be in the best shape possible on the day of the big test.
Then there is the Deka method…
On the Saturday afternoon, David Daniels (DD) called at my house to chat about the following day’s marathon. After reassuring each other that we could go for a sub-3 hour finish he left. He knocked on my door five minutes later to tell me that we would have another passenger on the journey to Edinburgh…Derek Reed. “What?” I asked, “How is he going to make the 26 miles?” I shook my head and thought of the run a few weeks before. I ran 22 miles, DD and Paul Hilton ran 19 and Deka had stopped at 11 miles. The furthest he’d ever run in his life was 16 miles! We both thought that Deka had made a foolish decision and hadn’t given it any thought. In fact the latter was true but the former was not…
In the car on the way up, DD and myself agreed to be positive when talking to Deka. He needed all the help he could get, we thought, to even finish the race. He talked of ducking under 4 hours. I told him that this would be a tremendous achievement. I still thought he had no chance of even finishing. I was worried about having to wait for hours to find him after the race had finished!
We met up with David Appleby at the start and the main topic of conversation was the strong winds that had been forecast all week. By the time we set off the winds were fairly calm. As the miles passed by the wind became stronger on our backs. This was nice but you had the nagging thought, “What happens at 18 miles when we turn into the wind?”
David steadily built up a lead on me from about 3 miles into the race. I managed to knock of the miles at a consistent pace of between 6:38 to 6:48 for 18 miles. I next saw David when I was at about 18.5 miles and he was on the other side of the tape at 19.5 miles. He must have been the best part of 7 minutes ahead! He was having a phenomenal debut at the marathon! “Go on David!” I shouted. I reached 20 miles having averaged 6:43 pace and then my legs became heavy, as they had done last year. This time, however, it was not a shock, I knew I had to ease the pace and, most importantly keep running. Whilst my pace dropped to between 7:30 and 7:45 per mile, I managed to keep running. By now the wind had really increased and it was gusting into our faces. It was HELL! I was counting the miles off one at a time. I did look for Deka on the other side of the road. There was no sign of him. “He must have dropped out,” I thought.
As I passed the 26-mile marker I heard Catherine and Gareth shouting their support. Another person shouted, “Your team-mate’s just around the corner.” David had also experienced the strange sensation of the legs turning heavier than you can imagine unless you’ve ever run this distance.
He recorded a brilliant time of 3 hours 2 minutes and 48 seconds. I finished ten places behind in 3 hours 3 minutes and 29 seconds.
We had both missed out on the sub-3 hours we had hoped for but we were both content with the performance in difficult conditions. To be honest, I think that I would have been very close to 3 hours in better conditions but I wouldn’t have quite cracked it, David may have done.
Collecting my bag, I phoned Trish and then our Club Captain, Paul Hilton. I told him that I did not know what had happened to Deka and we agreed that he had been crazy to run the marathon with no preparation. Paul said that Deka had, “Lost his marbles!”
A few minutes later, there was Deka… He looked so fresh that I assumed he had dropped out at around 11 miles, which is near to the eventual finishing line. “3 hours 24”, he said. “What, you’ve done it in 3 hours 24 minutes?” I gasped. Deka had a huge grin on his face and looked like he could go off and run it all again!
It would be worth having a discussion about what Deka’s performance tells us. Do we need to put in 22-23 mile training runs before a marathon? Do we worry and plan too much before a marathon? What is there to be said for running without any pre-set plans, time targets and pacing? Should we throw caution to the wind and run just how we feel on the day? Seriously, I am going to think carefully about how I prepare for my next marathon…
A special mention to DD who knew, 6 weeks after recording a club-record of 2 hours 50 minutes and 1 second, his body was not ready for another marathon. He drove me and Deka all the way to Edinburgh and back. He also did his best to support David Appleby and myself in the first 6-7 miles running alongside us and encouraging us. Thank-you David – Double Diamond!
All TBH Results from the day – Full & Half Marathon