James Orams Marathon Story
After smashing the club’s marathon record (and also the VM record at the same time) with a 2:43:43, James Oram shares his marathon story with the website.
My father-in-law is fond of saying, “a runner runs” as well as I did not feel that I had done myself justice at London previously. This would be my third London marathon and, going into the start of training, felt like my best shot to date to atone for the schoolboy mess I made of 2013 where I went haring off and getting to 10k only 12 seconds outside my personal best. I had also been running with the Striders for about 9 or 10 months by the time I started training and felt like I was going into it in really good shape.
My original intention was to following one of the plans in ‘Advance Marathoning’because ‘Basic’plan in this had worked really well for me before when doing my 2nd marathon in Chester in 2012. However, I had forgotten that the plans were basically about distance, distance and distance. This is fine if you have the time but a midweek 15 mile evening run in winter is not fantastic when you have a family.
I settled on a training plan of doing the weekly club nights to make sure there was quality and speed but to commit to a long run every weekend I was wasn’t racing. The full winter of cross country for the first time ever after encouragement from Brendan (CLC Striders’Head Coach) gave me a good feeling that training was going well.
For me the key difference this year was managing to combine both speed sessions and regular long runs for the first time ever. The long runs were also being run a good deal faster that I used to run on my own as I was often out with various Striders for weekend run company (Chris “GPS” Hale, Dave, Bill and John Howes for several early morning Sunday runs with painful hill experiences shared with Iain and Will).
The first sign I was getting to better shape was Bourton 10k but went under 35 mins for the first time and 1:40 off my 10k PB since the summer. Then a Bath Half Marathon gave me a 3:20 improvement in my PB. Brendan gave me the belief that I could do out faster than 6min/mi and believe I could skick with it for the distance. The same happened at Gloucester 20 miler and was really pleased to run 2:02.
The problem was I felt I was in really good shape but didn’t really have a feeling as to what my target should be but I felt that I should be able to run a PB. I also managed to negotiate my niece’s 18th birthday party on the Saturday without a problem. The weather also started to help as it cooled down from the sunshine during the week.
Whilst not at all confident about the idea of targeting 2:46, I did figure that I should set off well ahead of my previous 2:52 PB pace. Partly as I have always run fast first halves of marathons and partly as, if I was in shape to run faster, I did not want to leave myself too much to do in the unpleasant tail end section.
I did of course get a bit carried away as ever once it started. With the first few miles downhill and the crowd support I got dragged along faster than I should have, going through 10k in 36:10 and halfway in about 1:18 when I was aiming for 37-38 mins and about 1:20. That said, I had enough faith in the training that it would hopefully not turn into the car crash second half of 2 years ago (positive split by 28 mins between halves…).
Crowds were amazing, as ever at Cutty Sark and Tower Bridge but this time added to with spotting Smeath and Juan as I crossed the river, but also all the way round. Felt brilliant to 15 miles, a bit struggly through to 18 and was then worried the wheels were falling off 19-22. Kept looking at my watch though and could see I was, albeit very painfully, holding it to 6:20s and 6:30s so figured if I could hang in there and limit the damage should still be on for a comfortable PB.
Saw Becka and the kids with a bunch of family coming out of Blackfriars underpass at 24m and felt for the first time as though I could both get home ok and also that 2:45 should be achievable if could just hang in there. Pace had dropped to 6:40, 6:55 for mile 25 and was really not enjoying myself. Found a little bit extra as came round to houses of parliament, picked it back up to 6:30 and with about 400m to go looked at my watch and saw that if I put my foot down a bit I could creep under 2:44. Painful last burst and crossed line in 2:43:43. PB by 9 mins and over the moon
Overall I think it’s the race performance I’m happiest about to date. However, the downside to that is that it really hurts and more than any of previous 5 marathons
Amazing event and it is just stunning running through the streets with 38,000 other people and a million people cheering you on (including some amazing CLC Striders support â€“ thank you all, for the shouts on the day and the messages and texts and tweets in the lead up, which all made such a difference). So can thoroughly recommend as an experience if anyone is considering it.