One of my goals almost ten years ago was to see if I could break the five-hour barrier after completing my first marathon in Dusseldorf in a time of 5 hours and twelve minutes.
My primary goal was to make sure my four friends, who had never run a marathon before, completed the race successfully.
As it became clear that they would finish comfortably, I could start thinking about finishing in under 5hrs, especially as we had made good progress in the first 3/4 of the race.
According to my Nikeplus app, we had completed 30km in just around 3hrs 24 minutes which was an average time of 6 mins 48 seconds per km.
I also knew that I needed to complete the marathon at an average of around 7 mins 10 secs per km in order to break 5 hours, which meant that even though I was starting to slow down, I still had a chance to complete the race in under 5hrs.
I just needed to ensure that I kept my average speed below 7 mins 10 seconds, and as Nikeplus informed me of this every minute I ran it allowed me to focus on this.
As I started to get close to the 40km barrier, I was really feeling it, I was almost walking as much as running but my average time was just 7 mins per km, with just 2 km to go I was still slowing but I felt I could keep going and break the 5-hour barrier.
All I was focused on was keeping my average time below 7mins and 10 seconds.
As I approached the last km, I was getting closer, my average was 7 mins 8 seconds, so I needed to put in a final push, I couldn’t afford to slow down much more.
I was dead on my feet but was determined, as I got the 500m to go I got a shock, I found that I had been running for 4hrs and 48 minutes, which meant that I needed to complete the last 500 meters in under 2 minutes.
500m in under 2 minutes is something that maybe I could do if I was completely fresh and only running 500m, but at the end of the marathon, no chance!
My problem was that I made a rookie mistake.
I had been focused on my running distance as measured by my Nikeplus.
The problem is though, that when you run a Marathon you actually run more than 42km because you’re not able to keep to the racing line. In fact, to complete a marathon you normally run between 43 and 44km depending on how well you can keep to the racing line.
So by focusing on the average time to complete 42.1km, and using my Nikeplus measurements, I was always going to be around 7 minutes short.
I was gutted, I actually finished in 5hrs 2 minutes, so close and yet so far.
All because I didn’t have transparency in my true performance, I had the right idea, but the wrong measurement.
This is why Transparency is important.
So once you’re Focused on the right things, make sure you have Transparency into your true performance against the actual goal!
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