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My Third Marathon [With Animation] – Good Day – September 25th, 2016

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Published on , last updated on April 29, 2021

My experience running the Nottingham marathon

Back in 2015, I had set myself the personal goal of finishing a marathon in under 4 hours. My previous attempts were technically failures. I finished my first marathon in about 4:22:00. My second marathon was better, but still not good enough (finished in about 4:07:00). On the 25th of September, I ran my third marathon in Nottingham, England. You know the saying: “Third time’s the charm”? I finally managed to beat my target during the Nottingham Marathon, but it wasn’t easy!

I have tracked my happiness throughout this day, and also during the race itself. Before trying to explain what this experience did to me, I want to show you a quick summary of what happened. The animation below shows my whole experience in a graph.

Happiness throughout Nottingham marathon animation
Animating my happiness while running my third marathon!

Just like I did during my previous marathons, I mentally recorded my happiness ratings during my run. This shows how I felt during this 42,195 meter long run. If I wanted to reach my goal, then I needed to run the entire marathon with an average speed of 10.55 [km/hr].

This was also the first marathon I ran with my Garmin Forerunner 235, which had much better GPS compared to my smartphone. It also tracked my heart rate, which I’ve obviously visualised as well ๐Ÿ™‚

Before continuing, I want to show you how exactly I tracked my happiness on this day. How did running my third marathon in Nottingham, England influence my happiness?

The data

Below is the data that I entered in my personal happiness tracking journal. This is how I rated my happiness on this day.

DateSeptember 25th, 2016
LocationNottingham, England
Happiness rating8,50
CommentRan the Nottingham Marathon! What an experience!

The first 10 kilometers were hilly. After those hills, I managed to maintain a solid pace. Things started getting rough when I passed the 35 kilometer point. I entered hell at kilometer 38. Holy shit, these marathons don’t get any easier…

When I passed the 41 kilometer point, I started to panic. I thought I wasn’t going to reach my goal time of <4:00:00, so I initiated an epic sprint. This entire final kilometer was very blurry, I don’t even remember much of it. I only focused on runnning as fast as possible. The pictures of my face must be hilarious…

I eventually crossed the finish line in 3:59:58. VICTORY! Holy hell, I was euforic. What a day, what a day…

I waited for my sister after finishing. In the meantime, I met Alan again, who I passed somewhere around kilometer 35. He wanted to finish under 4 hours as well, but he hit the dreaded wall. It was very nice to meet him. My sister eventually finished in 5,5 hours. COMPLETELY SHATTERED. She’s never going to run a marathon again, and hated every moment of it. Lol. It surprises me that she actually managed to finish again, given her lack of preparation.

We’ve returned to our hotel now. It’s funny to watch her stumble with every step (“ouch, ouch, ouch”). The rest of the day was very relaxing and nice. What a beautiful day again!
Positive factorsRunning, Family
Negative factors

I finally ran a marathon under 4 hours!

I was so happy that I finally managed to beat my 4 hour goal. This had been a personal goal of mine for almost 2 years.

I beat it with only 2 seconds left on the clock! 3:59:58. How crazy is that?

If I hadn’t sprinted the last kilometer, I would have never beaten my goal.

Sprint is a big word here. If you had seen me ‘sprint’, you would have probably laughed your ass off and called me an idiot. In reality, my final sprint was really nothing more than a slightly faster jog. However, you shouldn’t expect something spectacular of a sprint after having already ran 40 kilometers.

To me, that slightly faster jog felt like an explosion of energy. I felt like I was Husain Bolt on drugs. My survival instincts took over, and I ran like a complete madman. I watched the seconds go by on my watch. I had one eye on the timer, and the other one on the finish line. It truly was a fantastic final sprint, and I reached my goal because of it.

The Nottingham Marathon

The marathon itself was lovely. The organisation and route itself were perfect. I ran my previous marathons in the Netherlands, so wasn’t used to running on hills. Therefore, first 10 kilometers were quite a challenge. However, once I passed those hills, I gradually maintained a perfectly steady pace that would get me to the finish line.

I was hoping I’d be able to have more control over my heart rate. My plan was to maintain about 165 beats per minute. But these hills at the start of the marathon quickly destroyed my plan. My heart rate was relatively high right from the get-go. I wanted it to drop back to my target range, but that didn’t happen. I finished the Nottingham marathon with an average heart rate of 174 beats per minute… Not what I had planned.

Logically, it took me quite a while before I fully recovered from this event. I had pushed my body to its absolute limit, but the feeling of reaching my goal was absolutely worth it!

The marathon experience

Reaching my goal wasn’t the only thing that made me as happy as I was. No, it was the entire marathon experience itself that was so much more valuable to me.

When I was waiting for the start of the marathon, I met up with a local from Nottingham, Alan. He was a super friendly guy, and we were starting in the same wave. We had the same goal: to finish this damn thing in under 4 hours. We wished each other the best of luck, and parted our ways when the marathon started.

Alan and I briefly ran into each other multiple times during the marathon. It really surprised me how much stimulation I got from the social interaction during the Nottingham marathon. Just a quick “HEY, GOOD LUCK MATE, SEE YOU AT THE FINISH LINE” was enough to bring a smile to my face. You know, I didn’t run this marathon alone. There were more than a thousand other runners with me on the road. It felt like we were all part of a team, and we had one goal: to reach the finish line. That feeling of cooperation and determination was fantastic to experience. It’s what made the Nottingham marathon that much more special for me.

I also ran into my sister once during the marathon. She was having a bit more trouble maintaining her speed. But she never gave up! Sure, it might have took her a little longer. And sure, she might not have liked the second half that much. But she still finished! And that’s what matters. This entire marathon was a great way for my sister and I to bond, and I will never forget this day for the rest of my life.

So now what?

So I finally beat my marathon goal. I finished a marathon within 4 hours.

I asked myself: “what’s next?”

Well, because of tracking happiness, I knew that I shouldn’t stop running these marathons, as they have greatly increased my happiness. Why stop here?

Sure, I might have reached my goal. But why not a new goal? I decided that I wanted to beat my new personal record, meaning my time of 3:59:58.

Running has such a great influence on my happiness. Why would I ever decide to stop running just because I had reached some goal? That would be silly ๐Ÿ™‚

Closing words

And with that, I want to end this post. I hope posts like these help you understand what tracking happiness means to me.

If you are also aiming to run a marathon under 4 hours, please know that it took me 3 goddamn tries! These marathons didn’t get any easier for me, but finally reaching my goal was one of the best feelings I ever had. Don’t let anything stop you from pursuing your goals!

If this inspires or interests you in any way, feel free to contact me or leave a comment below!

Have you finished a marathon before? If so, let me know if your experience was any different from mine! I would love to know! ๐Ÿ™‚


Good days: In the โ€˜Good daysโ€™ post series, I will highlight some of the best days of my life. Not just any days, but the days where I tracked the highest happiness ratings. I will detail some of the journal entries and happiness ratings on specific above-average days. The goal of this series is to show you how exactly I am tracking my happiness. In a best case scenario, it inspires you to determine the added value of tracking happiness and therefore start for yourself.


Hugo Huijer

Founder of Tracking Happiness

Founder of Tracking Happiness and lives in the Netherlands. Ran 5 marathons, with one of them in under 4 hours (3:59:58 to be exact). Data junkie and happiness tracker for over 7 years.

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