As many will know I came to London feeling a little undertrained. Whilst most of you run 5 or 6 times a week I followed a training plan that should have been 4 runs a week but in reality to try and fit in with work and family I have only been running twice a week and after a couple bouts if illness and injury had ditched my plan completely.
My training therefore was a mid week mid length run and a long run at the weekend. Both runs aiming to push myself at around 7min/mile pace.
The weeks missed in training meant I always felt short by a long run or two but aside from that I couldn't do any more. The physio had done their best to break up the scar tissue in my legs and strapped me up in tape with a promise that I would stretch more.... The rest was up to me.
So it was with a small amount if nervousness that I made my way to Greenwich on Sunday clutching like so many around me my red bag. It was easy to strike up conversation in the tube... Probably the only time that is possible in London and I was amazed to find myself talking to two other complete independent strangers also from Devon (Exeter and Seaton) somehow us west country folk are drawn together!
I had hoped to meet a colleague from work who was starting in the Blue start whereas I was in Red but by the time I got there she was already in her area. A quick call to wish each other luck and then I was truly on my own about to step into the starting area and acknowledge that I really was running the marathon today!
My first call was to see Vin in his truck. So nice to have finally met him and we had a great chat. Although he had chalked out messages in the road I'm afraid to say I never saw them in the mass of runners.
I thankfully brought a spare running top and after freezing my are off decided to wear that under my charity vest. I got too hot in 2013 but there was no chance if that this year. I also held off having a pee as long as possible. I had learnt from last time and didn't want to lose my pace or time stopping part way round the course. So with a decent warm up and a very last minute pit stop I made my way to Pen 2 where I stood just 50m from the start line.
Knowing I had started too quickly in 2013 I cautiously began and allowed myself to flow with the river of runners not looking to pass anyone unless they were running against the ebb and flow. When we joined up with the blue start there were a few traditional boos and smiles but it quickly got congested and I lost all hope of trying to follow the blue line.
The... Disaster..... At mile 5 by the first lucozade station both myself and a chap next to me stood on full bottles of lucozade that hadn't been thrown to the side of the road. My left ankle turned over completely and it was shear agony.... I stumbled as did the chap next to me but kept going. With a slight limp it seared with pain at every step and for a minute all I could think was that I was going to have to drop out. I was angry that the congestion meant I couldn't see the road surface and avoid it and angry that it had been dropped there. I decided to try and run it off and decided that all hope if a good time was now lost. Thankfully after a couple of miles it did start to ease and I managed to run it off... Though I wondered how long that would last knowing the pounding it would get.
Sadly I missed Vin at Cutty Sark though there were plenty of people shouting my name and I was waving to them all so maybe he saw me wave back.
At this point I was ahead of the 3 hour pacemaker and was comfortably running within what felt like a good pace. I didn't want to be caught up in the gaggle that grouped like flies around him. However as we got to 10 miles he overtook me and I dropped myself back a bit to stay clear of his congested pacing group. I wanted to try and in in some clear space and didn't want to get caught up in the group.
I gave my wife a call whilst running at around 6:50/min mile pace (not an easy thing to do) to let her know I was approaching tower bridge and about 50m behind the 3 hour pacemaker. I had to shout it in my phone a few times as she was struggling to hear me and I got some very strange looks from the runners nearby.... But I felt my pace was good and I wasn't breathless.
Here I am at Tower Bridge....
Halfway came and went and I knew I would be hitting the tough miles but at halfway I could start counting down to the finish.
By mile 16 the noise through canary wharf had started to rise... I passed an architect friend from Plymouth (Jane) who is a solid club runner who can manage a sub 40 10k. A quick hello and I motored on. I checked my time and referred to my 3 hour pace band rather than rely on my garmin distance. Together it had me at mile 16 as being on course for 3 hours. I felt pretty good still and started to dream of a GFA.
By mile 18 the noise was deafening but then the route took a different direction than previous years to avoid construction work and there was a small incline. My ankle buckled slightly and started to throb. That lucozade bottle was coming back to haunt me but I pushed on.
I knew by mile 20 that my pace was dropping as I started to get passed by runners but it was still pretty good.
As I ran along Commercial road I veered across to the barriers off the racing line in a hope to see if I could see my work colleague running her first marathon. I had seen the 4:30 pacemaker and knew she wouldn't be far... A flash of a Tamar Trotters running top and glint of blonde hair and I shouted out to her. I saw her turn but she didn't catch me. Still it made me smile as I began to grimace with my ankle and my legs aching.
Caught up in my own personal battle and starting to slow up I had forgotten all about Jim and HOBS until I heard a louder than normal shout of my name that was more enthusiastic than most... I turned to see a couple of familiar faces and "On a yard" which gave me such a huge lift. Thanks guys.... That was perfect timing.
I only wish following that I had the energy to carry me as fast as my inner strength demanded. Sadly I started to get passed by more runners including that crazy marathon man Rob in a kilt!
The last 3 miles will always be hard but going past the lifeboat station o embankment and the huge crowd they had there was amazing. I applauded them and waved to their cheers. By now I knew a GFA was out but I was happy that a PB was assured. Checking my watch again I wondered if I could hit a sub 3:10 and when I wanted to slow I tried to keep a steady 8:30 pace. It was well off my 7 minute miles but it was consistent!
The last mile is long.... Especially as it is 1.2 given they have no 26 mile marker but the run up to the palace and the turn into the mall is fantastic. With no one near me at the time and seeing other runners joining hands I joined my own hands above my head and crossed the line.
I was delighted to see I had a sub 3:10 recording 3:09:17.
The running off line had killed my distance as my Garmin recorded an extra 0.3 miles ran.
Even more brilliant was the official stats below which showed a consistent pace for the first 3/4 of the race and a sub 1:30 half marathon.... My first time under 1:30 so I had achieved a double PB!!!!!
The support was amazing, I managed to hit my target and raise over £2300 for the RNLI and knocked 6 minutes off my marathon PB whilst also hitting a half marathon PB
So just 4 minutes and 18 seconds to shave off if I want a GFA having knocked 6 minutes off my previous time... I can almost smell it!
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And... The reward!
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