VLM; the final countdown and fun facts!

Posted on: 17 Apr 2019

After all this waiting the London Marathon is nearly upon on us!  It does feel like the training is never ending, but this is probably because the race is the latest it can be in April and my fellow marathoners who ran Manchester, Paris, Brighton, The Great Welsh now have their feet up and are basking in their glory whilst the London posse are still out there pounding the streets!  Another reason for the seemingly never ending training is that my plan started 17 December as it had to be extended due to my holibobs, not that I’m complaining about that of course! 

This is the first time I have followed a 3 run per week plan, having heard and read lots of positive feedback for this I felt it would work for me as I could include cross-training of RPM classes, swimming training and gym work.  Over the years I’ve found just running has caused minor niggles and I’ve often found myself running ‘junk’ miles.  I really enjoy my RPM class, body strength workouts and swimming training so it was a win, win situation as I could add these to my 3 run a week plan and would then hopefully get the best of everything.  After much research I eventually found a plan that would work for me, added in my cross training, tweaked the weekend long runs to tie in with the races I had entered and below is what I ended up with. 

Even with the holidays my training has gone really well, surprisingly well in fact, and over the weeks I have watched my pace in the effort sessions improve and my race times at both the Newport Half and Fisson 20 miler far exceeded my expectations.  So in theory the plan has worked better than I could have ever dreamt of but come marathon day who knows what will happen!  All I know is that I’m in the green start, my running number is 58543, I’m as ready as I can be, I’ll give it my all and I can’t wait to see the incredible Buzzer support crew at 22.5 miles!

So here are some fun facts on the London Marathon and marathons in general!:

  • The first London Marathon was in 1981.
  • Gillette was the first ever sponsor of the London Marathon.  The next sponsor was Mars after the decision was made to pay the elite athletes, increasing the funding amount that was needed.
  • Between 1982 and 1993 the London Marathon finished on Westminster Bridge. It had to be moved in 1994 when repair work began on the bridge.
  • Jenny Wood-Allen became the oldest runner to finish the London Marathon in 2002.  She was 90 at the time and took 11 hours and 34 minutes to finish.
  • According to London Marathon data recorded by Strava, the fastest runners are in the 35 to 44 age group.  The second fastest are 45 to 54, proving experience is a major factor in doing well.
  • There are more than 100 official Guinness World Record attempts at the London Marathon.  Record titles include “fastest marathon carrying a household appliance” and “fastest marathon dressed as a plant”.
  • Most dramatic marathon finish was in the 1908 Olympics Italian runner, Dorando Pietri finished first in the marathon but was subsequently disqualified because the umpires had helped him up as he had fallen five times in the last few kilometres.
  • One of the most outstanding marathons ever was Emil Zatopek’s win in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics marathon.  This was off the back of gold medals in the 10,000m and 5,000m, completing a truly remarkable treble which is unlikely ever to be repeated.
  • The marathon distance only became 26.2 miles during the 1908 London Olympics. Queen Alexandra requested that the distance was adjusted so the royal household could see the race from Windsor Castle. Prior to this - from 1896 to 1908 marathons of approximately 25 miles were held.
  • The first 26.2 mile marathon started at Windsor Castle
  • The fastest woman still is Paula Radcliffe has the fastest women's time (2:15:25 London 2003). Who knows when this record will be beaten?
  • The fastest man is currently Eliud Kipchoge from Kenya (2:01:39 Berlin 2018).  Will this be broken in London this year?
  • The slowest Olympic marathoner was Japanese runner, Shizo Kanakuri, who holds the world record for the slowest marathon (54 years, 8 months and 6 days, 5 hours and 32 minutes). After dropping out of the 1912 Stockholm Olympics (but not reporting this), he was invited back to finish the race some 50 years later.
  • The Everest marathon is the highest marathon in the world.  The start line is at Gorak Shep 5184m  (17,000 feet), close to Everest Base Camp in Nepal.
  • At 200 meters below sea level in the Jordan Valley, the Tiberias marathon is considered to be the lowest marathon in the world.
  • The first marathon in Space was by British astronaut, Tim Peake, who ran the London marathon from space in April 2016.
  • Just a few hundred yards from the South Pole, the Antarctic Ice marathon which takes place in November is the most southerly marathon. It's one of the most remote places in the world and the coldest temperature ever recorded was there is around minus 130 degrees!
  • The North Pole marathon which takes place in April is the most northerly marathon. Apart from the fact that you are running on an ice floe on top of the ocean, there are polar bears to contend with!
  • Two confectionary bars have a marathon connection.  Runners of a certain age will remember the “Marathon” bar, sadly renamed “Snickers” in 1990 as part of a global rebranding exercise. Mars sponsored the London marathon between ’84 and ’88.  They provided free Mars bars in the finish area – possibly not the perfect recovery food!   The Snickers bar - originally the 'Marathon bar' in the UK

I still can’t believe I was lucky enough to win my VLM place (plus hotel and coach to the start!) via a Facebook competition so whatever happens I will cherish every moment, I can’t promise I won’t grimace at times but I’ll always be smiling on the inside!  Let’s get ready to rumble!

To finish off here’s a cute photo of an elephant from my Sri Lankan adventure!

My sweepstake is still running until Saturday 27th April if you fancy a go; https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/libbylaird

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