Whether your watching from your TV at home, lining the streets of our capital city to shout words of encouragement or one of the lucky ones who managed to get a place in the race itself, the London marathon is always a very special day. Other than the Olympic Games I’m not sure that there is a more awe-inspiring event that brings such a large amount of the county together.
After a real struggle to secure my place in the race last year it had been a lot more straight forwards this time having achieved a ‘fast good for age’ qualifying time. Other than the three weeks I’d been forced to take off due to a back injury my preparations had gone well and I’d managed to get in a little more race specific training than I’m used to these days with such a wide range of events on my racing schedule. I knew what pace I was confident I could maintain and felt good for a PB.
I’d travelled down to London the day before the race, had a good nights sleep in the same hotel I’d stayed in a year before and had a smooth journey on the tube to Greenwich park to arrive in good time for the 10.15am start. The weathermen had predicted rain but the sky’s were looking clear, it wasn’t to hot but not cold either and the wind was minimal. Almost perfect conditions for long distance running.
Everything was looking and feeling good. Exactly what you need before a big race and this showed in my running. I was relaxed and focused which helped me massively in the most important part of marathon running. Staying disciplined. I had a planned pace and I stuck to it which precision ticking off mile after mile feeling strong.
I knew I could get to 10 miles at the pace I was operating at without a problem as I’d done it almost every Wednesday since the turn of the year in solo training runs. My downfall would be going off too fast but my focus remained throughout. That chunk of the race passed without incident and as soon as I ticked off the mile 10 marker I told myself that all I had to do now was the same again. No need to speed up at all, just stay relaxed, stay focused and keep the consistency.
The next big milestone was of course the half way point which I ran through almost exactly on schedule. My only problem now was that my Garmin watch was recording my mile splits earlier and earlier before the course mile markers was reached. I was hoping this would even itself out as the miles went on.
The crowd had been magnificent the entire way so far but at approximately mile 16 I was almost overwhelmed by the amount of noise and encouragement being given out as I ran through an enclosed area of narrow street. It made me realise exactly why this is the most famous marathon on the planet and just how much I was enjoying myself. I’d got to a point where I’d started to really struggle in previous marathons but I was using all the crown energy and I was feeling brilliant. I was very tempted to push the pace up a few torches but I aired on the side of caution knowing that the next few miles is the most common place to hit the wall.
At mile 18 – 19 I received a massive boost as I was still feeling strong at a point where my race had gone to pieces in all of my previous three marathon attempts for a specific time. I reach mile 20 and finally decided the time was right to push on. The next two miles were both sub 6 minutes, one was actually under 5.50. I knew a big PB was on it’s way and in truth that made me get a little lazy and lose my focus for the very first time. I could ease off and still record a faster time than I had even done before and do it without sending myself to hell and back. I didn’t slow dramatically by any means but it was enough to lose my ultimate target for the day of a sub 2.45 clocking.
At mile 23 I ran through a long tunnel, as I came back out into the bright daylight I became dazed. This was the first time in the entire race that I wasn’t feeling good. I spend the next few minutes a little dizzy and just trying to stay on my game enough to ensure nothing went dramatically wrong. The feeling eventually passed and before I knew it I was on the mall for the final stretch to the finish. I upped my pace again and stuck for home.
I crossed the finish line in a time of 2 hours, 46 minutes and 12 seconds. A PB by almost 3 minutes. I was very satisfied and proud as I collected my medal. All the training had paid off. The only slight annoyance was that my Garmin hadn’t caught up with the course mile markers and recorded me to have ran a distance of 26.50 miles giving me average mile splits of 6.17, exactly the pace I set out to run for that sub 2.45 finishing time. That’s just the nature of long distance running though and along with how strong I felt for the majority of the race it gives me great confidence that I can run a marathon faster some time in the not too distant future.
With a fast good for age qualifying time secured I will most certainly be signing up again for next year. This is a race everyone involved in running should take whatever opportunity they can to be involved in and is glad that so many do. The crowd was beyond anything I’ve ever witnessed before in this sport and enough to inspire you to get round and complete the course whatever your fitness level. London, I thank you.