I had the best preparation for what was going to be my 15th and fastest marathon: no injuries, coughs or colds. I was able to get out and train regularly, I managed to run just over 400 miles between January and April and ran a couple of PBs over shorter distances.
Everything went well; I stayed in London for two nights before, rested, no sight-seeing, ate well, drank lots, no alcohol, got to the start on time - found that I didn't need my Helly, gloves etc. crossed the start line very soon after the start and straight into my pace.
I had aimed to run just under eight-minute mile pace; my second mile was 7:50 and comfortable so I endeavoured to hold that pace. It was much warmer than I thought, so I drank at each drink station.
At mile three I overtook a rival, at mile four was joined by a fellow club member who ran with me and chatted for a mile before running off "to do a few fast miles". I held myself back!
At mile 10 the aforementioned rival overtook me and was not seen again.
At mile 16 the Runner's World eight-minute mile pace team overtook, panicking me as I was still two minutes ahead of schedule, and thought they should be behind me. I stayed with them until the next water stop when I got hemmed in and they gradually pulled away.
The crowd support was fantastic - my ears are still ringing, they really carried me along. The crowds have always been great but this year were exceptional. It also helped to run near two other runners with the same name as me (clever enough to put their names on their T-shirts) because all their encouragement I thought was meant for me.
I had slowed a little by 21 miles, but 3:30 was still achievable - but when I got to 23 miles I could not run any further. I did not slow down, feel more tired, develop any cramps or aches: I just had to stop.
Luckily I was just before a water station so I took a bottle and walked with it, I walked to the next water station and then tried to run again but couldn't, walked for 200 yards then broke into a jog!
I was then able to keep this going and gradually increased the pace (I had my supporters along the Embankment so had to look good).
The last mile was surprisingly my fastest but I did not manage to smile when I crossed the finish time in a PB (by 30 seconds), as I was 11 mins slower than my target!
Looking back now it was a great event. The highs were the crowd, the camaraderie, the PB and Paula winning. The lows were the number of people collapsed/collapsing in the later stages, the wall (if that's what it was), the fact that I'll have to wait at least a year to do it again, and lastly no cheese and tomato sandwich in the goody bag!