My 2005 London Marathon

How was it for you? - Quotes and pictures from London 05


Posted: 27 April 2005

4:00 TO 5:00 (Page 11) Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Tefal Elvis, 4:06

This year's London Marathon was my first 26.2-mile race of any kind, and I was running specifically to raise money for Tommy's, the baby charity.

All my training went fairly well, only interrupted by a two-week break due to the nasty 'flu bug in February. I decided to use the sub-3:30 Runner's World schedule to a fashion and it worked well for me. With some more help from my local club, Winchester & District AC, I put some good training sessions. The RW emails were good to get, too.

The first 12 miles went like clockwork, I was feeling good and I didn't feel as though I was putting a lot of effort in. Then at around 14 miles I started to get cramp in my right thigh joined shortly afterwards by my left; a bit of a shock as I haven't had any problems with this in the past, particularly on my long training runs of 19-22 miles. My plan of a 3:30 finish swiftly disappeared to be replaced by a "just finish the race" as the cramps were increasing in length and frequency. So my finish of 4:06, I feel, was an achievement.

Best moment: seeing my friends and family all through the Docklands. I was feeling low and seeing them was just what I needed, especially a kiss and hug from my wife, Beth.

Worst moment: Getting leg cramps at 14 miles.

Biggest surprise: Everyone shouting my name. Note to everyone else: write your name on your vest. You won't be short of supporters!

Most memorable moment: Being shouted at by a Scottish runner to let me know that friends were shouting and waiving at me. "What are you doin' Alan, are you daydreamin' man? There are people shoutin' for you!"

What would I do differently: I have no idea. Maybe not be too serious, try and enjoy it more and maybe the miles will go by better and hopefully faster.

I can't believe how seamless the organisation is (a bit of a blip at the finish - very busy and jammed). Any worries I had about getting there, loos, baggage, start, etc were just blown away. Logistical problems - what problems! I would say this is the best event that I have been involved in, absolutely fantastic. year.

Nobes, 4:08

Feeling rough at mile 21...

My first marathon was a fantastic experience, surrounded by thousands of other like-minded runners after months of training alone on the streets.

I loved the virtually uninterrupted applause around the course and the generosity of the general public. I was humbled by seeing collapsed runners being attended to by the St John Ambulance teams, runners of all ages and abilities, and of course the stories just emerging of those who took 19 hours+ to complete the course on prosthetic limbs.

To be in a race surrounded by these people as well as world champions and record holders is quite awe inspiring.

Jackie Bowles, 4:12

Like many people, I'd talked about doing the London Marathon for years. I'd spectated, being inspired by all of the runners for having the strength, discipline and motivation to take on this goal. And at last I was really doing it - I was one of them!

Best and most memorable moments:

  • Running past a tortoise who was being interviewed and then waving at the TV cameras thinking I might be spotted by friends at home. Yeah, right.
  • Seeing my friends and family at 21 and 24 miles and knowing I was looking strong.
  • Sprinting up Birdcage Walk knowing I was going to make it. Having strangers rooting for me, hearing my name shouted multiple times was a terrific buzz, and made me feel like a world class athlete - not the average 4.12-er I actually was!
  • Managing to avoid hitting the wall or going through any bad patches. What a relief I'd got the pacing and nutrition (almost) right.

Worst moments:

  • At around the seven-mile mark, when we heard people shouting that there was an ambulance trying to get through. I thought they mean competitors were running in an ambulance costume and jumped onto the pavement. But a real vehicle came bombing through the runners. It stopped right beside me. On the ground was a man already being given heart massage. It was incredibly sad.
  • Getting from the finish to the repatriation area - 40 minutes of sheer hell. Being hemmed in by near stationary crowds was claustrophobic and not what I needed after running 26.2 miles. My kit bag seemed twice the weight pre-race!

Great breakthrough:

  • The next day I felt like I could achieve anything - sail round the world, become prime minister or perform brain surgery on a cat. My first marathon produced a tremendous rush of confidence I had never felt in my life before. It's bizarre when you think around 36,000 were running with me but it was the most powerful and addictive feeling I've ever experienced.

What I would do differently:

  • Start in a pen nearer the front, somehow.
  • And start quicker - I was so obsessed with not starting off too fast and hitting the wall that I ran too slowly earlier on and couldn't make the time up. I was running nine- and 10-minute miles instead of the 8:46 pace I had trained for. I could cope with Scooby Doo running in front of me but when two bananas sped past that really hurt.

The keys to my success:

  • I went on a marathon training camp in February and the words 'believe in your training' were rattling through my head the whole race. I really did go into FLM knowing I could do it, and could run it strongly. I never thought I wouldn't finish. It wasn't an option. My only bugbear is the time I got.
  • Proper training. If I was going to run a marathon I was going to do it properly. And I did thanks to support from my coach and running friends. Ray my running coach who gave me a kick up the backside to start my training after the Christmas excesses and guided me through the whole training programme.
  • Respecting the distance. Speaks for itself but many underestimate it. Do those 20-mile training runs and taper properly. After racing the Finchley 20 in under 2:52 as part of my training - with a cold - I felt terrible. The weather was freezing and there were hills, little crowd support and four laps of the same route. I couldn't stop shivering after the race and ended up in bed for a week with a bad virus. FLM was actually easier! I'm a great believer in putting yourself through something horrendous in order to make the other goal seem easier.

  • Large gulps of Lucozade Sport every mile, and jelly babies from 16 miles onwards
  • Running slowly for the first 20 miles then bombing the rest. But be aware just how slow you are going compared to your race plan.

Something I wish I knew beforehand:

  • I expected the first few miles to be slow but underestimated just how much time I would lose. I had anticipated that the crowds would thin out but they didn't seem to at all.

My three goals were to achieve 3:50, finish strongly and to run the whole thing without hitting the wall. Two out of three ain't bad. New York, anyone?

Ian Bailey, 4:43

The day arrived, and what a brilliant morning! There was bright, spring sunshine bursting through the windows at 6am when the alarms went off.

My training hadn't been textbook, despite having all the books and magazines and emails from Runner's World. I had put a good chunk of mileage in, mostly by running the 7.5 miles from work to home two or three times a week, but I hadn't gone 'long' as recommended, and some of the races I'd planned along the way had been scuppered by bad weather.

On the day, the walk up from the station to the common was inspiring. There were lots of people making their way calmly to the start. Coffee shops were offering breakfasts and the day was warming up. There was a carnival atmosphere, with hot air balloons and a PA system playing music and chat. I decided I ought to queue up for a toilet, which took up 45 of my 60 minutes, but was well worth it.

If you haven't run in a mass-participation event before it's hard to describe what it feels like. The pace is slow to start, but that's not a bad thing with 26.2 miles to go. There wasn't much overtaking, everyone seemed to just go with the flow at about 11 minutes per mile, and the weather and the spectacle was amazing. It would have been hard to carry, but I regret not taking a small camera with me.

Slowly, the field started to spread out and the pace crept up to between nine and 10-minute mile pace. It was hot and sunny, but with no drinks station until mile three I was glad of my bladder-pack. The crowds were small and spread out to start with, but began to fill out as we neared Woolwich.

I made good progress and soon was approaching the halfway stage. Someone phoned and informed us that Paula Radcliffe had just finished in 2:17 (she did set off earlier than us, but not that much earlier!)

Around Surrey Quays I saw a woman in tears being helped by a St John's Ambulance volunteer. It reminded me that despite the party atmosphere we were in the middle of an endurance event and finishing was not a given. I ripped off one of the energy gels I had strapped to my backpack and decided to have one every hour, whether I wanted it or not.

Just before the bridge I called Al to let her know I would be there in about 10 minutes, but there was no answer. The approach to Tower Bridge was awesome. I spent most of it looking for familiar faces in the crowd, but with no luck. I was a bit deflated, but also relieved I was near the halfway point in a reasonable time, around the two hour mark.

The right turn towards the Isle of Dogs brought a mixture of emotions. The course doubles back on itself here and we saw sub-three runners coming the other way with only six miles to go, which was a bit depressing. In about another hour and half I would be there, watching some of the fun runners in the same place dodging the clean-up crews and road sweepers.

Time started to go more slowly from here, but I made it through to mile 18 before taking a stop - my furthest run ever.

It wasn't just me. Lots of people were walking now, but being passed by so many was a bit galling. And the more stops I had, the more difficult it was to start running again. My jokes about running like Private Godfrey in Dad's Army were coming true. Although the last few miles seemed to be taking for ever and I really had to grit my teeth, the Tower, Embankment and finally Big Ben slowly came into view.

My legs were just not responding at all, but I decided I was going to run the last mile whatever, and I stumbled into a run, which I managed to keep up until the finish. That last half-mile into the Mall seemed to go on forever, but I finished in a reasonable 4:43.

I'm not sure how I felt at that precise moment. I was very pleased to have finished, although a bit disappointed by the time. All I wanted to do now was meet up with Al. I called her as I was having my timing chip removed, picked up my goodie bag and kit bag and tried to fight my way through the crowds at the end of the Mall to Admiralty Arch. We finally met up, took some more photos, and then set off for Charing Cross and a train home.

It looks like I will have raised something like £700 towards a new wheelchair for Addie, my friend's child, which is great news. I am dead chuffed to have done my first marathon, but I think I could do it a bit faster with proper training, so this will not be the one and only one I do. The Kent Coastal Marathon is taking place in Margate on the 4th September. I booked a place on Tuesday. Bring it on.

Caro, 4:58:42

Best moment of the race was being able to stop off at my house at mile 14 to say hi to my folks and use their toilet facilities (well we can't all do a Paula!), experiencing the luxury of running water and loo roll again without the queues.

I beat my time of last year by half an hour - and behind only 25,300 other runners, which isn't bad as I suffered a fractured spine 10 months ago and had titanium rods put in my back... which gives rise to the best surprise of all: no blisters, no aches, no pains and I was cycling to work the next day in time for an 8.30am start. The only thing is, that means I should have run much, much faster......

Thanks to everyone who supported me and the other 35,000 runners. But a special thank you should go to the orthopaedic team at the Royal London for all their fantastic work, without whom I wouldn't be walking again, let alone running marathons.

Heather, 4:19:21

Brilliant day!

.... Still running at 18 miles and on target to beat a 'Good for Age' time

.... Realising at 24 miles that a 'Good for Age' time is slipping away and running through treacle.

It was my ninth London Marathon and only one minute outside my PB.

Receiving the weekly RW Training Plan by email really helped me focus on what I should be doing that week. I did miss one long run so that is perhaps where my lost time went.

Jane Adlum, 4:28

I had a really great day - last year was such a slog due to injury that I just set out to enjoy this year's race - and enjoy it I did! Singing, clapping and cheering for at least 20 of the miles and finishing with a smile on my face. I finished in 4:28, just inside my target time, and was thrilled to bits.

So many high points in the whole day - my sister sending me a text in the evening that said, "What have you done today to make me feel proud?" (I filled up with tears)... the old guy I met in the last mile who told me to keep smiling so I'd look good for the finish... my husband telling how well I'd done.

No real low points apart from seeing those at the roadside obviously suffering from heat, cramps and general exhaustion.

A super high point has been my sister and husband agreeing to work together towards the 2006 race. I'll sit it out next year and spectate!

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