Disastrous London Marathon

My race plan fell to pieces, i need to know i'm not the only one.

21 to 36 of 36 messages
23/04/2013 at 10:37

I think endurance/distance events can be a learning curve for both  your mind and your body.  The more long stuff you do, the more you are likely to think 'only 6 miles to go, come on, i can do this' rather than 'omg, it's another 6 miles' and i think your body gets used to racing for a long time also.

To answer the OP's question, if you put a positive spin on it, you got a massive PB and you had to spend 20 mins resting.  Like others have said, next time you wont need that 20 mins.

We also all need to accept that sometimes our body has good days and sometimes not.  You have to hope that you wake up on race day on a good day.

Looks like you need to find another marathon to enter

23/04/2013 at 11:06

I personally never really think about 20 miles + 6.2 miles.

I tend to think of "once I get past 16.2 miles, mileage wise, it's all single figures from there on which is pretty much a medium length training run".

Long run wise, haven't done any in a couple of years.  Used to run 18-22 milers every weekend but then dropped back to maybe 4-5 x 8-10 milers a week (35-45 miles generally with no tapering) and started to improve (although I'm inconsistent but mainly state of mind).
Before my last marathon at Loch Ness, I'd run Moray 4 weeks before and got a 3h35:30 PB there and it was fairly comfortable.  3 days before Loch Ness, I went out for a run in the evening and ran 10 miles in sub-1h09 which was one of my fastest times.  Then an easy hilly marathon - could have been 5 mins or so faster but stopped for the toilet at 23.xx miles (should have held on as I wasn't that desperate).  Ran that on a mouthful or two of an Innocent smoothie at 5:50am, "half a Go Ahead bar before the race (9:50am) and a couple of mouthfuls of water after my toilet stop)

Pace makers do help me a lot to be honest.  During Loch Ness, I tailed a girl for a large part of the race who was running at my comfort pace.  Moray had me chatting to some people whilst running along at a good pace as well.

London is too variable what with people weaving in and out of outs, shoving you aside, constantly hitting people doing 12min/mile pace etc.  I find that difficult to run in as I can't get a steady pace sorted out and constantly changing doesn't help.


23/04/2013 at 11:07

I had a similar race to many here at London on Sunday, good first half, then struggled from about 15 miles.  I finished just behind you in 4:23, which I am pleased with as it was my first marathon, but at the back of my mind I know I could have done better.

What is keeping a smile on my face is the fact that we beat Iwan Thomas and Kelly Sotherton, both Olympic athletes, and both who also found it a struggle. I was walking behind Iwan for some of the race, and could see that he found it tough.

I hope that helps you come to terms with your time. Well done, you will come back stronger.


23/04/2013 at 11:32

Personally I don't think any of us really had a disastrous day.

We all finished and that's the most important thing.
Sure there are disappointments where we didn't run as fast as we should have, got injured or felt bad, spent 5 years of entering the ballot to do nothing spectacular at the end of it etc but as said, we crossed that line along with 1000s of others of all abilities.


23/04/2013 at 11:58

You need the occassional disaster to properly appreciate the triumphs.

Learn from it. If there are things you can control and do better next time, then do it, If there were things outside of your control, accept it and move on.

23/04/2013 at 13:26

Michael, I know how you feel and although you get all the "well dones" etc, it doesn't help! I was just plain stupid though, London was my 2nd Marathon, went off at sub 330 pace (was aiming for 330 - 345) but was far too fast and did the usual mistake of trying to make up lost ground at the start. All my training has been done at around 0 - 5  degrees so I should have straight away readjusted my goals at the start due to the heat but I was feeling confident, even though I had missed a few weeks of training due to illness.

Wheels came off around mile 13 / 14 when I was desparate for the toilet and couldn;t get out anywhere, by the time I saw the loos I was in a bit of pain. Got out and started running again then leg cramped up and I knew I was in trouble. Ran walked till the end and hated every minute of all the well meant encouragement as I knew I had fecked it for myself and was giving myself real abuse all the way round - sorry kids! Got in at 4 hrs 7 minutes, promptly collapsed and was wonderfully treated by the medical staff on hand who managed to get me back on my feet after a 20 minute stay in the white tents, I did manage a laugh when I fell out of the wheelchair though when I hit a bump on the way to the tent as it was just so surreal.

Lessons learnt again though (thought i would have learned from the first one!) but now they're really learnt and I just think it takes a few Marathons to learn and understand all the pitfalls the Marathon gives you. As everyone else says, you put it down to experience. I now need to readjust my goals to go for more sensible target for next one next year. So yes, I feel exactly like you, totally gutted but taking it all on board for next year when I do it again! Good luck! PS - I have a 1/2 in a month so determined to smash that PB to make me feel better about things!

23/04/2013 at 15:10

Thanks everyone, this is what i needed to hear. I have too many people around who struggle to understand the disappointment of not achieving your goal for a race.

Obviously i'm not the only person who had a bad race, but it's nice to hear others have had days like mine and come back stronger. Instills a little more hope in me.

So, i've signed up for another race. Kent Roadrunner Marathon. Probably not too glamorous, but may be what i need to build my confidence back up.

23/04/2013 at 15:22

MT - I did the Kent Roadrunner last year as i was supposed to do Edinburgh and got a stomach bug a few days before so had to pull out.  I did the KRR as it still had places and I wanted to get something out of my training.

In many ways, it's a great race.  There is no congestion and there is a nice feel to the race.  The organisers seem to go out of their way to make sure it's good for everyone.  The course didnt suit me as it does have a hill on it, it's not huge but it does start to hurt.  I was glad I printed off one of the race organisers pace bands as my garmin measured .5 mile too far which I guess means that i made a bad job of taking the racing line (there are lots of corners).  Good luck.

24/04/2013 at 16:01

Michael, I understand your disappointment but you should still be really proud. That's a time I could only dream of. None of us really know how we are going to perform on the day.

Last year I was doing a 10k double lap race. I started off and felt so ill that half way I was about to give up. My team mate kept me going but at the end I was crying so much I just couldn't stop myself. I honestly don't know what had gone wrong but a couple of weeks later I managed another 10k and flew round. I do a lot of league races for a local team and every now and again I have a bad one. Don't let it get to you, I think you did great. Took me 5.43 to get round

24/04/2013 at 17:39

Michael, just about everyone at my running club had a fantastic day, beating their targets, setting PBs and raving about what a great event it was. I, by contrast, had a terrible time after halfway, my hamstrings tightening up at about 17 miles, reducing me to a walk/run thingy by 20 miles. 20-24 miles is a blur, and I was so zoned in on myself I missed 11 members of my extended family screaming at me at about 23 miles. I think I was delirious, but recovered just enough to jog the last two miles and come in at 4hrs06. I'd adapted a 3hr30 training plan for a more realistic 3hrs40, but the last four weeks or so were disrupted by injury. I'd run 20 miles twice in well under three hours, however, so I felt I could still come in well under 4 hours. I'm not quite sure what happened. I didn't go off too fast, and my halfway time was a manageable 1hr50 or so. I got done in around Docklands. Some people mentioned the heat, but I didn't really notice it to be honest. It was either just one of those days or maybe, at 50 years old and with only two marathons behind me, I was being unrealistic about my time. I DID manage 3hrs46 in Abingdon last year, so I don't feel it was. It feels like a failure and that feeling will take some time to wear off, though I know I'm being unfair on myself. I was still only a third of the way down the field, so I don't feel too bad. Marathons and me just don't hit it off. Shit happens.

cougie    pirate
24/04/2013 at 17:50
Peter - if you ran 20 miles twice in well under three hours then you'd raced those runs. SLOW it down. Don't go into the race leaving your best times out there in training.
24/04/2013 at 19:04
My first too and I tore up my 3:45 pace wrist band in disgust and did the walk of shame for the last 6 miles head down. I feel that because I didn't run all the way I failed the marathon and there are threads elsewhere here that will agree. Having friends, family and people at work telling me I did well to do it in 4:24 and they could not have done 1 mile and at least I finished does not help. I entered to run. Failed to do enough training outdoors because of the cold weather and long runs on treadmills are not the same thing. My quads just stopped firing. Totally gutted. The only thing is that I can hopefully learn from it. So yeah you have to have been there to understand and there were a fair few of us looking like we had only evolved into bipeds that morning.
25/04/2013 at 20:30

Hi Michael,


I’ve done some analysis I thought you might be interested in. I downloaded the first 10,000 finishers of VLM 2013 into a spread sheet, that’s everyone under 3:56. I am meaning to do the whole 35,000, but at the moment I haven’t had time and even with 10,000 records the spreadsheet starts to get unwieldy.


Only 7.2% of those first 10,000 record a negative split, the 92.8% record a positive split, i.e second half is slower than the first half. This is as you would expect, given the sheer distance and also the common mistake everyone makes of going off too fast, out of excitement or because they feel good in the early stages. On average people ran their second half 9% slower than the first half, if I have picked the right result for you, you ran your second half 28% slower but of course that includes the period where you had to stop! Even though it was my first marathon I had a good training build up, and an encouraging 20 miler 3 weeks ago so I thought I could go for 3hrs, but I crashed and burned and came home in 3:19, with a 21% slower second half. What I can’t tease out are the stats specifically for first time marathoners, because my bet is that the average positive split would be well above the 9% recorded by the first 10,000 finishers.


But for me that’s the beauty of it, and I can see why people get hooked on marathon running. I’m already plotting what I’ll do differently for my next one in September and what I’m going to change to improve my performance. There are so many variables you need to get right both in training and on the big day, that to run a perfect race on your first attempt becomes nigh on impossible.  So get yourself signed up for another one!

25/04/2013 at 21:29
That's interesting stats. It's got me thinking about my next marathon, can anyone recommend another good marathon which is close to London but not too hilly?
26/04/2013 at 21:42

Some  interesting and very familiar tales there.

Last year 3 weeks before VLM, and after finally getting  a place, I had to pull out injured.

A disappointing time is waaaay better than not being able to run at all.  Chin up fella - its all experience


28/04/2013 at 17:58

Well I would remind you of what you achieved.  You might be disappointed but i think what you achieved is awe inspiring. I am revving up to running my first marathon in a month and the fact that you puked AND finished faster than last time? Wake up, celebrate your strength and be proud

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