My tight right calf was soon joined by my left, and the rest of the race was really a battle to keep focused and to try to stretch them out as best I could between strides. When I hit 20 miles I started to focus on the end of the race, and I knew I only had 4 miles to go until I would see my family. Those were 4 tough miles, though, and when I emerged from the Blackfriars underpass and my supporters were nowhere in sight I felt really low and demoralised. They'd had to view from further along the course, so around 24.5 miles instead of 24, but when I finally got that cheer my spirits were instantly lifted and I knew I only had a couple of miles to go. The Embankment is always one of the highlights and as I passed some of the familiar sights of London - the Eye, Big Ben - it felt incredible to be a part of this amazing display of human endeavour and camaraderie. Events like this really do bring out the best in people and the crowd support was unbelievable. As I turned into The Mall and saw 600m to go I started to pick it up, and when I finally saw the line I knew if I gave it everything I could finish in my second-fastest marathon time, so I caned it to the line.
I didn't get the time I'd hoped for, but maybe I was unrealistic to think that 5 years after setting my PB in London I could set another on Sunday. I am 5 years older after all, although I do wonder whether if I hadn't switched off the autolap on my watch, and was getting proper feedback, I'd have been able to dig just a little bit deeper and go that little bit faster. I'm really pleased with my time, but more so at having held it together even when I realised I wasn't going to run the time I'd hoped for, and to be honest at just having kept going from 16 miles when my legs wanted to seize up on me!
I still haven't figured out the new thing (or even if it will let me in from this PC!) so thought I would post my VLM post-mortem here in the meantime. After all, it IS actually about running!
Firstly, I just want to say a huge thank you to all of you who have sponsored me, supported me and encouraged me (here and on FB) throughout this mad campaign. I am incredibly proud to be doing this for Breast Cancer Care and even more so to have raised over 50% more than my initial target through JustGiving. At the start the focus was on the marathon itself, but in recent weeks the fundraising has become really important to me and I'm delighted to have raised so much.
Marathon day dawned damp and drizzly but not the torrential rain that had been forecast all week. Leaving the house became somewhat stressful when, having woken hubby to drive me to the friend's house I was travelling in with, he was still fast asleep 15 minutes later - 10 minutes before we needed to leave the house! He then decided to get in the shower (WTF??!) and we finally left 5 minutes later than planned. The rest of the journey was uneventful and my friend and I arrived at the start with a good hour to spare. My friend was on the blue start and mine was red, so we said our farewells and I had a wander round to make sure I knew which was my baggage bus, where the starting pens were and so on. I decided to delay putting my kit bag on the bus as late as I could so I could keep my warm clothes on for as long as possible. It was really chilly and I had decided to run in shorts and t-shirt - it never crossed my mind that anything warmer might be required given the recent temperatures.
About 10 minutes before the start I entered the pen and immediately wished I'd done so sooner as the sheer volume of people made it feel considerably warmer than where I'd been waiting. There was the usual faffing and speeches, then a huge cheer as the race was officially started and we were off! I crossed the line 2 minutes from the gun so tried to remember to factor this in to my calculations round the course. I settled in to my planned pace - around 7:35 per mile - within the first mile and pressed the 'lap' button on my watch bang on mile 1. I was to regret turning off its autolap function (which I'd done because of signal loss round the course) as I seemed to run further than a mile each time between markers, probably due to the need to weave in and out of other runners so much. I was disappointed to go through the second mile at 7:47 pace - which it actually wasn't, it was the time taken to run from the mile 1 marker to the mile 2 marker, which showed as 1.04 miles on my watch. By mile 10-12 I had no clue of my actual pace and thought I had fallen seriously off. I figured at that point that a PB wasn't going to happen but just to keep running as hard as I could.
I crossed halfway about a minute adrift of my planned target, despite having reached 8 miles in an hour as planned. I think lack of focus thinking I was off PB pace was to blame. I was really enjoying the race at this point though - crossing Tower Bridge was emotional as always and the crowds were almost deafening. I think I got to about 16 miles before I finally truly accepted that a PB wasn't going to happen. This was my low point as my right calf started to tighten and I realised that the toes on my right foot were hurting a lot. I'd noticed in training that my right middle toe felt a bit bruised a few times but hadn't given it too much thought. Now the constant impact was having a major effect on that toe and the one next to it. I think I subconsciously adjusted my running style as a result of the painful toes and this led to the tight calf.
JG how many days do you work now, and how many extra would the extra hours give you? If your in-laws already do two days for you in the school holidays, you might only need to find cover for one extra day - or if spread over more than one day you might be able to compress the extra hours into one day in the holidays and then just use a day's leave each week to cover if needed and you can't find an alternative arrangement? I have to be quite creative about my hours sometimes but the bottom line is as long as the work gets done, my department is very accommodating. It's always worth asking even if your request is a bit unusual.