So this was my redemption run after an injury stopped play at London 2011 and a period of general activity following. Training had gone reasonably well but I started from a low fitness base and carrying a bit of excess weight so it took a while for the speed to return.
The main aim at the start of the campaign was to run 3:15. Most of the training and racing pointed to a 3:05/3:10 target time but a couple of sessions in the last few weeks suggested I was getting close to the speed I had when I ran the 2:58 PB in 2010. Last Wednesday's MP test on the track gave me c. 6:40 Garmin for a HR of 165-170 which is marathon effort. Combined with the ideal conditions, this convinced me to set off at a tight Sub 3:00 pace and see how it went for the first 10 miles and then reassess.
The start was a bit congested for the first mile despite being at the back of Pen 1 but we reached the first mile marker in c. 6:50. The pace felt steady and the breathing relaxed but the HR was creeping up to 175. For previous marathons anything over 170 was red line territory so this was worrying. However, I decided to carry on and see how the HR behaved. The 5 miles marker came up at c. 34:10 - so still on 6:50 pace but the HR was also still at 175.
Miles 5-10 were a similar story although I had decided not to let the HR go above 175 (it reached 181 at one point when I was taking a gel which is 10K territory!) which meant the pace dropped a little. The 2:59 pacer came past at 7 miles but I decided to let them go ahead and keep running to HR.
At 12 miles, the pace was still under 7:00 m/m and the HR at 175 but the quads were beginning to hurt and slowing down seemed the sensible option.
Went through halfway in 1:31:52 but after 16 miles the pace was down to 7:30/7:40, I was getting passed by a lot of people and had starting counting miles!
Thoughts of stopping were frequent but I was determined to at least finish. The family were also strategically placed at the 22 mile point so there was no way I was going to walk before then. I hadn't given much thought to what I would need to achieve 3:15 if plan A got scuppered, but calculated that I should be able to cover the last 10K in no worse than 50 minutes.
After a cramp attack in the left hamstring at 20 miles, miles 21-23 were the slowest at c. 7:50 m/m pace. It was starting to get a bit tight on time but I then realised that if I didn't get Sub 3:15 today I may never run London again. Miles 24 and 25 came out at c. 7:20 which gave me about 11 minutes to cover the last mile and 385 yards. A steady pace to the end seemed the sensible option but I started to get cramp attacks from the Houses of Parliament onwards. The calfs and quads were taking turns to cramp up and each attack made me want to stop. Not good but somehow I managed to carry on running through the attacks. From 800m onwards it was starting to get comical and I was starting to calculate how far you can crawl in a minute but somehow I managed to keep going and cross the line in just under 3:13:55. Huge relief!
Quite happy with the result and enjoyed the day and particularly the crowds and atmosphere. A bit perplexed why the early pacing didn't work out but pleased to be able to tough it out from 16 mile onwards and secure the GFA.