My plan was quite simple 38 mins for each 5 miles – about 7:35 pace, which would bring me in around 3:19/3:20. I decided not to push it in case my teeth problems had taken too much out of me. Managed to stick to my target pace immediately – and the first 5 miles were a breeze. Although it was sunny, there was a lot of shade in the early part of the race and I didn’t feel too hot. I had five gels on me and was going to take one with water every 5 miles supplemented by Lucozade in between.
By Cutty Sark I notice that all the early fast starters were coming back to me as I started overtaking people. But it wasn’t too busy, so didn’t need to do any dodging to speak of. By the time we hit Surrey Quays it was getting a little hotter and I thought my pace was dropping fractionally so a took another gel and pushed on. First two 5 mile splits were fractionally over 38 mins, so on target, but looking like a 3:20 run.
Over Tower Bridge looking for one of my mates – no chance, too many people. On the other side of the bridge I saw Minni who looked like she had stopped and was talking to a marshal, but I was already gone past her. Last time I did London I remembered it started to get hard just as I entered the Isle of dogs after the tunnel. But this time it was much more controlled and I pushed on, waiting for the expected wall at around 18 miles.
It duly arrived on South Quay, which is where my club was marshalling and doing the crossing which gave me a big boost. But I could feel the energy system switch and it was definitely feeling harder. I just said to myself that even the fastest runners suffer and counted to 100 the lovely Paula does. And my god it worked perfectly. All I needed to do was count and the miles would take care of themselves.
The last 9 miles were done in this zone of counting and keeping an eye on the pace, which was pretty much on target the whole way. Once I hit 23 miles I knew that a PB was in the bag, and that I just needed to hold this pace to hit 3:20. I started to get slight indications of cramp in the last 6 miles in my calves but it never developed into anything serious. Saw the family at 24.5 miles and I was feeling good. Rounding the Mall and seeing that I would make 3:20 comfortably was excellent and a put in a strong push for the line.
I passed 544 runners in the last 7.5K and only 4 passed me. Can’t complain with that at all. Tooth pain was barely noticeable on the run. I did however end up with a spectacular black toenail that I hardly felt on the run. Saw AA at the finish, but no-one else, and didn’t make it to Chandos because I was sitting in a camp chair outside the Harp in the sunshine with a beer.
I have already signed up for Brighton next year and hope to have a crack at the 3:15 target there. I feel confident of getting there next year as long as I can bring my HM time to under 1:30. Anyway how long was that report! Too long!
Right – here’s my race report. A bit self-indulgent, but hey! As KFC said, I wasn’t planning a spring marathon – I wanted to give an autumn marathon this year to avoid winter training. But once I got a club place in the lottery there was no question I was going to go for it. I have only done the London Marathon once before and I loved it. This time I loved it even more – the crowd was amazing – noticeably bigger than 3 years ago.
Training started with what seemed like a disaster as I sprained my ankle high up in the Atlas mountains on a cycling holiday in December. But luckily diligent strapping, icing and cycling seemed to help it recover remarkably quickly and I only missed around a week of training.
I was going to try a tri-flavoured plan for the marathon buildup – but missing the early part of training meant I chose the P&D up to 55 12 week plan and followed it pretty closely, and didn’t miss many sessions at all. I was too knackered from all the running to do much else apart from gym work, so swimming and cycling took a back seat for 3 months.
So with training having gone well and having decided a target based on recent race results of 3:19, race week came. Disaster struck on Thursday when an bubbling under tooth infection escalated into screaming pain on Thursday.
I had already been to the dentist for this earlier and was on the waiting list for the dental hospital to sort it out, so all I had was antibiotics and painkillers. Although it seemed to initially clear up, it came back with a vengeance on Saturday which made carb loading tricky and I could hardly sleep on Sat night. I was very close to pulling out!
Thankfully I woke up in the morning, just took more painkillers and just decided to try and ride it out. My legs were fine, so I just needed to ignore the pain in my head and get moving. Took the club coach down to the start and got chilled out with a club mate in the red start for ages before getting into pen 2 – which was just behind the FGFA lot. Couldn’t have asked for a better place. I actually went to the back of that pen, and suffered hardly any problems with race congestion – unlike Paris last year which was a nightmare for that.