Ram - Thanks for the thought about a PB by accident. A great idea, but too much improvement required!
NE - I suspect one jelly baby per mile is more than most runners could manage. In any case, as others have said, don't try anything new on race day!
FG - Do you wash your running kit after every run?
Sister - Chester worked out I'd finished the course, but I'm not sure all those on the list of finishers had run the whole course. Also, London's a great experience, but in my opinion not a good place to try for a PB, unless you're very fast.
LFR - At 3:40 London's hard to run a PB as there are so many runners. All the best!
acp - Thanks for the report and well done for keeping going. Well done also on your PB! I'm not sure I'm the best to advise, because I started running rather older than most, and also I've given up racing hard, though not running races, and I really enjoyed Brighton 2 days ago. Anyway here goes:
(1) Maybe you're just too nervous? Some of your symptoms suggest that. I don't know how to help with that, I'm afraid. We all get nerves and it's common to feel terrible for at least some of the time in the last few days before a big race, but most people feel fine once they've started running. That said feeling ill towards the end of a marathon is not that unusual, so don't beat yourself up too much about a bit of that. In your case having a longer absence from normal from your children may not have helped.
(2) It was a HOT DAY!! You have not trained in hot weather! No wonder you felt ill! I suspect many would have felt just as bad as you did by the end. I don't like sun cream (hence my earlier comments about sunburn) but even I would have put loads on before running in Paris in that temperature on a hot sunny day.
(3) Obviously comment 2 is specific to Paris 2015. I don't know the facts of your other races, but if they were marathons, its very common to slow down as the race goes on even with the best of training and slow start. Spring marathons are worst, I suspect, as the training is done in cold weather but the race day can be quite warm as yours was.
(3) My best marathons have mainly been in the Autumn and if you haven't already tried one, I'd suggest that.
(4) I get pins and needles or numbness in my arms (not my hands), though not often. We're all different, but I treat that symptom as my body telling me I'm overdoing it, so I slow down.
(5) Be realistic. You've beaten your PB by 9 minutes!! You should be delighted. One can make huge improvements, many on this thread have. However I think it's probably sensible to try to train for improvements of 5-10 minutes in a marathon PB at a time.
Wenty/ Rachel - Thanks for the race reports, always good to read race reports, the longer the better!
For those who aren't experienced marathon runners can I note one thing that worked for me at Brighton, and one which didn't.
The thing which worked was eating more during the race than ever before and walking through the drinks stations to make sure I drank the water rather than spill it. I eat shot bloks and ate 6 and a half in the race, basically one every three miles, until the last, of which I spat out half. I drank with and after every shot blok and also drank at 2-3 other drinks stations. Whilst this did slow me down by probably 3-4 minutes in total I am pretty confident I would not have managed a negative split without all this eating and drinking.
The think to watch out for is sunburn(!). After my first marathon (Brighton 2011) the worst pain I had in the next day or two was sunburn. Since then I've made a point of running quite a bit in the sun before long races, and did so this Spring despite the rather cold weather. It wasn't enough, however, and yet again my shoulders and upper back are itchy.
Oddly I don't remember a chapter in P&D on sunburn!