I agree that the tunnel exit was better than anything I've experienced in a race before. Also, running along the waterfront on the Birkenhead side - wonderful views. There was a big barge going at around the same pace as us... loved it.
I'll add a +1 to those saying that it was a clearly well-organised event. The volunteers were really friendly and did their job flawlessly. Having the cadets or soldiers in Sefton Park was inspiring, too. The crowds just kept clapping and cheering... I couldn't fault the event, and will recommend to anyone & all.
Thanks all, and congrats to all racers this weekend - RJ, that sub-70 is inspiring stuff. Liverpool isn't the fastest course, you're right, evidenced by the winning times for the 2 years it's been run - 2:38 last year (windy, and a lot of the route through criss-crossing park paths), and 2:29 I think yesterday. Part of it may be elites not using up a marathon cycle on a new and untried route, but there's 1200 ft of ascent, which definitely affected the way I ran.
I agree in retrospect that my pacing was conservative. I'm usually a 'guts & glory' kind of guy, but seeing as though I blew up in my only other marathon at 18 miles, and only trained (P&D) up to 22 miles, I wanted to at least get a sub-3 out of this training cycle - and a PB that reflected my ability better. Race experience counts for a lot, and there wasn't going to be any way to substitute for that (although I've been trying to learn as much as I can from this thread!).
What I got right: carb loading went perfectly. Felt great throughout and 'charged' on the starting line. I took 6 or 7 gels, too, mostly in the first half. They didn't cause a problem, and I think probably helped, if only as placebo. I'd like to try with less next time.
Stuff to work on: Getting a better sense for non-critical muscle discomfort. My quads started 'talking to me' from mile 12, only slightly, and steadily more until 20, after which adrenaline/excitement distracted me from that. As I'd never felt that in training, I was trying to gauge as I got closer to the end whether it was 'significant pain' or not. My opinion now is that there are two things that might stop you in a marathon - 1) running out of fuel, and 2) muscle damage. So with more race experience, I hope I'll get to know how to push the second one closer to my limits.
I reckon shorter races will help with this, too. Marathon training is so often packaged as 'max miles vs damage limitation'. So, the Half with Brass Monkey for me next, Wardi!
[LENGTHY RACE REPORT AHEAD, WARNING!] Wanted to tell you guys tho.
Liverpool Marathon over - 2:55:34. That's a PB, from my previous (and only) best, 3:48. Chuffed to bits. Weather couldn't have been better - 5 degrees c at the start, rising to nearly 10, no wind. Well organised race, prompt start, and great support.
To start with, I was glad to feel out the pace I'd planned on (6:40-6:50), and did the first 4 miles up a slight slope feeling relaxed. Onto the waterfront, I felt even better, and caught onto a group that pushed the pace forward more (6:30-ish) - a little more than they should, I thought. I decided to ease back a little from them, but didn't get too far behind. Descending into the Mersey tunnel, I started to feel the wear on my quads, so eased the pace going down and up, and made half in just under 1:28. Out into the sunlight, I felt like the concentration might be slipping - people started peeling off at this point - so I sped up a little (6:35ish), until the course's only hill, which I took pretty easy. Around 20 miles, I felt more wear on the quads, but comfortable elsewhere: it was my legs, not my 'engine' that would be the limiting factor. Each mile after that made me more confident, and I passed people steadily, and really opened up down the big hill near the finish, to do the last mile as my fastest (6:11). The experience was amazing - and makes me want to see what I can do next time, with the added confidence and feedback from this training cycle.
Negative split!! Here's to more of those. Very fun.
Cheers to all for best wishes and good advice!! Do I get to learn the secret handshake now?