Posted: 25/04/2016 at 18:38
First I just want to say how awesome the Fast GFA start is. One Gear had told me about this before. Just as he said we were right next to the start line and got led out to the front by the marshals - I have to say I felt like a bit of a fraud but it made for an amazing start to the race.
The gun went and, despite having taken a position towards the rear, I was still over the line within a minute - wow!
So far so good but no sooner had I got going when bang, out of nowhere - a huge freakin' stitch! Couldn't believe it!
Breathe and relax, breathe and relax. It wasn't improving. I just tried to ignore it but I could feel myself starting to panic a bit. I’ve had these before and the only solution has been to stop for a few minutes and let it settle. I couldn’t stop now, I’d only just started!
The good thing was it wasn’t getting any worse so I just pushed on trying to focus on the amazing crowd and a guy dressed as Braveheart who kept shouting “FREEEEEDOM!” at the top of his voice every 30 seconds
Finally, after 2 miles the stitch finally began to subside and by mile 3 it was gone completely - such a massive relief!
Now attention turned to pace. I was using the Garmin on auto lap and looking at lap pace together with my average pace for the run. Aim was to keep to 6:48 (2:58 speed) for the first half and re-evaluate after halfway.
I think I more or less managed this. However, I noticed that the auto lap was starting to beep further and further away from each mile marker. I convinced myself that it wasn’t a big issue and that by following the blue line more closely I’d not make things any worse.
This is one huge advantage of setting off from the FGFA start - there is much more room. Certainly by the time you’re 6 miles into the race you can begin to follow the racing line quite easily. But of course you have to remember to follow it and looking back now I don’t think I did as good a job of this as I thought I had.
By the time we got to 15 miles my legs were starting to feel quite sore. This I wasn’t expecting. I don’t know if it was because of the increased pace (most long runs I’d done had been run slow for the first half at least) or some other reason. The good thing was I could feel there was still power there and I also had plenty of energy so no major concern.
It was much warmer than I expected it to be given the weather forecast. There was far more sunshine and although it was in and out when the gaps in the cloud came the sun felt very warm. Let's just say I had no second thoughts about using the on course showers!
This was the first time I’d gone for a pure gel nutritional strategy. No jelly babies this time. 5 SIS gels, two with caffeine. It seemed to be working well as I put the 3rd one in (a caffeine) at Mudchute.
Coming round the roundabout and into Canary Wharf between 18 and 19 was just brilliant. I think I did my fastest mile after that - 6:41. As I approached mile 20 I felt sore but strong and I dared to dream that sub 3 could happen. It was certainly a possibility but I then had another wobble. My left foot started to hurt quite badly.
I think my shin was cramping but I could feel it in the foot. I couldn’t believe it was happening at this stage in the race with just 10K to go. I tried to run on different parts of my foot to get some relief but it wasn’t working. I just couldn’t stop now!