I managed 2:54:39 – slightly disappointed but first marathon so respectable and at least I’m walking normally and have no problems with stairs today
My biggest concern prior to the race was getting a good start and being able to get into my running. My start was no problems – luckily I was in the front pen and started about 20 rows back from the Elite guys so it took me no time to cross the line and get into my running. A first mile in 6.28 was a good start, my second mile of 6.10 saw me at the sort of race pace I was hoping for.
Then mile 3…
I started feeling my left quad tighten up a little from the start but felt I could run through thinking it was only down to the cold. As I entered mile 3 it tightened up sufficiently to slow me down and I decided to stop and stretch. I started running again and then had to stop as it was too painful to run. My language was rather bad as I stretched (I apologised to the crowd near me). I felt gutted and was certain I would have to pull out. No public transport or St Johns Ambulance anywhere near prompted me to run on.
I started to think what to do. I had some gels and I knew water was available at 3 miles and Lucozade Sport at 5 miles. I felt the cramp had to be due to lack of minerals etc.. / dehydration in the leg and thus if I could get water and minerals in I’d be set. As I approached the 3 mile water I necked a gel and then got some water. Ran on abit, cramp again – stopped, stretched… lady in crowd told me Vitamin E was what I needed but unfortunately she didn’t have any to hand.
I ran on and things got a little better. Got to the Lucozade Sport stand, gussled a whole container of the stuff – quite unusual at that part of the race !! From there it started to improve.
I hit the 5 mile marker about 5 minutes down on my original plan and started to re-assess my race. I thought – there’s no reason I can’t get sub 3 hours still and that will guarantee me a place for next year. I started to increase the pace and was hitting miles at between 6.25 and 6.30 – slower than my planned pace but it felt really comfortable and I was passing people all the time which made for a real pleasure. I continued like this through halfway.
Tower Bridge was amazing – so many friends turned out to cheer – it was such a spur and certainly I will turn out in future to support anyone I know thats running (if I’m not running).
I hit halfway in 1.27 and my thoughts started to turn to perhaps sub 2.55 if I could even split it. I also wondered whether I could still sneak in under the top end of my target range – ie 2.50 – this would require a solid negative split so I picked up the pace and put in a 6.19 mile (the pace needed to duck under 2.50) – unfortunately increasing the pace to his level resulted in me feeling the quad again and I felt I’d not finish if I continued like that – so instead I continued to run within myself purely targetting sub 3.
As I got onto Embankment I started to really concentrate on sub 2.55 – I’d managed to maintain the pace well through docklands and maintaining sub 7min miles along embankment was all that was needed. As I entered the last mile I pushed a little and put in another sub 6.30 mile and got across the line in 2.54.39.
Considering the start I had I’ve gotta be happy with that. The cramp may have been a blessing in disguise as ultimately I got a respectable time, I ran within myself, spent most of the race passing people and today I can walk normally and can cope with stairs.
It was a totally fantastic experience. I’m determined to work out the mistakes in my final preparations (ie race morning preps) and learn from them. I already have plans to run it again next year. I now understand why people get hooked on running The London Marathon.