London was tough. It is a crowded race and it was also very hot.
We went to the fa cup semi final on Saturday and the least said about that the better! We survived our trip to Wembley and I got a relatively good sleep the night before the race.
By mile two I was thinking that things were not going to go to plan. The crowds at the beginning were huge and the progress slow. I am used to feeling sluggish for the first 3-4 miles of a long distance run so I wasn’t too worried yet. I felt my goal 0f 3:45-3:50 was still on at this point, but knew that it would take an increase of tempo to get this target on track.
By mile six the crowds hadn’t thinned and although I had stepped up the pace I knew that all the ‘hold ups’ by slower runners was going to prevent me getting into a decent rhythm.
My Garmin GPS watch went on the blink at mile 8 and I found it quite difficult to pace myself for the next couple of miles. Nonetheless, by mile 10 I knew I was feeling in fairly good shape but that the morning cloud cover was beginning to evaporate and the sun was just waiting to attack. I was on track for a 3hrs45 & feeling good, but only just. Hard work was around the corner and I knew that I was not going to keep the pace steady for another 16 miles. I decided to adjust my goal down to 3.55 and slack off a little, keeping something in the tank for the dreaded miles 21-26.2!
With my Garmin down and all the mile marker clocks reading the marathon time as opposed to my ‘chip’ time (i.e. the time from when I actually crossed the start line) I never really knew how long I had been running. It took me a while to reach the start line, but was it 3mins or 5mins? I didn’t know and this disorientated my timing a little.
However, I did know that my half marathon time was perfect, under normal circumstances to get a 3:55 finish (it transpires it was 1:56), but in my heart and as the mid-day sun started to really effect me I knew that 4hrs would even be tough now!
At mile 18 the heat was giving me grave doubts. My legs were getting sore and a stop for a pee (getting through crowds, qeueing for cubicle, peeing, getting back through crowd and joing the race) cost me perhaps 3-4mins.
At mile 21 I was really feeling it. How on earth was I going to do another 5 miles? The doubts turned to misery as the 3.55 pacer crept up and passed me at this point. My heart started to sink, the sun became more intense and the ol’ legs were aching.
Determination and nothing else took me through to mile 23. I didn’t care about the crowds (although their efforts at support were terrific), I was too sore & tired. At mile 23 I realised that I had plodded through a couple of miles without dropping off the pace too much and I started to feel able again.
I tried to lift the pace but couldn’t – though at least at this point I knew I could see it through. The miles are very very long at this point.
From the 800 metre countdown I lifted the pace and was determined to finish the race totally ‘spent’ – no fear there! I crossed the line and didn’t know my chip time. All I knew was that it was a few mins or so faster than 4:13. My time was 4:09 and I was extremely satisfied given the conditions.
Time to prepare for the second leg…