Last Sunday I ran my third marathon and second time in London, unlike the first time I ran in London, this year I was starting in the good for your age start line which meant getting over the line in less than two minutes and having a lot less people to run around and avoid. This advantage provides the opportunity to set a pace from the outset and focus on settling into a long 26 miles rhythm, although I want to be clear it was still quite a stressful experience with so many people around you all the time and I did find it a little aggressive. But I think this in large part was due to me staying with a 3.30 pacemaker and being around lots of other determined people.
So I was feeling good and determined to pace at 8minute miles and not shoot off to fast, I wanted to run under 3.35 because that is the Boston qualifier time, but my snowboarding holiday three weeks before the race had started to feel like a bad idea. I had gone away when I was at the peek of my fitness and come home to start the taper. I felt both physically and mentally like achieving under 3.35 was unrealistic. Despite this though I thought sticking with the 3.30 pacer at the beginning would force me to start on 8minute miles instead of 7.30 (which my long training splits seemed to be) and it would at least give me a chance to finish sub 3.40.
It was hot from the outset which was a little worrying but I knew I just needed to keep my fluids up, run in the shade when possible and not stress out about the heat (and choosing to wear all black). The first three miles went so fast and we were joining the other runners in no time, it sounds silly to write this as we know exactly how quickly the time went but for me but the first 14 miles seemed to fly by. It was a beautiful day, the crowds were amazing as always and I was anticipating the high of Tower Bridge and the hope of seeing friends at mile 13.
Despite missing my friends at mile 13 I was still feeling good, the noise at tower bridge is deafening and you feel like a superstar for 5 seconds as you run across, sun blaring and strangers shouting your name. As we settled into the highway the realisation that i was already halfway made me so happy, i had one headphone in up to this point and my phone was beeping as friends in my whatsapp group were arranging cheering spots, I decided to send them an update letting them know i was coming up to mile 14 and snap a quick selfie. I put my phone away and then came an almighty roar and I turned to my left in time to see Mo Farah flying past.
As mile 14 approached I still felt pretty strong, I was running alongside the pacemaker, drinking water and had my first gel. It was only after finishing my gel as mile 15 approached that it hit me how far there still was to go, despite it feeling like time was going fast the ability to actually clock the miles felt impossible. I tried not to think about the number 26 and focus on the number 16 – I was determined to try and stay at 8 minute miles.
From mile 19 I knew I had to concentrate on my race and not keep thinking about running with the 3.30 team I had surrounded myself with. It was becoming more stressful to run together as we moved around people. I put both my headphones and decided to focus on me. I had my watch and I knew that I was doing well, I just needed to stay focused. I was excited about seeing friends at mile 22 and mile 23 and knew exactly where to look. I set those as my goals, never the full 26 – that seemed to far.
As I went past mile 22 I didn’t see my friends, the pacemaker I had been running with was long gone, my iphone overheated so my music had gone and my mouth was clammy from gels. I wanted water but there wasn’t a stand for a while and I knew my next opportunity for a drink would be lucozade before the underpass which would only make me crave cold water more. But just as I thought my chance of sub 3.35 was over and I was losing my focus I saw my friends – that lift it gives you is beyond special and hard to explain. It just makes you so happy and as I turned back to the road after waving determined to see Pippa at mile 23 I also found a different 3.30 pacemaker.
I was hoping that he was a little further back because of the staggered pens and figured if I could do my last three miles with him I might still come in under 3.35. My watch had messed up a bit from the tunnel at mile 15 so was out my a few minutes so didn’t want to rely to heavily on this. I saw my running partner Pippa at mile 23 and despite being in so much pain i was determined and so happy I had seen everyone. Next it’s embankment, the thames, London eye and for the first time I thought about the number 26 and how close it was. As soon as I saw the 800 metre sign I knew I had made it, I just needed that last kick. I went for it, in my head I was sprinting, or at least giving it everything I had left.
I crossed the line and my watch said 3.32. I was so happy, I had beaten my Paris time, it was over and I ran a consistent race. My legs hurt like they had never hurt before – I had never ran that hard consistently before and my quads were feeling it. I hobbled through the finishers section trying to eat the apple from our bags, I knew I hadn’t eaten enough before the race and that it was important to eat now despite having no appetite. My phone was still overheated and not working but I could hear all my texts coming in and people trying to call but I couldn’t answer. I finally made it to my meeting point G just as my phone started working. My brother had been watching my race at home and text me to ask me if i was happy with my time. At this point I didn’t realise there was a tracker and so it was my brothers text that alerted me to my actual time of 3.30.46 !! I couldn’t believe I had done it. I had ran 3.30 and knocked 7 minutes off my last PB.
Next my long term sights are on Boston and short term Nikes We Own the Night, i’ve not ran a 10k for years so i’m keen to see what my time in a race is now. I also have the Hackney Half and I am looking to do a triathlon. At mile 22 I swore to myself never again and in terms of times i’m not sure what my goal is, I thought 3.30 was a long way off so now I am happy to set some faster half marathon times, and run some more races all around the world.