London Marathon Review
I asked each of this year's LBAC London marathoners to give us a paragraph or two about their experience at one of the world's most iconic races. Their thoughts are all collated below.
My very first experience of the London marathon and the 26.2 miles of cheering spectators. The crowds were very intimidating but then again I don't think I've ran that far with a continual grin from people shouting "come on ham, you can do it ham, not far to go ham" – note to self, put nickname on new club vest. Running past six rhinos, a womble, Mickey Mouse, a light house, a camel (yes a camel), Bagpus, Andy Pandy (yes I'm that old!), batman 1, 2 and 3 and many more outfits that defied all reason for wearing such a costume for a marathon distance provided ample distraction along the hit London roads. Reaching Tower Bridge was a grand experience but seeing that finish arch that I've seen on television so many times was deeply satisfying.
On making my London debut I had 2 goals, which were to enjoy the occasion and not to start too fast. I found the first half of the race genuinely uplifting and despite the huge support I managed to avoid the urge to push too hard. Although I knew that the crowd was going to be big I was not prepared for the sheer noise that is generated pretty much for the entire length of the course. The highlight of the race for me was crossing Tower Bridge and at that point I had achieved both of my aims.
From that point onwards my competitive instinct kicked in and I began to calculate what I would need to do to get a PB, as I was feeling great. All that was required was to run a negative split by a few seconds. By 20 miles I had achieved the required pace, but expended all of my energy in doing so. The final quarter of the race was therefore a survival exercise, but I tried to make the most of the atmosphere as I dragged myself around the last few miles.
I am so pleased that I finally got the opportunity to run this race and I would recommend it to any runner looking for a truly uplifting experience.
Going in to London knowing I was running faster than I've ever run before was a huge confidence boost. Training had gone well, and having had a solid cross country season, PBs at the Watford Half and Sandy 10, and 20 mile training runs at sub 7.45 pace, I felt pretty sure that unless something bad happened (ie slipping on a water bottle!) I would beat my 3.36 PB from Amsterdam in 2011.
However in true Arien form it wasn't a PB I was after – nor a sub 3.30. My goal was 3.20, with a strategy to go off at 7.40s, sense check at 15, and increase speed at 18 to 7.30s. Realistic? I'd find out at 1.20pm!
Over the line I quickly got in to a steady pace, and clocked 7.30s for 15 or so miles. I'm pretty fastidious when it comes to pacing and so continuously tried to slow, but the miles just kept ticking by along with the next set of 7.30 minutes. I had great chats along the way with friends from MK and Dunstable, loved seeing all the LBAC support along the way, and my 5k splits were pretty even…who said London was a bad marathon for crowding?!
But I guess if marathon running was easy….well it simply wouldn't attract as many masochistic people as it does!
Between 18 and 21 I made the conscious decision not to look at my watch knowing Canary Wharf can play havoc to GPS. I was also approaching the 'business end' too, recently reading 20 miles is half way. 'Stay in the moment, stay in the moment'…advice from a Stuart Blofeld facebook post from his Mont Blanc run too kept running through my head…
And from 21 it's somewhat of a vague haze. I knew I had at least 40 minutes of running left to do, and just kept my fingers crossed it didn't turn in to longer! Enthusiastic encouragement from the Haylocks, Mark Haynes, Jim Miller from MMKAC, a flash of purple that I could only assume was Andy and Pete. I counted down from 1,000, chanted Erin's name, repeated over and over again 'stay in the moment, stay in the moment'. But OH….MY….GOD it hurt!
And finally, FINALLY! – 800m to go..600m..the bandit catchers in sight, thoughts of 'never again'. And then before you know it you're round the corner, not caring if the Queen is home…… And then the finish! – I even managed a sprint – just….desperate…to..get..it..over..with……………..!!!!
A PB – check.
By 10 minutes – check.
Sub 3.30 – check.
But not 3.20…
……So I guess there's always next time………….
Sunday 13th April saw me fulfilling a pretty much lifelong ambition! The chance of running the London marathon was one of the biggest reasons I started running, so I knew I needed to do it justice. I was also very keen on keeping my club record which was a mean feat with runners like Amy along side me.
I had bought a book called Advanced Marathoning which I had been sticking with its guidance religiously (the damn thing went everywhere with me) so I felt fairly relaxed at the start. The first 10k went by in a flash but as I looked at the speed on my watch I knew I kept going way too fast so early on. The atmosphere just gets to you and you just can't help yourself. But I knew I'd pay for it later.
As with last year’s Brighton Marathon at mile 16 I started to struggle and just making sure I didn't start walking was all I could think. Thoughts of a great time went out the window and I just didn't care anymore! At about mile 19 I thought to myself 'seriously I am never doing this again'! Then I saw ahead of me a man running with crutches, he was incredible and I thought if he can do it with an obvious disability I can do it. So I manned up and thought of the less fortunate people we were all running for in the shape of our charities.
Soon I was passing 22 miles and eventually the 1 mile to go mark. I managed to speed up at the last 800m. I was very pleased with my time of just under 3.18 but my dream of under 3.15 will have to wait……it was just too hot.
P.s special thanks goes to the guy who at the finish told me he had seen me and thought I looked fairly comfortable so decided to focus on me and stick with me…..until the end when he whizzed past and beat me by 30 seconds. Glad I could be of assistance (grrrrr!) 😉
Following my tactics at Sandy I started the first 10k having not warmed up on purpose of keeping the pace slow with the intention to speed up as I settled, it was good to see Andy and Pete m at Greenwich. At 7 miles though I was feeling drained so tucked into the first mini mars bar having taken on Lucozade at the 5 mile point. This seemed to pick me up and looking forward to seeing Mandy and the boys two miles later spurred me on. They missed me and I missed them (obviously going to fast) at nine, so when i saw Lynn and children it was a nice boost.
I started the race in the same pen as the 3.15 runner's world pace maker who set off at 3.10 pace that I sensibly held back from. I caught them up again at 15 miles having dropped the Buxton water bottle and the Gherkin! Knowing that my miles had been even paced this group had a cushion of 4mins accrued. Between this and 20 miles their pace slowed, normally hanging on at this stage of the marathon I did not recognise the route from 16-18 having high fived Stu Blofeld at the Lucozade stand at 15, I was off and running but frustrated by this narrow section getting past slowing runners as well as the discarded Lucozade bottles was hazardous which made me angry so I ran faster by 20 I was 5mins inside 3.15 but knowing too well what can happen in the last six as you dodge walkers that haven't moved to the sides! I kept going strong.
At 21, my missing family turned up, they hadn't just turned out to see Mo today! High 5's all round and 5 miles to do. The support of LBAC members over these closing miles was fantastic Uncle Pete and Co at 22, Adam at 23, Mark at 25 and team Inchley with 600 to go all raised my spirits to push on. Finishing in 3:07:39 the aim achieved of good for age with a bit more in case they change the criteria again this year. Looking forward to turning 50 and the extra 5 minutes next year. Thoroughly enjoyed the day makes all the hard work worthwhile, with little to no injuries except the shrapnel playing up ( Dave Adams) for the boxing day handicap!
After months of training, marathon day finally arrived. The forecast was for clear blue skies and cool temperatures, perfect running conditions. After forcing down a bowl of porridge at 5.10am I joined the LFR coach at the bottom of the High Street with fellow LBAC runners Nick and Gary. Arriving at the start area at about 8am we do the usual nervous pre marathon chatter and preparation to set us up for the run. At about 9.30 we threw our bags on to the lorry and join the start line crowds.
The first 8 or 9 miles went well; I was on time per mile and managed to spot several supporters in the crowd including my family at 9 miles. The crowds were much thicker than previous years; in several places they compressed the runners and I nearly collided with a few spectators. At about 10 miles I passed the 3 hour marker man, which I'd planned, and discovered there are far fewer runners in front of him and it felt like a completely different race. As I crossed tower bridge I was almost on my own and feeling pretty good as I headed towards the dead zone around Canary Wharf.
Maybe it's just me, as I work and run around the wharf a lot, but it’s my least favourite part of the course. I saw more and more supporters along the way though, it felt like a local run! I passed the LFR marshal point at 21 miles and waved at a few people, still feeling good, but a few hundred metres later I suddenly started to struggle. Just after 23 miles I had to walk… about 200 metres later I started running again but the damage had been done. I ran another mile then walked through the tunnel just before Embankment.
As I emerged from the tunnel I was determined to run the rest which I almost managed. I walked a little more but ran all mile 26, encouraged by Richard and Tim on Birdcage Walk, hobbling to the end in 3:03. I achieved a PB, but missed out on the coveted 2hrs time. Next time I will try harder!
Well I'm overjoyed to set a marathon PB but it wasn't a smooth ride by any means. I must have picked up some alien bacteria in the preceding 48 hours and this wasn't enjoyable at all to deal with so when I started to slow down at 10 miles and some toilets homed into view I made the sensible decision to get a load of my mind as it were! Fortunately, I didn't lose a lot of time in the process, felt a whole lot better for it and as a result was almost immediately back into race pace.
Despite this enforced pit stop, I reached half way in a respectable 1:27:17 with time in the bank if I wanted to go sub-3. I've been here before though but unlike some previous sub-3 attempts, I managed to reel off a consistent set of sub 7 minute miles fuelled by the excellent support around the course. Many thanks fellow LBAC-ers! So the end result was 2:56:11 a mere 9 seconds outside the club V45 marathon record which at first felt rather frustrating. However, I'm more than satisfied that I can still go sub-3 at the marathon and being so close to the club record is incentive enough to have another crack next year … probably … maybe … definitely!