A few years ago, I was lucky enough to use the club entry to get a race down at London Marathon. Since then, I have managed to wobble round in a “good for age” i.e. no bad for an auld yin qualifying time. Despite having an entry in for this year, I still hadn’t fully decided if I was going to head south until events in Mexico kinda took over and Friday night saw me heading down on the sleeper train towards London.
Thankfully the tragic events of last week in Boston didn’t seem to impact of the process of registration on the Saturday. Had a brief look round the expo before grabbing a 3:10 pace band from the Lucozade stand and meeting up with some pals from coffee and a chat.
Sunday dawned sunny in St Albans and the journey over to Blackheath was easy enough. Said cheerio to Kate (and Skips the dawg) and showed my number at the entry gate to the runners enclosure only to be informed I was at the wrong start (they had split some of the “good for age” entries into the front pen of the Green Start. The quick jog to the correct start served as a good warm up I suppose. Given I didn’t have long to the start and the queue for the toilets was long, I quickly handed in the kit bag to the truck …only to realise my gels were still in the kit bag.
The silence to show respect and solidarity for Boston was impressive, about 30,000 folks standing in perfect unity. Loud clapping followed and we were off. Took a while to settle into a clean line and the target pace in the first few miles but by the time the various starts merged, all was well.
As in previous years, I opted for using every available water station with small and often being key. Could really feel the heat building and it felt sensible not to stay out any longer than necessary. Feeling fairly good, I stayed with a bunch of runners who were crowding at the back of the 2:59 official pace maker good fun until around the 11 mile mark. Realising the pace was unsustainable and quicker than intended, I backed off to something more in keeping with abilty.
Went through the half marathon at 1:30:02 and smiled knowing all I needed to do was not mess up the second half and a new PB was possible. Kept a steady pace for the next ten miles before having a wee moment where everything became a source of pain. For the 2nd year in a row, the thing which raised spirits was a random spectator shouting something along the lines of “come oan the beard” – does more than any energy gel could ever do.
Nearly spewed between 24 and 25 miles not because my stomach was giving an issue but the sight of some poor lass runner losing all control over her bowels. A quick acceleration was needed to get wide and past her. To add insult to injury as I nipped ahead, could hear another runner commenting …as if she wouldn’t have noticed she had just crapped herself.
Pleased to report that I stumbled across the line in a new PB of 3:08:12.
Would love to say I felt good but it was all I could do to make my way out of the runners enclosure to meet Kate before pretty much collapsing on the grass where I stayed for a wee while scared to stand up again. Recovery did come along however and that evening say a mix of live music, beers and spicy food !
Huge respect to fellow Westies Michael Sweeney & Ian Stewart for going sub 3 !