Preparations for this year’s London Marathon were slightly unorthodox.
With the arrival of Benjamin in January, I’d done virtually no running in Jan and Feb; then crammed in 8 half marathons the month before London; but didn’t manage a single road run longer than 13.1 miles. So I knew for sure I would fade in the 2nd half.
Without any long run training, I knew there was no point in taking the race too seriously, so instead I treated it as an easy-osy potter around the streets of London, and put up no resistance as runners drifted past for the first 25 miles.
In order that I didn’t have to bother calculating the difference between my chip and gun time, I decided to lead the charge off the Red Start, and was only beaten in the initial sprint by somebody dressed as Superman. Once underway, I backed right off and went through the first mile in 6:03, which was no doubt too fast, but it didn’t feel quick since I hadn’t run all week.
I then maintained an incredibly even pace until Mile 14, going though halfway in 1:24:18, before suddenly getting a stupid stitch which meant I couldn’t breathe or run properly for a couple of miles. Eventually the stitch must have gone away, but by that time I’d slowed right down, and couldn’t really get back onto the pace, so I just plodded along, still thinking I would run around 2:55.
Anyhow, I must have been too complacent and slowed down more than I’d realised since when I was approaching Mile 25, it suddenly dawned on me that I was in danger of tripping over the 3 hours. I got a nice shout from Amy Pitch just before Parliament Square which galvinised me into making one final push up Birdcage Walk. Since at no point so far had I actually been forcing the pace, I realised I could speed up fairly easily and found myself passing crowds of folk, which suddenly became quite fun.
I didn’t want to overcook it and cramp my legs or anything, but when the 400 metres to go sign came into view I realised my watch said 2:57-something. This felt far too close for comfort. I chucked away my bag of jelly babies I’d been carrying and gutted myself around the corner, only to remember that there is another corner before you see the finishing gates on The Mall. As I came to this final final corner I could hear the BBC annoucer bellowing something about James Cracknell, but then I saw Superman who had out-sprinted me off the startline, so I nipped past him and put in my fastest 100 metres of the race to dive under the gate in 2:58:59. Mightily relieved.
Well done to Graham who finished shortly afterwards in 3:10:20.