Running race 2:30:17  26.2 mi (5:44 / mi)
Hot, loud, tough, worthwhile....but 17 seconds too long. Will write more when I have some more energy! Not going to be drinking any more lucozade for quite a while.
London Marathon Report : had a train journey to kill so longer than usual, please feel free to skip to the end!
Not perfect preparation - but at least it burnt off some nervous energy.
A last minute change of platform announcement meant that Andy P and I (and about 100 other people) missed our scheduled train at London Bridge. Bumped into Jez Edwards (who had managed to flag down and hitchhike on an empty London Bus on the way to the start) and Roger Goddard at Greenwich Park. The cool weather forecast had been a bit too optimistic; there was a blue sky and it was already feeling pretty hot by 8.30.
Managed to make my way to the AAA start, got my vest scrutinised by officials to make sure I did not have any illegal markings or any sponsor logos which were too large (chance would be a fine thing). The AAA pen was pretty busy but managed to spot Mike and Andy T. Got changed, had a long loo queue (15 minutes), missed the first call up the start, nearly lost my watch (a "helpful" official had picked it up from the ground whilst it was trying half heartedly to pick up some satellites). Managed to get to the start line on time, having emptied bowels and found satellites but not having warmed up much (a few leg swings and a 100m jog off to the start).
The wait for the start was pretty exciting watching all the Elite runners being introduced and then being slowly taken forward towards the startline whilst about 10,000 other runners joined in behind us. A few runners from different start blocks had managed to sneak their way up the front - one of them was told to "go to the back" and he simply walked into the crowd of runners and all the start official could do was glare at him. Nice move.
Start - 6
Managed to keep my cool and not hare off at the start (my first mile was actually one of my slowest) I was amazed at the number of runners who just charged off. I was a bit annoyed at myself for not having warmed up so it took a bit of time to get into my running and I was aware of tightness in my left hamstring for much of the first 4 miles. To add to my frustrations my lap split function on my watch was also not working nor was my heart rate monitor (threw it off to a startled Clare at mile 3). In a way this probably helped because it gave me things to think about (keeping a relaxed stride to ensure that my hamstring was ok and calculating mile times in the absence of my splits). Support from Armand, Clare and Emma was appreciated. I had lots of shouts of ?go on H? which was not account of my pop star looks but because of my Hallamshire club vest.
6 - Halfway
Felt like I was getting into my running by now. The field was thinning out and I had found a natural comfortable rhythm. I kept catching and passing people which was nice - it took quite a while to catch a group and then I would slowly work past them so there was always something to think about. Just before tower bridge I caught sight of Stef North who I knew was aiming to run under 2:30:00 so that gave me a bit of a boost. Tower bridge was amazing and I made the time to look out over London and try to enjoy myself. I had loads of support during this section, including Clare and Emma, family Guillaume, family Thake, Ant and a flag waving Ben, Roger and Ann Smith (unexpected), Ruth Forest ? (unexpected), Jo Mercer (unexpected) and Eleanor West (she shocked me a bit - she said "go on Rob Baker", I turned round a bit confused (but always polite) and said without thinking "thanks very much Eleanor". I hit halfway pretty much bang on schedule 1:14:41 (was aiming to run on a 2:29 schedule).
Halfway to 20 miles
Felt really strong throughout this section. Was steadily catching and passing people. Took a gel at 14 and then rode the caffeine and glucose wave to 16 where I caught a large group including Steph. We shared a bottle of lucozade and passed some pleasantries. My stomach started to "growl" a bit at 17 but I was not too concerned - it will just take some time for the water to go down - I thought. I was still feeling strong and over 1 minute up on 2:30 pace. I really felt that I had quite a bit left in my legs at this stage, but didn't want to push too hard in case I blew up or brought on cramp or upset my stomach further. I was content just to continue to steadily pass people and take in the support (from Ben and Ant, Clare, Emma, and Matt and Alison).
20 - Finish
At 20 miles my stomach really started to rumble - I hadn't taken in much fluid between 17 and 20 but things hadn't got any better. I had quite a few bile belches (nice) and thought that I might be sick but managed to keep it down and keep motoring. At this point Stef came passed me (the first of only 2 competitors to pass me from mile 1 onwards). I tried to go with him but as soon as I did so my stomach started to turn over. From this point on I just tried to stay as relaxed as possible and focus on picking off runners (there were quite a few people clearly suffering at this point) and not thinking about my stomach. I was conscious that I was gradually slowing and increasingly 1minute buffer was being eaten away. I was really fighting by mile 25 and was pleased for the support from team Guillaume. I knew at this stage I was in trouble and that I had to run a strong and fast last mile. I started to dig in but as soon as I did so I thought I was about to be sick. Managed to run past London Eye, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace without noticing any of them! At the 800m to go line I knew I had missed my 2.30 target but tried to dig in anyway and managed (what felt like) a burst to the finish.
I passed over the finish line and was just relieved to stop running. I was bent over trying to catch my breath back when a race official came over to me to congratulate me but politely ask me to move onwards. In response I proceeded to projectile vomit all over the finish line - my stomach thought it was having a party as soon as it stopped receiving the "you must not be sick" signals - the official took a step back and said "take you time". Didn't realise but all this was being captured by the BBC who had a live feed of the finish. A minute and 500ml of Lucozade later I was ready to move on, keen to know how Andy Thake had got on and was nervous to hear of Mike and Andy's progress.
Thoughts post race
Am I frustrated I missed 2.30? Yes and no. It would obviously have been great to achieve my goal but I knew that I did as best I could under the circumstances. I am still learning and with hindsight would not have drunk so much water early on (I was worried about it being so hot) and stuck to my race plan. I would also have stuck 2 fingers down my throat at mile 20 - I thought about it but ironically I was worried about losing time and rhythm.
Mike S, Andy T and Stu Maycock (Hallamshire performance of the day) all ran PBs or broke their targets for the race. Andy P ran strongly considering some of the pre race niggles / injuries he had had to overcome. The support from Clare and all the others was fantastic (and the other 15,000 or so weren't to bad either!).
Will I do it again maybe (probably), would I recommend it to others ? definitely.
Marathon splits according to my garmin so do not necessarily match up with official times ? 1: 5.54, 2: 5:40, 3:5.36 (downhill), 4: 5.37, 5:5.42, 6:5.40, 7:5.40, 8:5.37, 9:5.42, 10:5.32 (not sure why so quick), 11: 5.34, 12:5.38, 13:5.38, 14:5.38, 15:5.27 (not sure why), 16: 5.36, 17:5.33, 18:5.34, 19: 5.24, 20: 5.20 (don?t believe this one!), 21: 5.38, 22:5.42, 23: 5.48, 24:5.46, 25: 5.52, 26: 6:02 (really lost it between 25 and 26).