Running race (The big one) 2:26:58  26.2 mi (5:37 / mi)
Great day. Went as well as it possibly could have done.
Will write more later...
Had some time to kill on the train. Please feel free to skip to the end!
Woke up at 6.15 and had a shower before heading down to breakfast at 6.30. The dining room was full of nervous looking runners. Had some muesli and 2 slices of toast and then went and got my stuff. As ever I had packed twice as much as everyone else (that’s what you get for being an ex cub scout). Train journey was uneventful compared with last year’s faff and excitement (I put this down to travelling with Mike rather than Andy!). I couldn’t help but think that the red clothing / plastic bags each runner was carrying signified a morning’s worth of shopping for pain and suffering (but with was no exchange policy).
Got to start area just over an hour before start and washed down some pro-plus and an Imodium tablet. Didn’t feel too nervous but I realised how much I was when my hands were shaking tying my shoe laces together.
Did about 10 minutes light jogging before the start and did a few leg swings but was relying on the first few miles to get me warmed up. Continually drank lucozade up till the start.
Start – 10 k (17:23, 17:33 – 34:56)
The first mile was the slowest of the race 5.40 but I was comfortable with this and more concerned with not getting caught up with the melee of people tearing off all around me.
Felt sorry for the guy who I saw drop their £240 garmin in the road (wrist band snapped?); but was amazed that after one forlorn look back he decided to carry on. I exchanged glances with the guy next to me and he said “well I would have gone back for that” and someone beside me said “I’m still tempted.” Well at least someone would have got a good spot prize.
Spent quite a few of the first miles looking at my own garmin (strap checked to make sure it was nicely tightened) to make sure I didn’t get swept along too fast as the pace kept creeping up around me. I actively made a decision to run at the side of the road by myself on mile 4 as I wanted to focus on my own pace.
10k – 20k (17:40, 17:40 - 35:20)
Felt settled by the 10k marker which seemed to come up in no time at all. At this point I had got into a good rhythm and there was a group of us starting to form who were all running at a similar pace. As everyone is generally feeling pretty good at this stage there was actually quite a bit of banter. I was particularly amused by a couple from Thames Valley who were playing a game of “Yours” amongst the crowd. Running in a large group also had the advantage of generating a lot of noise from the spectators so this helped to keep my excitement levels topped up. As did seeing Clare and family Squire at 9.
20k – 30k (17:25, 17:24 -34:49)
This was spent near the front of what one of the runners had now called “the bus.” There was probably about 15 or so of us who were running together in a pelatonesque fashion. I was running near the front of the group in order to try and stay out of trouble. The few times I thought about sheltering amongst the others I got my heels clipped and I certainly didn’t want to risk taking a tumble. The 5k splits showed that the pace was creeping up at this point. Whilst I was looking at my garmin I was not too preoccupied with mile splits; I was feeling strong and I figured that it was good to stay in a good pack in case I did start to have a bad patch so that I would have others to work with. I had a bit of a chuckle to myself as we hit half way in 74:03 (I had aimed for 74:00) and thought that luck might be on my side. There was loads going on during this 10k section, including going over Tower Bridge, passing half way, seeing the leading elite women. Consequently this is all a bit of a blur. I was also riding the caffeine and glucose wave of an energy gel I took at mile 13.
30k – 40k (17:07, 17:08 - 34:15)
After last year (feeling good at 17 – 20 miles, but having stomach issues in the home stretch), I had told myself that I wasn’t going to actively push on till 20 miles. By this point the “bus” had broken up and I was running with one or two other guys. We were starting to make some in-roads on some other fragmented groups at this point and it certainly helped motivation levels to feel strong passing by some other runners. I had another gel at mile 20 and let myself push on a bit here, I was still feeling (relatively) strong and the support was getting noisier. Unfortunately I missed Clare but just caught sight of Mike’s parents. My only concern at this point was cramp – I was feeling tight in the centre of both hamstrings and it felt like they could go at any moment.
40 – 42.2k (7.38)
At this point I was alone and just trying to keep my legs turning over, continually counting 100 double paces and then starting over again just to give myself something to think about. I picked out Big Ben and Trafalgar Square (which I missed last time) and just tried to hold it all together. I had not looked at my watch for the last 10 minutes of so and it was a genuine surprise when I turned the corner after Birdcage Walk to see the clock on 2:26:20. I knew that sub 2:27:00 was on the cards but was really worried about cramping up. I attempted a straight legged sprint into the finish (apologies to Kelly who spent all her time teaching me drills) and limped over the line in just under 2:27.00.
Got a bit emotional on crossing the finish line but quickly got caught up in swapping stories with the other runners around me including Phil Hoole from Rotherham. We chatted as we made the long walk to collect our goodie bags and medals.
Was really nervous waiting to hear about Mike’s progress (whose prep and dedication had matched or even exceeded mine). Was gutted that his run did not reflect his potential; but it was actually a pretty amazing time considering how ill he was.
A really great day, which couldn’t have been achieved without the support from friends and family and in particular the guidance, patience and indulgence of CC (coach Clare).