Apr 24

My first Fell Race

Me, powering up the Stretton Hills
Up on the hill

I did my first fell race this weekend. Organised by Mercia Fell Runners, it was a 5k race with about 350m of ascent targeted at Novices only – those who had never done a Fell Race before. There were 78 entries and 58 participants who headed to Church Stretton to give it a go.

Lots of nervousness before the start, talking to a number of people who had turned up – with about 60% of them women. There was a definite reluctance to have tried this sport through a more regular race, with concerns about being able to do, but it was made clear that this was all about giving it a go.

They had made the course fully marshalled, so no need to be trying to work out the route. You ran between cheering volunteers who were very happy to cheer you on and give support.

I joked before hand that I would be last – my uphills are slow, by downhills are slower, but didn’t quite make that target, there were 3 people behind me 🙂 I was however last in my class. But never mind, it was a great day out and a lot of fun, i just need to keep training!

Apr 29

Race Report – London Marathon 2019

Holding up medal a tthe end of London Marathon
Got the medal!

After a few years failing at the public ballot and instead marshalling on the course, this year I got into the London Marathon through the marshalls ballot – a number of places are offered to the groups that volunteer.  As the decisions were not known until January, it’s not for everyone, but as I was training for Manchester, I thought it would be great to do another race 3 weeks later.

Runners in fancy dress
Fancy dress

As I was in the last pen at my start, there was no need to get their too early; the 7:47 train meant I got there just after 9, plenty of time until my planned start of 10:48.  I started from the Green start, which is the middle one – so you definitely needed to be there in time to cross the course before the running started.  This start was where all the Guinness World Record attempts were starting from, so there were some impressive costumes on display.   Looking at these, along with watching the screens meant that time ticked along nicely. I was cosy in my trial cape – something the marathon was doing in an attempt to cut down on plastic waste. Before I knew it, it was time for a last minute loo visit (nobody queuing at that point) and time to get into the pen.

Before the marathon, in front of the start line. wrapped in cape
My cozy cape

We were a few minutes later starting than scheduled, but it was not too bad.  It was a very smalls tart, so little pushing or moving around to get some space.  I had no ambitions for this race, in fact, I planned to be slower than last time! As my first London was such a blur, this one I intended to slow down, enjoy the sites and the crowd and take lots of photos.  As I slowly went past the 6 hour pacer, I had a chat, he was running on his own, planning to pick up a few people on the way as they slowed down.  I intended to do my best to stay in front of him, but not too hard!

The first few miles were pretty quiet, heading east, not too many runners and not too many spectators.  We first of all joined up with the Blue start runners and then later the Red start, when it got really busy – and the crowds picked up.  The main joining point tends to be full of runners waiting for friends and family so they can join up with them. The main joining point is also when you turn the corner and start to run west, heading into town for the first time.  Slowly the crowds pick up, but there are still sections when there are just a few outside their houses.  The first big spectator session is in Greenwich, especially around the Cutty Sark. Loud and raucous, they definitely give you a boost and speed you up!

Me in front of the Cutty Sark
Cutty sark

The miles tick by, Deptford and Lewisham and Rotherhithe, all with their own local ambience. Sometimes there’s a church congregration out, sometimes a set of pubgoers, dancing along to the music.   I’d run consistently up to this point, now was the time to switch to run walk…generally a 5:2 run walk patter, with extra time for sites, slopes (not too many of those) and water stations.

Bermondsey Tube station comes into view and I know it can’t be far until the turn across the river. You follow the main road, the crowds getting heavier and louder and you take the right turn and there it is, Tower Bridge.  The first time I ran London, I shed a few tears..I’d made it this far, the famous crossing but I kept going.  This time, I walked and just soaked up the atmosphere.  Amazing!

Me on TowerBridge

Over the Bridge and another right turn, away from town again, heading out to the Isle of Dogs and Caray Wharf.  It’s a dual carriage way here and you can see the runners, 8 miles ahead of you, heading back into town on the final stretch. I’d run pretty much

In Limehouse, another right turn and into narrow streets.  The crowds press in, all good natured, but you need to take care.  A big ushaped loop and back through into dockloads. This is where your gps system goes haywire, with all the buildings, the trace zigzagging to either side of the road, with all the tall buildings.  Your final mileage will always read higher because of this stretch (mine read 26.83 at the end, with a lot of extra feet recorded in this section)

Finally you turn and head back, back to the highway.  I saw no-one on it when running back.  The sweeper bus had passed by and people had joined or given up. The pack up lorries and crew were there.. Sweeping up the rubbish, taking down the mile markers, cleaning the paint off the road.  It’s a huge job to set up and take down the event, but they always seem to manage it, although I’m guessing there will be bottles and gel packets still out there.

22 miles, 23 miles. A few people I know were marshalling along this section, so a bit of chat was had. The crowds were still strong even now, so high fives and jelly babies taken on board. I still (mainly had a grin on my face) but it was hurting now. The mind was still having fun, the body less so. Every other walk break I was chatting with family on whatsapp and sending the occasional photos, looking at social and just letting them know what was going on.   Here’s the Tower, not long now

The Blackfriars underpass – not as long or as steep as I remembered. But still as sticky from the Lucozade on the floor. Mile 24 and the embankment. The final stretch!  So many people, I just couldn’t help but grin and keep looking around. As I said to one of the water station helpers, it was absolutely amazing.

Me on the Embankment, in fron of Big Ben/Elizabeth tower
Nearly there

The embankment is packed, with lots of charity cheering stations.  I spotted my favourite sign again – Go Rachel – not for me, but I’d seen it at least 4 times and it definitely applied.  Round the river bend and there’s Elizabeth Tower, in scaffolding but the clock face visible.

A turn next to Parliament and police rather than marshalls watching the crowd. A deep crowd but surprisingly quiet, the reason becoming obvious as I passed a guy in hand cuffs next to a bike. Had he made a wrong turn or just decided to do something stupid.

Me just before the last 200m to go on the Mall

Westminster Square, a glance over to the Churchill. Less than a mile to go, lets keep pushing on, run walk still in action.  800m sign, 600m, I see people from my local park run with a big sign, they were waiting for me (excellent photo!).  400m and the last but one turn. There’s the sign for 385yards…so that means 26miles is done! Buckingham Palace ticked off my photo list and then onto the red pavement of the mall to the finish line. Quieter than I expected here, the grandstands fairly empty and not replaced by the general crowds, but all eyes were on the finish.  One final push and there I was. A marathon finisher again!

Medal handed out, new cape obtained, photos got, then the goody bag – why wasn’t there chocolate?  Even better, chocolate covered slated peanuts would have been heaven!  No stopping to be done, had to keep moving. The brain had switched off and I felt every step, no running possible now, just foot in front of foot, heading out, time to get to the train station. Why are all these people in medals looking fresh and walking so fast (yep, fitter people who finished a while ago!)

Station, train, one final effort. A shower, washing off the salt crystals and finding the painful chafed bits. A glass of wine, some takeaway Indian and the day was done.

Apr 13

Race Report – Manchester Marathon 2019

Me outside Old Trafford, holding up my Manchester Marathon medal

Last May, when it was getting close to my London to Brighton ultra, I was planning my 2019 run and decided to put a marathon in the programme. I’d failed to start Birmingham the year before – too much going on, not enough headspace for training – so needed to have another in the plan.  Having read a lot of good things about Manchester (after they’d sorted out a couple of years with difficulties) I decided that this would be my target.  (I had entered the London ballot, but never expected to get in again – and I was right, at least through that method).

I booked the marathon, I booked the hotel near to the start and then put it to the back of my mind.  I had a half booked in for October, so the plan was to train for that, and then switch to a marathon programme. The brain decided otherwise, not having anything to do with running or walking for 2 months after London-Brighton and even after that, playing games with me and making it really hard to get stuck in to some serious miles. The travel also made things more difficult, especially as it got into the darker nights, as I didn’t know the routes in the same way. Then I also booked the Kili trip for Februaryand was on holiday for most of November.

All of this meant that in the 6 months before the marathon, I had run a total of 173 miles (and walked another 164 miles). In contrast, for my first marathon I had run 568 miles in the 6 months training.  So I was undertrained, to put it mildly!  Never mind…I’m generally stubborn, I know the effort it will need, I decided to go for it.

I travelled up to Manchester on the Saturday and made my way to the hotel.  The first thing to check was the distance to my start pen, so back out I went and timed the walk as 8 minutes.  Lovely, plenty of time to sort myself out in the morning.  The a meal of pasta before an early night.

Breakfast was from 6 – usually, it only started at 7:30 at the weekends, but given the number of runners staying, they’d made provision.  Coffee and food sorted, it was back to the room to rest for a couple of hours before I needed to move.

One short walk later, I joined the crowds.  This was probably the worst organised start I’d experiences.  Although the information sent out beforehand had clear maps and the pens were clearly marked at the front, there was other structure to the pen apart from a lead barrier to separate then for the different start times. There were no barriers around the groups and no checking you were in the right groups, although the instructions had implied there would be and the pens would close 20 mins before the start time.  I could have stayed in the hotel an extra 30 mins and just wandered up for the start!

Eventually, the horn went, the elites started off and the pens slowly made their way to the front I was in pen G, so by the time we started moving, the first group where heading back towards us to start their mile 3.

I’d finally decided on my race plan. My initial plans were to do a run-walk race, but I knew I could do a half marathon steadily without stopping, and I knew there were plenty of water stations I’d want to walk through to make sure I got gels and water onboard.  So I decided on a mixed strategy of running at least the 1st half and then switch to run walk after that; I though this would be the best strategy. The 5:30 pacer later passed me, having obviously done run walk from the start, however I think the run pace would have been just over what I was comfortable with, having done almost no speed training.  The target was 5:45, which meant I had to average 13:10 per mile – giving a pretty good buffer for the massive slowdown I knew I would get in the latter stages.

Off I went, slow and steady at my “usual” pace, which is just under 12 minute miles.  We first head north east into the city along a dual carriageway before swinging round a loop back to the start area in mile 3. The weather was perfect, overcast, cool, with a breeze, and the course was flat. it was easy to get into a rhythm. Now heading out of the city, I passed by the first water station – nothing needed yet, but took the first gel at 4 miles. By this point, the relay racers were starting to catch us up. In teams of 2 or 4, they were a lot faster than many, especially later in the race, but luckily all had Relay notices on their back so you didn’t feel too bad when they passed you! 

My pace was being maintained, even with a very quick walk break at mile 6. We were now in Sale, continuing to head out into to the suburbs and then onto the country.  Every “centre” had a good crowd, often with music. Timperley, at mile 10 was particularly memorable, a lot of people, a commentator outside a pub and music.  Everytime you passed these groupings, you definitely sped up! I carried on, reaching Altrincham, the turn round point.   Mile 12 was my first slower one, with a water break and the only real hill on the course in the town centre.

The turn round point and we headed back into town, first the way we came and then swinging west to head further out. So far, I was keeping a steady pace, miles 13, 14 and 15 were all at the quicker pace – I’d managed more than the target 13 miles at my “race” pace, now it started to hurt, dropping into 13+ minute miles. My legs felt not too bad, just tired, except for hips, which had been giving a lot of trouble in the weeks before the race, feeling tight.  They started to give me a little pain, but not enough to interrupt the slide. 

Miles 18 to 23 definitely felt they were out in the country. There was support, but not consistent, often large stretches without any one (it was also late in the race, so there are never as many).  I’d now settled into a new run-walk routine.  From each mile marker, walk 0.1 of a mile, run half a mile, walk 0.1 of a mile, run to the next mile marker. If the signs to the water station were showing it was close to my next walk break, (they were signposted 400m out) then just keep running until then and walk through the water station to take on the drink.  This routine kept me going, and gave my mind something to do.

Finally, there was just a parkrun to do (I looked for a sign, there is often one, but did not see anything). Everything was slowing down further and my hips were getting worse, mainly the right side (the usual bad one). More and more people were stopping to stretch out, but luckily, I was not hit by cramp and could keep moving forward, it was just uncomfortable.  There was no speed in the legs now and I wasn’t even tempted to try and keep up with the 5:30 pacer.  I knew I could finish, and it was just a matter of keeping going – which means the brain slightly switched off and I spent a little longer walking, especially up any slight rise!

Turning the last corner, you could see the finish – about half a mile ahead.  A bit more at a walk and then time to gather everything together and head for the line.  The crowd was still massive around this section and there were plenty of cheers and encouragement, especially helpful as the finish took a long time to get to! 

And I was done!  With a time of 5:36, my 2nd fastest time out of the 4 I have done, which was really pleasing. Overall, I felt not too bad, far better than the previous two. Although I had no speed, the walk training and the mountain training had definitely helped my overall stamina, so I knew that the distance was doable.  Time to pick up the medal, the maltloaf and the beer!  Well, Erdinger Alkoholfrei, which appears to be marketed as an isotonic drink therefore should be perfect for after a marathon!!!  It was fine for sipping as I wandered back to the hotel.  25 minutes after finishing, I was in the shower, stretching, before food and a welcome glass of wine.  Definitely good having a hotel so close.

Manchester marathon is a great marathon. Well supported, a good course, great marshalls and well organised (except for the start pens).  I full recommend having a go – especially if you’re a fast one as it’s actually pretty flat.  They’d upped the numbers this year to 20k, so it’s one of the largest in Europe and I think they’re going to keep seeing how they can grow it.

I don’t have to look far ahead for my next marathon – after 2 years without one, I now have 2 in 2 months. I got a marshall’s ballot place this year and so Manchester, at 3 weeks before London this year, has acted as the perfect last long run before London – so I’m now in taper!  See you there 😊

My Strava splits for Manchester Marathon
Apr 29

Marshalling at the London Marathon

London Marathon 2015

Last April I entered the Paris Marathon as my target for the year, but I still put my name down for the London ballot, just in case. I didn’t get in, but as a result of finally joining a running club I get did get an option to marshal the race. Having being very grateful to people who have marshalled the races I’ve run, I thought it was time to give something back.

London Marathon 2015

The day started early, with a group of us meeting at 7am at the Tube station to make our way to Shadwell for our briefing. West 4 Harriers have for years being part of the team that marshall on the Highway, which is from Tower Bridge mile 12.5 to Limehouse (mile 14) and the reverse route miles (21.5-23, or near enough). it’s a great piece of course as we get to see the runners twice.

London Marathon 2015

Briefing done, we spread out onto the course for 9am and then our job was waiting. Not too long, as we had a series of elite racers come by. The wheelchairs, the IPC championships, then the women elite and finally the men elite, who were followed by the trickle, stream and then flood of the masses.

London Marathon 2015

We were there for safety, to answer crowed questions and most importantly for the runners. We started off with a security role, keeping an eye out for left bags and then an eye out for anyone who may decide that jumping out in front of the elites would be a good idea. Luckily, nothing like that happened on my section, although the section along did have to call in the police after a woman had left her suitcase next to the course as she went to the toilet (there were long queues, she was gone a while).

London Marathon 2015

Later, it was all about supporting runners. On the way out, most runners were going along fine. On the way back, the effort was beginning to take its toll. Last year, with the heat, there were apparently a lot of collapses in the area that needed support. This year, I had to deal only with one person who had a very heavy fall and knocked the wind out of her. She did get up and carry on, hope she finished.

London Marathon 2015

So as it was quiet, I had the chance to take a lot of photos (you can find them all on Flickr) and chat with a BBC spotter, who was set up to spot celebrities (and great fancy dress) for the camera that was about 200 years up the road. So celebrity spotting and cheering was the rest of my day. Along with freezing as it was very cold – I ended up having to dance a lot to the music just to keep warm.

London Marathon 2015

This was the first marathon I’ve watched end to end and the difference from start to finish is huge. I think London, with its large emphasis on charity places and fundraising, may be slightly unusual on the people it attracts – it has a 7 hour cutoff time but there appeared to be a lot of people running who would not make that.

London Marathon 2015

As time went on, the stream reduced back to a trickle as the slower pens got to the 13 mile mark. The the sweepers came by, the car that told everyone that the course was closed, that they had to move to the pavement. Followed by the street cleaners, the rubbish collectors and the course demantlers. I felt for the people who were being overtaken at that point – at what point would they decide to stop if they are overtaken by course closed at 13 miles? People who had taken on the challenge but had probably not realised what that meant!

London Marathon 2015
As the runners went back the other way, the sweepers turned up again. This was at 22 miles, you’d got a mixture of people who had obviously suffered an injury or had hit the wall. it was all walking and at this point the stare of death had set in. I’ve been the, I know it. It’s one step at a time, just pushing forward to the finish, knowing about but not having the energy to acknowledge the comments. this is the point I made sure I was loud and encouraging, this is the point it is needed. 4 miles out, I would assume that everyone who was passed by the sweeper would keep going to the finish, I hope they got a medal! I aslo saw a lot of family and friends joined them at this point, just to keep the march going.

Overall, a great day, well worth it. Would I do it again next year? Only if I’m not running!

London Marathon 2015

Apr 13

Running the Paris Marathon

I ran the Paris marathon on Sunday. Running it was a very. very silly idea but I still went ahead and did it. Last year, London was my first marathon. I had no idea what to expect, I did all the training I could despite suffering an injury, I pushed through and finished the marathon to plan, in the target time. It was hard and I was not mentally prepared for those last 6miles but I liked it enough to try again.

When I entered Paris last April, the intention was I would train regularly during the summer to build up the base fitness and improve my speed before starting the formal training plan. But that was before I ended up with a detached retina and not being able to do anything for a couple of months. So I started off with the plan, at lower level then I wanted and it was all going well until a fall, a broken finger, another operation under general anaesthetic, colds, chest infections, and a shin splint that meant it was hard to walk at times, never mind run! Seven weeks ago, if I could have, i would have deferred the entry but you can’t do that with Paris. Furthermore, my travel and hotel were paid for, so i was going anyway. In the last 6 weeks, I have only run about 50miles, with some other aerobic training built in. Nowhere near enough when I was supposed to be running 50m a week! I was not sure I was going to run until a few days before and even then, I still had the option not to. I had amended my plan. Instead of 4 hours, my original target a year ago, I wanted to get under 5:40, the published cutoff time. I researched run-walk plans and was prepared – if I decided to run. I’d run to each km marker and then walk for 60 seconds.


I arrived in Paris on Friday, dropped my stuff at my hotel and headed right to the expo to get my number. It was surprisingly quick through the process. Hand in the medical form, get my convocation stamped, move to the next section and swap that for my number. then make my way through all the stalls. I did end up buying a souvenir tshirt and cap, but didn’t do much shopping for other things.

Notre Dame

Saturday, i decided to spend a could of hours wandering around Notre Dame (to add to my cathedrals visited collection) before a quick pasta lunch and then an afternoon napping and eating carbs, before more pasta in the evening. A long, lazy day eating carbs sounds fun; the lazing was, but not the ongoing ingestion of noting for bread, pasta, fruit juice and sugar!

Notre Dame

Sunday morning, it was time to race. I’d spent the week watching the weather and my worst fears were realised. It was going to be a ‘hot’ and sunny day. Hot is relative, but 20c is more than warm enough. An early breakfast before getting ready to be out for 7:30. Made my way to the Metro station for the direct journey to the start area, then a quick dash back to pick up my watch. yes, despite making a list, I still forgot to put on my Garmin! Second attempt to get on a train worked and off I went> Most people got off at the Arc de Triomphe stop but I stayed on an extra couple of stops to get to the end of the finish straight and an easy stroll to the baggage drop off. A final loo stop, a check I’d remembered everything (it turned out I hadn’t. more later) and then no queue to drop the bag off. More strolling up to the start, through the chaos around the Arc de Triomphe where not all traffic is stopped and the runners play frogger.


Because I knew I was nowhere near my predicted pace, I decided to drop back a pen or two, but they would not let me. I was only allowed into my original starting pen. Once in there, I settled at the back and waited, not oo long, only about 25 mins before we were ready to move. We slowly made our way down the pen, moving through the queues for the loos (hint, if you’re in a back pen and need a last minutes put stop, wander on down once they release you as there are loos with no queues).

They started on time and I headed off, keeping well to the side and trying to stay out of the way as everyone started to stream past me. It was straight down the Champs Elysee, wide and plenty of room. The first km marker came quickly and my first walk break. After the wide part, the roads narrowed, made even more narrow by crowds creeping in.There was very little control of this and in some parts it made for some vary slow running. There was also minimal control of people crossing the course and I saw plenty of near missed and the odd collision, as people just strolled across, with bikes or small children. There was often little time to react of this, which made the running risky at times!

The first water break arrived and it was time to grab a bottle, half of which went over my head – it was warm!! I also made sure I took advantage of the cooling stations, grabbing a handful of water out a bowl and running through the spray from the firemen’s hoses. The kms (and miles) kept ticking over. At mile 10 I grabbed a quick loo break, ignoring the state of the loo. There were plenty of men nipping to the side fro a break at many points where the course was quiet

So far so good, but i could feel the tiredness creeping up. At half way, I was on pretty much the same pace I’d run my last half in, passing through it in just over .5 hours. But I knew I wouldn’t be able to maintain it. I’d been drinking regularly and taking my gels to plan, so it was just plane old lack of miles in the legs rather that fluid or fuel I think. By mile 18 I was taking 90 second breaks, then I hit the drinks stalls at about mile 20/km 30. Paris don’t provide gels or isotonic drink (except for one stand) but they do provide oranges or bananas and lots of people take advantage of them, throwing the peel all over the ground. This stand was on a slight slope and I could have done with spikes to keep my grip – traction was definitely an issue! This was the start of me starting to walk for longer and also the start of my right hip starting to cramp up, interestingly more so when I was walking rather than running. for the next few miles, I was doing shorter runs and longer walks. But I was not going to stop. It was only 2 park runs to do, then only the 1 park run. that was only 3 laps round my local park. But the legs at this point had done enough. They didn’t like running and the hip hurt when I walked. I switched to run 1min, walk 1min, or rather count of 60, again and again. The final mile though was walked, or rather limped, even down the finish straight. I’d done more than enough, all I wanted to do was finish.

Eventua;y, I got there. Through the markers and just keep walking. Get finishers tShirt, get water, get some oranges and pick up my medal. I was very silly to try and run Paris marathon but I finished it, in 5:38, so just under my target time. I would never, ever advise someone to do the same with such little training. It hurts!


Oh, the final things I forgot? To vaseline my upper arms, so I’m in extreme pain now from chafing and bleeding there. Always remember to slather on the vaseline! It worked on my feet, no blisters there. And surprisingly, despite legs being sore, i can still walk down stairs normally.

I liked the Paris marathon, but not as much as London. Paris is huge – they had 41k finishers. Much of the course is past some of the greatest sites that Paris has to offer, but some is still through boring woods, including eh last section which has nothing on the end of London. There is much made of the crowd who watch, but although they were heavy at times, I did not think there was the same consistency as London. Overall, the organisation was good, he start, finish and information provided. The only area I had concerns with was what appeared to be lack of marshalls. There were large stretches with what appeared to be no cover, which, given the temperatures, could have lead to delays getting treatment

Apr 14

Running the London Marathon

London Marathon 2014

The day started off early! 5:30 wakeup to get 6:30 bus. I always prefer to be early and hate travelling in crowds and achieved this extremely well. Saw very few on the bus, tube or train and got to the meetup point 20 mins early, just before 8. So meet up with a few people from a running forum, plus with Angela, she’d volunteered to run with me – and I was extremely happy she did.

We entered the gathering area about 9ish, made the obligatory loo visit and then got ready – sun cream and vaseline. It was too warm to wear my throwaway clothes, which I’d dragged all the way there (and then took all the way back). made our way to Pen 9, and found a corner to sit and wait. When I’d entered, I had no idea what time I’d do, so probably put something close to 6, therefore we were at the back.

And we were off. I’d made the decision to run 9:50-9:55m/m as far as I could, knowing that I would fade and that’s what we settled into and pretty much managed for the nearly 30k. The first 5k was fairly quiet as we went through Woolwich areas, with the men yelling ‘hump’ making me smile, especially the kid who just kept up yelling. 🙂 Nothing much to report about the next 5k, we just kept ticking the miles down. the crowds around Greenwich were brilliant and my family had managed to get a spot right by the Cutty Sark so that was the first photo opp, even though by this point I was starting to look a little like a drowned rat, as I’d been pouring water over me in an attempt to keep cool.

London Marathon 2014

All the time we were playing dodgems, trying to get around people and at times we were definitely slowed by the crowds. In Surrey Quays, one guy ran right into the traffic island marker and took a very bad fall right in front of us, Angela helped him up (and then he did the ‘I’m OK’ and just limped on. I noticed there were lots of crowds around the shopping centre, assuming they’re combining their day out. And all through the earliest parts, heaviest crowds were round the pubs. I didn’t take any of the beer that was been offered though 🙂

At Tower Bridge and I definitely had a emotional moment, very close to crying, but got through that and made sure I was smiling for the camera. At this point, I was definitely starting to feel it, half done, another half to go. It was time for another gel, which I was taking every 4.5 miles. The hips were starting to get sore (although they were fine at the end of the race) and from about mile 16 my arms and legs were basically pins and needles and there were times when I could not feel them properly – not a nice feeling at all! From about mile 17, my ability to sport gaps and move into them had started to go and I got stuck behind people a few too many times. From here, Angela switched from running with me at my pace to encouraging me and keeping me going!

I was having to dig in now and mental goal changing from finishing in a time, to just finishing. The heat was getting to me, I was feeling sick and pins and needles were getting worse. At 20 miles I did 30 secs walk and that was to try and shake some feeling back into the limbs. That then became the pattern for the rest of the way, it was my mental reward for making the mile. Saw the family again at mile 22(ish) and there was no pause for photo, it was a matter of keeping going! On and on, with more more people walking or trying to stretch out cramp. you could just feel the determination and grit to get to the finish here. The Blackfriars tunnel was good, loved the Lucozade balloons.

Onto the final stretch, the Embankment. I’d run along here a fair bit during training and now it was just full of people rather than cars, a far better picture 🙂 Everything was focused internally now, keep going, keep going, one step at a time. There was nothing in the legs at all, no ability to increase the pace. Although looking at the Garmin, I was moving faster than I thought! The last 3 miles were run at a pace of 10:33, 10:45, 10:45 which is still faster than my LSR pace, it just felt a lot slower. It was all about the mind games. 1 mile, it’s the run to Kew Bridge, 800m, it’s 2 laps. Round the final corner, wash hoping the sight of the finish would give me a boost, but no, nothing. Plod, plod, plod. Tried to raise arms for camera, nope, not happening. I’m still pleased with my final time though, 4:30:10 is pretty good. And I completely smashed the others from work 🙂

Through the finish and the everything stopped. The legs didn’t quite want me to stay upright, so Angela and a friendly marshal supported me until I convinced the legs to work again! Timer chip cut off, medal collected (oh yes, I LOVE that medal) and bag collected. OMG, the walk to the end of the mall to get into the park, then the queues and crush to try and get somewhere. All I wanted to do is sit and have a drink and stretch out. Finally out, drink, snack, change the shoes as my feet were so sore! Then met up with Malcs (and others, I can’t remember!), and he and Angela made their way to the pub and I went to meet the family at the Help for Heroes meeting place, which was a welcome haven. Quiet, a seat, food, drink and a massage on the legs. I also got a second medal, as well as a round of applause as I walked in 🙂

London Marathon 2014

My first marathon done, a wonderful experience even with the pain. So what could I do differently?

  • Don’t get injured! I missed about 4 weeks of training, at a point where it was high mileage and a lot of running on tired legs. So when I hit that in the race, I had no experience to fall back on.
  • Think far, far earlier about my race pace – and don’t change plans! I’d trained at 10m/m but given I wanted that as an average, started off quicker. Would I have finished quicker if I’d started off at 10m/m and then still slowed, I don’t know.

So what am I going to do now?

The goal for the summer is to build on my speed, with the aim of bringing my half time down as far as possible, Sub 2hrs should be pretty easy (I hope, but let’s see where I can get to) So I’m going to join in the local running clubs Speed work evenings – and hopefully get some coaching on form as well

I’ve got 3 halfs booked for September, with Ealing being my main focus. I’ll be running through the P&D plan for that. And I intend to keep the mileage up over the summer as well.

London Marathon 2014