A week on from successfully completing my first marathon, the Virgin Money London Marathon 2015, and I’m still just as happy as I was a week ago, and it will be something that lives with me all my life. I did have about 5 seconds after when I thought “not again” but I soon dropped that nonsense, entered the ballot and am eagerly awaiting the outcome of the 2016 ballot to try all over again!
It was the 35th London marathon. At the front the 3 fastest marathon runners of all time were racing each other, Paula Radcliffe was bowing out of London and Olympic hero David Weir (was I was lucky enough to meet and talk to at the VMLM Expo) was on the start line again.
Did I make it look “easy” or “comfortable” by managing pace and the race mile by mile? Yes, I probably did! I now really do understand why people say the event is the easy bit…it is the utter dedication and determination in the training that is the hard bit with lovely 18 mile wet, cold, at times very lonely Sunday long runs.
Tapering in the 3 weeks before started with nicely controlled “tapering” as run mileage and intensity both reduced and I worked on recovery and energy stores. In the last week, though, I seemed to encounter just about everyone with a cold as the famous pre marathon paranoia, or “maranoia”, really kicked in as the nerves built and I, like many others, worried constantly about something going wrong in the last few days – especially illness or injury! What was at risk was 565 miles of relentless, self-focused, hard graft training…many say that the marathon is the hard bit, it isn’t, it is the “Glory Day” when you get back what you put in. As long as you enjoy it too.
Early start 0616 train from Basingstoke packed with runners and supporters. Time for the iPod and some personal space. Another train to Blackheath and I was there…umm, into grey, cold drizzle! Rats! But, I was lucky as, thanks to the great folks from Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, L&LR, I could join their pre-race do and have food, drinks, warmth and great loos!
Off to the Blue start assembly area, drop the bag and await the start in a fetching combo of old throw away tee shirt and a see through L&LR disposable poncho. Yep, I cut a fine style in the portaloo queue…but I wasn’t alone. Indeed, some 38,000 of us were doing the same thing!
At 10:18:22 I was off and trying to remember all the advice. Mainly to (1) NOT go out too fast and to pace it right, (2) keep my head up – take in the event fully – and enjoy it! and, (3) get my form right and use my arms to reset tempo making sure my hips and pelvis were level.
To be honest, with careful use of water, Lucozade and carb gels (and not taking anything from the folks at the roadside) all three worked. It has been said many times that the marathon has two halves; the first 20 miles and then the rest. Once I hit 20 miles, I was feeling tired but hoping that I could keep up the pace in this unknown territory so I chose to ensure I finished rather than push any harder. I pretty well kept to plan athough my pace and form slipped a little on miles 25 and 26 down the Embankment that just seemed to go on and on and on! I had been aiming for 4 hours 10-15 mins and was and still am delighted with 4:12:57 with the potential to now tweak some things and improve stamina / form for the last 6.2 miles to go under 4 hours in future.
During the run, I really had enjoyed the whole thing and probably made it all look a big too easy at my cheering points at 11.5 and 23.3 miles where I not only accelerated to be far faster than targets for those miles but went by smiling and waving to show I was OK. At both, I was very lucky to have two cheering groups…first my own dedicated “cheering crew” who had lived every day of my relentless training giving me a fantastic lift. Then, at each place, just down the road were the supporters from the running club with another lift.
I wanted to finish as the priority, I did and in a time I am very happy with for a first time running over 20 miles. There is a great medal, tee shirt and goody bag but even more valuable are the memories as I was delighted that many of the people dearest to me could be there and share it with me…or, me share it with them?
By running for L&LR I not only benefitted from pre-event support and coaching but a post run celebration at Central Halls where, after a massive cheer that I just hadn’t expected, some food, a very welcome 20 mins leg massage and an even more welcome beer. Oh, and a wonderful feeling walking on carpet with no shoes or socks on!
A fantastic event and experience that couldn’t have been possible without a great group of people that each played a big role in the preparation and the day, who I trust with each aspect. There were my constant “running buddies”, Amy and Libby, some guys from the Club, especially Nick D & Adrian, my coach Ben from Full Potential, all the team at L&LR, Gary Turner…and my brill sports physio, Vicki at The Body Reset Clinic.
In an earlier blog I said “…just eight weeks to go to VMLM2015, and I absolutely can’t wait!” Well, I wasn’t wrong, I loved it, and absolutely can’t wait to VMLM2016!”. I know what it will take now with the kind of dedication, focus and sacrifice needed for “the hard bit” the training! Things will be different now as, before 2016, my “A” race schedule has a run of “firsts” this Summer:
- 24 hour solo endurance trail run, Endure24
- 50km Trail Ultra, the Salisbury 5-4-3-2-1
- Berlin Marathon
In my next blog I’ll talk about the recovery and the weeks after the marathon. Cheers, Mark