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This was to be my 6th London and 9th
marathon. I don’t need to talk about the training which went bang on,
particularly coming straight off another perfect campaign for Dorney.
The target was 2.49.xx and I felt that my 2.51 in Dorney was
completed at an almost canter that sub 2.50 should be achievable. Additionally,
a 1.18 half late May suggested even by then I was a bit fitter than Dorney. I
was also conscious that people had, had problems using Dorney as a GFA for
Berlin due to AIMS issues so was keen to at least be sub 2.55.
Race week was quite relaxed in terms of nerves, I was more
excited just to be going back to London. Work was ridiculously busy last week
which may have been a help to take my mind off the race.
I travelled down Friday lunchtime alone, did the expo then
met up with my family who travelled after the school day. Usual ridiculous day Saturday,
walking 9 miles around the history museum, but in turn two decent sleeps in a
hotel room which was unprecedented.
Carb loading I scaled back from some of the OTT efforts of previous
campaigns and just ate carb dominated main meals and topped up each day with a maurten
320 as a snack. Having one of these pre-race, I am not really sure significant
carb loading is necessary.
Sunday morning I did my usual walk from Holborn to Charring Cross,
got to the start, did my bits then got to the front of the pen ready to go. I
watched in envy as the champs and v40s went off in wave 1, engaging in
discussions with others around me as to our frustration with being in wave 3, one
guy going for 2.35. I saw a clubmate who has always been much better than me
but now the gap was closed. We had a quick embrace and he asked if I was going
for 2.49. I said yes and he said we will stick together.
We were off at 9.36 and so was my clubmate, so much for the
plan, however I wondered if we might cross paths again later that morning. Plan
was to go through half way at low 1.25 then slowly build from there. Within a
mile I was hitting the back of the v40 group, however things were still
relatively clear but I was fearful as to what awaited at the mile 3 merge. My
main observation was that the blue start definitely has more downhill in the
opening 3m than the others.
First 3m came in at 6.34, 6.31 and then 6.20 for the
downhill mile 3 and 5k in 20.19 so bang on. The merge came and it was
ridiculous and extremely frustrating. I was permanently looking ahead for lines
and gaps and darting all over the place, cutting my pace, speeding up and so
on. Th effort felt right (probably due to all this) and I was becoming
concerned that I was overcooking it and kept trying to just ease back. The next
few miles came in 6.23, 6.22 and 6.26. As each one flashed up I bemoaned my
lack of control. The second 5k came in at 20.01. I was becoming increasingly
concerned by my GPS v mile markers. I am usually within 25 metres until Canary
wharf. Already by mile 6 I was recording just over 0.1m longer.
At 7m things opened up a bit and whilst there was still an undesirable
situation, it was manageable. I had a shout out from Lewis at 7m telling me that
I was bang on plan. I then saw a clubmate who was in the v40 start ahead of me.
Said a quick hello then moved on.
The following miles came in 6.28, 6.24 and 6.23 so sitting
consistently now at mid 6.20s. I saw a female clubmate at 9m who was in champs
and had a quick chat with her. The next 5k came in at 20.27.
OK, systems check as we head towards Tower Bridge. I am
feeling OK but definitely like this is my limit today, which is fine as sitting
here will still yield a pb. Onwards to the Bridge which is my favourite part.
Next few miles were 6.21, 6.25, 6.22 and 6.28 through to 13m. The next 5k came
in at 19.48 and through halfway on my watch at 1.25.10. OK, despite the extra
distance I believe I have covered, bang on 1st half target. Let’s
just settle here as mid 6.20s is enough for a 2.49.
The half way marker however set a bell off in my head to
ramp it up, just like I do in training and went off with a 6.17, 6.12 and 6.06.
I winced as every one of them flashed up and kept trying to pull back, but I
was in cruise mode now. The crowds had reduced, my mood less angry and I was
enjoying myself. The next 5k came in 20.02 (I appreciate there’s little correlation
between my numbers and the 5k splits). At about 14m I had a shout out from OO,
gave him a wave and ploughed on. A bit further along I saw g-dawg and had a
brief chat and was pleased to hear he was on target.
At 16m I saw Lewis again and he shouted out that it was time
to wind things up, I gave him a thumbs up and a nod as if to say, ‘I’m going to
fxxxcking destroy this now’. At about 17m I see my clubmate from the start pen
so he provides a nice little target and I cruise past him at 18m. I give him a
call and a wave and a smile, probably not what he wanted he was working hard
and I was in my peak of the day.
The next few miles were 6.12, 6.16 and then the Canary Wharf
madness of 5.08 and 5.06. The next 5k was 19.25 to 30k. At this point I started
doing my own sums working on 12k and 4 mins per k as my garmin was useless beyond
a stop watch. Coming out of Canary Wharf I was 0.7m off the mile markers so it
was a matter of ignoring the watch.
It was beginning to get hard work so it was let’s just get
to 23 at this pace then even if we sit at 6.30s we’ve had a good day. However,
I just started getting faster with a 6.08, 6.09 and 6.07. At about 23m I saw a
local speedster who won’t have been aware of my recent progress as he
unfollowed me on strava a year or so back (I probably wasn’t fast enough) so I
made a point of giving him a cheery wave and shout out as I passed by and a
thumbs up. He was completely done, shoulders gone and looked knackered.
The next 5k was 19.18 and suddenly I was into the final
complete 5k. I just set myself the target of getting through that big tunnel
and getting on the embankment as I knew once there I was home and dry. As I got
to each mile marker I did some maths based on dropping to 6.30mm so at 23m I worked
on 20 mins left and could see sub 2.50 was pretty much there, but I was fully
conscious that something could derail me at any moment.
I ploughed on with a 6.09 and 6.09 and was just astounded as
to where they kept coming from. The final complete 5k to 40k came in 19.16, my
fastest of the day and I was there on the embankment. At the 40k marker I knew I
was at worst 8 minutes away. Things were getting hard now, I was really working
for it, but I had the novelty of lots of space as I cut through the pack. Mile
26 came in at 6.13, but I still had way more than 400m to come. I was onto the
Mall and the 1k sign comes up and I think, just 4 minutes to hold on tight and
this is a nice well supported slight decline so it’s easy.
The signs start coming fast then, 800, 600, 400…. I start
moving a bit faster. I had no idea what my time might be as I hadn’t looked at
my watch since 40k. As we get to the final corner, turning towards the finish I
start opening up and the line comes remarkably fast. As I get towards it I give
myself a quiet pat on the back for a job well done, stopping the watch at
2.47.10 (official time 2.47.08). I was immediately peed off I didn’t go sooner
to go 2.46, but quickly lay that nonsense to bed! The final 0.9 on my gps came
in at 6.04mm and the remainder from 40k in 8.34 so 3.54per k pace.
I don’t for one minute believe I ran 26.9 miles as I know I
gained on the gps a good 2 minutes in canary wharf based on the splits so that’s
about 0.3m, however I do believe that first 7-8m cost me a good minute compared
to having a clear run, though who knows if that might have bitten me on the
I don’t really know where that 2nd half came from
and at half way never thought I’d run another quite aggressive negative split of
1.25.10 and 1.21.58.
I am not sure how I can top that, though equally I thought I
had, had the race of my life in Dorney and also London 2019, so never say never
I guess! The gains will no doubt be harder to find going forwards.
As I walked down the Mall I saw SBD and we had a good chat,
and I was delighted to hear of his time. Great then to meet up with g-dawg and
OO plus family for a beer.
A nice month off anything of intention and 10 days in
Lanzarote pending. I then have the Derby 10m mid November. I might not be at my
peak but I feel sub 60 should be on. That’s followed by a 5m race mid December
to finally bank a sub 30 and I also need to find time to run a sub 18 parkrun,
with that pb having just turned 3 years old. That will then give me 7
distances/7 pbs in the same year. I am also unsatisfied with my recent 10ks (one
around an airfield in a storm, the other on a really hilly course) and want a
solid sub 37. Eyeing up the Leicestershire 10k the week after Derby.