Disastrous London Marathon

I did the London Marathon yesterday, my second Marathon (both London). Last year i finished in 4:41 (ITB injury hampered my training so i was just happy to get around). This year i finished in 4:22.

Prior to the Marathon this year though, everything went right. I trained well, did a lot of long distances, followed a training programme with my running club, injury free for the majority of my training. As a result, my target finish time was 3:50 (goong by my timing for other long distances 21, 22 miles...)

I was on course for this, but i threw up at mile 19, made it to mile 21-22 then i got pins and needles in my face, so painful, stopped running and fell in to some other runners. They helped me to the stewards who then helped me to the ambulance. I spent 20 minutes there. They told me i was tachycardic and needed to rest. In the end, i had to run / walk the last four miles in agony. Most of that was in tears of dissappointment.

The only problem is, everyone keeps telling me how proud i should be etc And i am, i'm genuinely proud of myself for getting around. But they can't seem to understand how dissappointed i am as well. Please tell me that there is someone else out there who is genuinely gutted about the time they got for the Marathon??

This is my first post, so please don't tear me to shreds.



  • Congratulations Michael - you've done something that many people wouldn't even dare attempt. Of course it's frustrating when things go wrong, but completing in 4:22 is still a fantastic achievment, and an improvement on last year as well. Ok it's not the time you wanted, but much better to stop if you were tachycardic rather than continue and experience more severe problems further on.
    Good luck next year!

  • Micheal: OK, you didn't get 3:50, but it still a 21 minute PB. image

    Well done for finishing, sounds like a nighmare end.

  • So you had all that happen to you and you still got a 19 minute pb? That's pretty darn impressive, I think. In the cold light of day, I guess you need to think about why you threw up in the first place, get some answers and then get that pb in the Autumn. Did you get too hot? Take on too many gels / isotonics that you were not used to?

    Seriously, it sounds like a really good effort on a tough day. Well done for sticking it out. I don't think I would have.

  • stutyrstutyr ✭✭✭

    Well done Michael, I empathise as I felt the same after my first marathon.

    I ran VLM yesterday as well, and suffered towards the end which meant I missed my (admittedly ambitious) target by 15 mins.  However this time I wasn't upset, I knew I'd tried my hardest and done something most people will never achieve.  I reminded myself that this time last year I was still unable to run following knee surgery - so to have made it there & completed the marathon was the big achievement, whilst hitting my notional target time would just have been icing on the cake.

    Focus on the positives, and think what you could do better next time (e.g. was it the heat that affected you).  The marathon is a difficult beast, and even some of the best prepared runners suffered yesterday. That's part of the appeal, and what makes us all come back to try and conquer it again in the future.


  • Thanks guys, that's pretty much what i needed to hear. I think when i'm speaking to people who aren't runners themselves, it's hard to believe what they are saying because they don't know how it feels.

  • the sun and heat threw me and with hindsight a revised target may have been sensible. I drank too much, took gels which I hate, needed the toilet and watched my goal slip away from halfway......

    sounds like you hit the wall with a thud but there are lessons to take away and hopefully experience will help you when faced with the same in future. Glad you were able to continue - I felt so sorry for people who had to drop out completey.
  • I can relate to that! When you've had a bad run and people (non-runners) keep telling you that it's better than no run at all and that they never would have been able to do it!

    But I really feel for you, it must be terrible to experience, especially during a race. Just to pick yourself up and try again next year. The thing that I've found all runners have in common are determination and a refusal to give up. This will only define you as a runner!

  • You beat me. I went in with an outside target of 4hrs, but ended up 4:33. 

    First half went well. 2:02, so not too quick, but when I got into Docklands it all fell apart and I ended up walking quite a bit. Picked up a bit towards the end. 

    In a bad way shorter and slower than my training runs. 

    Not sure if it was the heat (which I hadn't trained in at all) or linked to the massive bruise I now have behind my knee. 

    But then I learnt no-one cares what time you get and after 10 pints, neither did I. 

  • Other comments have already been positive so I will take the opportunity to be a bit negative here. I ran the Paris marathon a couple of weeks ago targeting 4:00 but came in at 5:11!!!!! I had trained A LOT so was also super dissapointed. Same thing, people said I should be proud but I'm not at all. Only solution for me (and maybe for you) is to try again. ---- happens...

  • What went wrong anders ? There must be a reason ?
  • Yes, well to be fair on myself I did had a fever, was contemplating not running. Ran on panadol extras the whole way and have been ill since then.

  • Michael, there'll be lots of people gutted with their time but they tend not to be the first to post about it on the forums. Have a look through the results and compare half times with finish times - there'll be a lot who slowed down a lot more in the second half than you did.

    Anders, so you're disappointed that you got ill, not because you ran like a muppet or hadn't trained? Not a lot you can do about that, always a risk when you have a big target race. Best solution is to enter another one.
  • GerardMGerardM ✭✭✭

    Anders/Michael I can't imagine how you must have felt. You both showed immense courage to finish and I'm sure this won't deter you from doing another one. Your experiences puts things into perspective. I ran my first ever marathon yesterday and was aiming for sub 3:15, my training went well apart from the usual niggles and fatigue. Had horrible cramps in my calf muscles on Saturday and was nearly a non runner. Managed to finish in 3:29 and was disappointed but on reflection it was a memorable experience and we runners should all be proud as we put ourselves on the line and push our bodies to the limit. Live to run another day and we will come back more determined and stronger from our personal experiences.

  • FreemersFreemers ✭✭✭
    Michael - your time yesterday is almost identical to my first marathon. Like you I was aiming sub 4, had a good first half and a nightmare second (for different reasons and luckily it didn't involve 20 minutes in an ambulance). It put me off trying again though for quite a few years which I regret.

    Yesterday, my 6th marathon, I ran 3.16. Just saying...think positive and you never know what you can achieve.

    Also put it into perspective. If you hadn't had that 20 minute enforced stop you'd have been very close to 4 hours...so you know you have the pace for it. Just need things to go right for you on the day and you'll nail it image
  • Mr PuffyMr Puffy ✭✭✭

    image image

  • I finished so I suppose that's all that really matters.

    Ran my last 2 marathons back in September 2012, both in around 3h35 (PBs in both).

    Got injured after changing shoes to some Nimbus 14s and never really managed that much in the way of training after that so a good 4-5 months of doing very little.
    Managed a few "long" runs of just over 8 miles / 1hr and a handful of 5-6 milers, with peak weekly mileages of 27 miles (twice) about 3-4 weeks ago,

    Started off slowly and hit the halfway point at 1h57, some 20 minutes slower than in training - not easy finding space to get any sort of pace so just plodded along with the flow.
    Took water on for the first time at 14 miles or so and after that it was pretty much walk/run with too much walking that decimated my time.  Seemed to lose a lot of salt and legs were cramping a bit although to be honest I should have pushed through it more - quite capable so too much of a defeatist attitude from me rather than lack of ability even after little training.

    Second worst marathon time for me (nearly every dodgy time I've had has been in April followed by May!)



  • Hi Michael,  like you I was targeting under 4 hours, after finishing dead on 4 three years ago; Sunday became a struggle after 20 miles and I'm sure a lot of people will testify that their strategy went out of the window, possibly due to the radical change in temperatures we have been training in.

    The disappointment doesn't stick with you for too long, just serves to drive you on again and you will get that time.

    I'm slightly the other way on as I ended up run/walking between 20 and 23, but managed to finish in 3:57 - still think I could do better though, so the fact that you spent those 20mins away still means that you are not a quitter and better than you might be feeling right now.image

  • Fucking hell! You threw up and spent 20 minutes in an ambulance and still got 4:22!

    Next time you won't throw up and you won't need the ambulance, you'll smash 3:50.

    This is just fuel for the next race. When you've recovered, pick yourself out a nice marathon for later in the year or next year and go for it!

  • I can feel your pain.  I had a really bad race, my first ever and I predicted it would take me 5:05 max but was hoping for a sub 5.

    I was going well till about mile 11 when my knee started to play up (a pre existing injury flared up). I made it to mile 13 which by this point it was painful I ended up having to stop at the first aid tent every 2 miles until mile 21.  I ended up walking a couple of miles and finished 6:19.  I was in agony and absolutly gutted with my time.  My training had been going well apart from a few blips but so so gutted with my first marathon.

    My knee is now swollen and needs attention.  

    I said never again but I feel I need to do it one more time to prove I can do a sub 5.

  • PG3PG3 ✭✭✭

    I think endurance/distance events can be a learning curve for both  your mind and your body.  The more long stuff you do, the more you are likely to think 'only 6 miles to go, come on, i can do this' rather than 'omg, it's another 6 miles' and i think your body gets used to racing for a long time also.

    To answer the OP's question, if you put a positive spin on it, you got a massive PB and you had to spend 20 mins resting.  Like others have said, next time you wont need that 20 mins.

    We also all need to accept that sometimes our body has good days and sometimes not.  You have to hope that you wake up on race day on a good day.

    Looks like you need to find another marathon to enter image

  • I personally never really think about 20 miles + 6.2 miles.

    I tend to think of "once I get past 16.2 miles, mileage wise, it's all single figures from there on which is pretty much a medium length training run".

    Long run wise, haven't done any in a couple of years.  Used to run 18-22 milers every weekend but then dropped back to maybe 4-5 x 8-10 milers a week (35-45 miles generally with no tapering) and started to improve (although I'm inconsistent but mainly state of mind).
    Before my last marathon at Loch Ness, I'd run Moray 4 weeks before and got a 3h35:30 PB there and it was fairly comfortable.  3 days before Loch Ness, I went out for a run in the evening and ran 10 miles in sub-1h09 which was one of my fastest times.  Then an easy hilly marathon - could have been 5 mins or so faster but stopped for the toilet at 23.xx miles (should have held on as I wasn't that desperate).  Ran that on a mouthful or two of an Innocent smoothie at 5:50am, "half a Go Ahead bar before the race (9:50am) and a couple of mouthfuls of water after my toilet stop)

    Pace makers do help me a lot to be honest.  During Loch Ness, I tailed a girl for a large part of the race who was running at my comfort pace.  Moray had me chatting to some people whilst running along at a good pace as well.

    London is too variable what with people weaving in and out of outs, shoving you aside, constantly hitting people doing 12min/mile pace etc.  I find that difficult to run in as I can't get a steady pace sorted out and constantly changing doesn't help.


  • I had a similar race to many here at London on Sunday, good first half, then struggled from about 15 miles.  I finished just behind you in 4:23, which I am pleased with as it was my first marathon, but at the back of my mind I know I could have done better.

    What is keeping a smile on my face is the fact that we beat Iwan Thomas and Kelly Sotherton, both Olympic athletes, and both who also found it a struggle. I was walking behind Iwan for some of the race, and could see that he found it tough.

    I hope that helps you come to terms with your time. Well done, you will come back stronger.


  • Personally I don't think any of us really had a disastrous day.

    We all finished and that's the most important thing.
    Sure there are disappointments where we didn't run as fast as we should have, got injured or felt bad, spent 5 years of entering the ballot to do nothing spectacular at the end of it etc but as said, we crossed that line along with 1000s of others of all abilities.


  • You need the occassional disaster to properly appreciate the triumphs.

    Learn from it. If there are things you can control and do better next time, then do it, If there were things outside of your control, accept it and move on.

  • SesamoidSesamoid ✭✭✭

    Michael, I know how you feel and although you get all the "well dones" etc, it doesn't help! I was just plain stupid though, London was my 2nd Marathon, went off at sub 330 pace (was aiming for 330 - 345) but was far too fast and did the usual mistake of trying to make up lost ground at the start. All my training has been done at around 0 - 5  degrees so I should have straight away readjusted my goals at the start due to the heat but I was feeling confident, even though I had missed a few weeks of training due to illness.

    Wheels came off around mile 13 / 14 when I was desparate for the toilet and couldn;t get out anywhere, by the time I saw the loos I was in a bit of pain. Got out and started running again then leg cramped up and I knew I was in trouble. Ran walked till the end and hated every minute of all the well meant encouragement as I knew I had fecked it for myself and was giving myself real abuse all the way round - sorry kids! Got in at 4 hrs 7 minutes, promptly collapsed and was wonderfully treated by the medical staff on hand who managed to get me back on my feet after a 20 minute stay in the white tents, I did manage a laugh when I fell out of the wheelchair though when I hit a bump on the way to the tent as it was just so surreal.

    Lessons learnt again though (thought i would have learned from the first one!) but now they're really learnt and I just think it takes a few Marathons to learn and understand all the pitfalls the Marathon gives you. As everyone else says, you put it down to experience. I now need to readjust my goals to go for more sensible target for next one next year. So yes, I feel exactly like you, totally gutted but taking it all on board for next year when I do it again! Good luck! PS - I have a 1/2 in a month so determined to smash that PB to make me feel better about things!

  • Thanks everyone, this is what i needed to hear. I have too many people around who struggle to understand the disappointment of not achieving your goal for a race.

    Obviously i'm not the only person who had a bad race, but it's nice to hear others have had days like mine and come back stronger. Instills a little more hope in me.

    So, i've signed up for another race. Kent Roadrunner Marathon. Probably not too glamorous, but may be what i need to build my confidence back up.

  • PG3PG3 ✭✭✭

    MT - I did the Kent Roadrunner last year as i was supposed to do Edinburgh and got a stomach bug a few days before so had to pull out.  I did the KRR as it still had places and I wanted to get something out of my training.

    In many ways, it's a great race.  There is no congestion and there is a nice feel to the race.  The organisers seem to go out of their way to make sure it's good for everyone.  The course didnt suit me as it does have a hill on it, it's not huge but it does start to hurt.  I was glad I printed off one of the race organisers pace bands as my garmin measured .5 mile too far which I guess means that i made a bad job of taking the racing line (there are lots of corners).  Good luck.

  • Michael, I understand your disappointment but you should still be really proud. That's a time I could only dream of. None of us really know how we are going to perform on the day.

    Last year I was doing a 10k double lap race. I started off and felt so ill that half way I was about to give up. My team mate kept me going but at the end I was crying so much I just couldn't stop myself. I honestly don't know what had gone wrong but a couple of weeks later I managed another 10k and flew round. I do a lot of league races for a local team and every now and again I have a bad one. Don't let it get to you, I think you did great. Took me 5.43 to get round image

  • Michael, just about everyone at my running club had a fantastic day, beating their targets, setting PBs and raving about what a great event it was. I, by contrast, had a terrible time after halfway, my hamstrings tightening up at about 17 miles, reducing me to a walk/run thingy by 20 miles. 20-24 miles is a blur, and I was so zoned in on myself I missed 11 members of my extended family screaming at me at about 23 miles. I think I was delirious, but recovered just enough to jog the last two miles and come in at 4hrs06. I'd adapted a 3hr30 training plan for a more realistic 3hrs40, but the last four weeks or so were disrupted by injury. I'd run 20 miles twice in well under three hours, however, so I felt I could still come in well under 4 hours. I'm not quite sure what happened. I didn't go off too fast, and my halfway time was a manageable 1hr50 or so. I got done in around Docklands. Some people mentioned the heat, but I didn't really notice it to be honest. It was either just one of those days or maybe, at 50 years old and with only two marathons behind me, I was being unrealistic about my time. I DID manage 3hrs46 in Abingdon last year, so I don't feel it was. It feels like a failure and that feeling will take some time to wear off, though I know I'm being unfair on myself. I was still only a third of the way down the field, so I don't feel too bad. Marathons and me just don't hit it off. Shit happens.

  • Peter - if you ran 20 miles twice in well under three hours then you'd raced those runs. SLOW it down. Don't go into the race leaving your best times out there in training.
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