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Stratford 10k is a good fast race. The last 3 miles are the same as the last 3 miles of the half.
As much as I want to get this 3 hour monkey off my back, I am not sure the way my summer is panning out I could really properly do an Autumn mara. I want a bit of time off the constant avoidance of socialising as well.
I am debating doing the Dudley-kingswinsford 10k next Wednesday, just to get a 10k time on the board and to make my legs go a bit faster.
London Marathon 2018
So this was to be my 5th marathon and my 4th
London marathon. The year didn’t get off to the greatest of starts with me
picking up an injury during a 10 mile race on New Year’s Eve. Consequently all
of January was spent on the bench. I did still manage to run 70 miles but
swapped the vast majority of it for spin classes. It was getting to the point
where it looked like my London ambitions were going to need some serious rethinking,
then suddenly the injury was gone, probably just in time.
I picked training back up pretty quickly and February
and March were my two highest mileage months to date. Unfortunately I didn’t
have a great deal of luck with my tune up races with snow falling on the
weekends of both my key races. This was followed by what would have been a
successful half marathon in Liverpool had the organiser not cocked up
measurement of the course in trying to incorporate some enforced route changes
and left it 0.25 miles short. Finally the weekend but one before London I did
manage a parkrun pb of 18.21.
As I entered my taper I was feeling well placed for my
planned sub 3 attempt. I tried this at the Birmingham in October and got it and
a number of other things very wrong and came in at 3.07. This experience
reminded me how hard a marathon can be and how important it is to not get
carried away in the first half because things feel easy at mara pace. One thing
I identified from Birmingham was my lack of in race fuelling, which amounted to
a few jelly babies. I resolved to make my body accept gels for London and so
gel training became part of any run of around 10 miles or more. I found it very
difficult at first but it soon became easier.
Unfortunately, the weather was not quite done with
ruining my races and from the earliest possible stage on the 14 day forecast
race day was due to be warm and sunny. Never in my life have I seen a specific
days weather be predicted so early on with such complete accuracy. It dominated
my entire taper madness.
The marathon weekend clashed with my sons 8th
birthday and so the agreement to me running was that we all go down to London
as a family on the Friday and on the Saturday (his birthday) it is all about
him and not me. Seemed reasonable! So we arrived in London Friday morning and
it was hideously hot. We went separate ways for much of the day as I went to
the expo. An early night Friday set me up well for Saturday’s usual fitful
sleep. Saturday was best described as sub-optimal in the circumstances. Another
warm day that was full with activity. My fitbit clocked me as walking nearly 10
miles over the course of the day.
So, the build-up was what it was. I was also slightly
concerned I had under done the carb loading. I had taken on board what Badbark
(don’t eat too much) had said and so made sure my main meals were carb based
and a few carb based snacks in between. I guess we would soon find out!!
I hate the night before the London marathon and the
battle to get some degree of decent sleep. But that came and went and soon it
was time to set off for the start. I decided to walk from Holborn to Charring
Cross and my wife drew me a little map. Unfortunately I got lost and ended up
walking around 35 minutes before jumping on a bus that was heading towards
Charring cross. I get there for the 8.29 train, somewhat later than the 8.09 I
had planned. Arriving at the start zone I started applying my various creams
and realised I had forgotten my f50 suncream!! After a short panic I find
someone who kindly lets me use theirs. Bag deposited, I find a toilet. This was
a much better arrangement than the green start with the toilet queue being a
matter of 2-3 minutes.
London in a while, so resolve to run at a competitive
pace and more importantly enjoy it. I decide 7mm is a good figure and keeping
the HR in the low 160s. If I can stay near that in the latter stages it may
just yield a PB. I had no expectation of that. At this point I relaxed
substantially. A moment later we were off.
The usual crazy first few miles with people everywhere
made it very difficult to hit a decent stride, but I didn’t care. Being on the
blue start there was the mini stand along the first 400m so that was my first
sense of taking the occasion in. The first few miles came in 7.03, 7.01 (I don’t
actually care this year, it’s close enough!) then mile 3 comes in 6.48 and
reduces my average pace to sub 7mm. I couldn’t believe how pedestrian the pace
felt and had to keep double checking I was in fact running at that pace. 7mm
also presented a very easy calculation at each mile marker. When the green
start merged with us this caused quite a bit of congestion and it appears like
we merged with the 3.15 pace of the green start which wasn’t great.
Shortly into the race I spot Madbee and tap her on the
shoulder and wish her well. I keep plodding away taking in the sights and
appreciating the event I was in. The miles tick by. Mile 4, grub time, gel goes
down nice and easy thanks to my practising in training. The next 3 miles are
relaxed coming in 6.51, 6.58 and 6.57. Right, Cutty Sark lets notice it this
year and wave for the cameras. Job done and on I go still feeling good.
I find that bit after the Cutty Sark to Tower Bridge a
bit dull, sort of like I’m in no-mans land. On I press. At 8 miles (time to
feed) the red start sub 3 pacer and his merry men come gliding passed me. They
all looked to me like they were working way too hard and I was glad I had
changed my plan. One of the followers was running completely bare-footed!!!
Anyway, after hammering passed me they don’t make any great progress after the
initial 100m gap they put between us.
The next 6-12 mile period just passed in an unremarkable
manner with splits of 6.55, 6.53, 6.56, 6.57, 6.54 and 6.52. By this point my
average pace was 6.55mm, HR was low 160s and frankly I was feeling better than
I had ever felt at any stage in a marathon. I knew though that the cumulative
effect of the heat would get me in the end.
With 12 miles done (another gel, lets stick to plan and
get them in early!) I was really looking forward to Tower Bridge. This is
probably my favourite part of the route and it really spurs me on. This was
also the first evidence of things going wrong for people. Going over Tower
Bridge put a smile on my face and I really absorbed the atmosphere. Up and over
the hump, time for the work to begin. Historically the next 8 miles to 20 has
always been my best period in London and so I have a sort of mental positivity
connected with it.
Mile 13 comes in at 7.01 (Is this the first sense of my
implosion I wondered) and half way in 1.31.28. OK that’s faster than last year
(by 12 seconds) but I feel much better. I tell myself the heat is going to get
me sooner rather than later.
After half way the regularity of people pulling up,
slowing down etc increased substantially. This just spurred me on as I was
cutting through numbers of people. The next few miles went well coming in at
6.55, 6.46, 6.53 (gel time) and 7.00. At about 15 miles a pacer comes into view
and is coming back to me. This gives me a focus and by 16 miles I’ve passed
him. It was the red start pacing looking spent. At about 17 miles I heard
someone I was passing say Hi to me. It was Literatin. She said she had binned
off any serious plans at 10k. A brief exchange and I ploughed on.
I needed to escape Canary Wharf unscathed. I was eyeing
my watch thinking, this is not what I expected to be doing (pb chasing) at this
stage! Next 2 miles were the first indication of the hard work to come with
7.06 and 6.44 (final gel time, I really don’t want this but I need it!). On we
go, head down now working hard. The numbers in front of me have dwindled and I
have plenty of space which is great. The next few miles tick by, as I urge
myself to keep it together, With 7.01, 7.11 and 7.08, I’m still at pb level,
this is weird!!
I just want to get to the Embankment now as frankly it’s
downhill and you are as good as done. As I enter Blackfriars (?) tunnel I hear
someone call my name and look up to see WJH. My legs are tired now and the lack
of focus on where I am going leads to a stumble. Mile 24 (7.32) was a battle as
there was still nearly 20 minutes to run. The gel at mile 20 was a step too far
for my stomach and I have a sense of nausea from about mile 22 and this was
My watch was causing me additional anxiety, watching my
pace slip away, so at mile 25 I turned the display off (and passed another 3
hour pacer). This may well have proven to be a crucial error, though mile 25
beeps up 7.12. I also pass the 40k marker and try desperately to do some maths
but I cannot perform the simplest of tasks. I just plough on wanting it to end!
Mile 26 comes in at 7.25. Before that, comes the 800m sign and someone calls my
name. It’s a mate from the gym who is marshalling.
I think, two laps of a track, that’s an awful long way
when you feel sick as a pig. Oh actually here’s the 600m sign, that means 400
will arrive soon which is just one lap. As I pass 400m I think how quickly the
last 400m had passed. As I come around the Mall passed Buckingham Palace
everything gets a bit much and I stop briefly as I think I’m going to be sick.
It passes and I go again. Into the final straight and I am overwhelmed with the
desire to vomit. I stop again and the crowd quite rightly point out that I should
keep going as I am nearly there. I am crippled however with dry heaving and I
can’t move. Some marshals come over and I explain I am fine I just need a swig
of water. They tell me I should get to the line as there is some there…
By this point I assume that minutes have passed. I
decide that the heaving is not going to stop and so resolve to just run the
last 150m with it, which was quite horrific. As I approach the line (50m or so
away) the clock is ticking on 3.06.xx and I think, yep blown a great chance
there. Then I remember it took me about 90 seconds to cross the line. I push as
hard as I can, all the while my body is heaving aggressively. I get there, stop
my watch and fall to my knees as I cannot move any further like this. Some
marshals come and try and get me out of the way. I beg for water and I am told
there is some in the goody bag. I move about 5 feet and get my head over the
side off the main start as I am concerned I may well vomit. Eventually a
marshal appears with some water and a few swigs and deep breaths and I am fine.
I did tell you this, I think to myself!
I finally look at my watch to see 3.04.46. Damn, 1
second off a Pb. Perhaps in the drama I didn’t stop my watch promptly. I
eventually get my bag and have a text confirming my official time is 3.04.45,
meaning that I have somehow managed to match to the second my pb time from last
year. According to RB results they class that as a pb and I won’t argue with
them. On a day like that I deserve to walk away with something!
With hindsight I am pleased with how I managed a day
when many, many others got it so very wrong. My 5k splits were 21.44, 21.42,
21.51, 21.35, 21.34, 21.32, 22.07 and 22.16, which perhaps demonstrates a more
consistent pacing than the mile splits do.
It was a training block that was filled with many
difficulties from injury and weather and whilst it is not the sub 3 I had hoped
for, I feel satisfied that I have been presented with a return on what I put
After the event, I made my way to The Chandos and could
see no-one there I recognised so hung around outside and just stared OO out to
the point that he had to speak to me. It was great to share a few beers with a
few of the people that have helped through what was a tough block of training.
I am yet to decide what is up next, but not sure
mentally I can take a 4th successive marathon training cycle. Plus I
feel that I need to mix my training back up and concentrate on perhaps a half
schedule to force along threshold etc and to better prepare me for a Spring
marathon next year. I’d like to think I can genuinely call myself an
experienced marathon runner now (I appreciate that in present company I may be
far from it) and that should assist me further my chances of a sub 3 in the
anyone that didn’t achieve their goal because of the warm weather. Why not just
book another marathon in the next month or two, so you’re not wasting all that
Rich I think you can do it, those are good times. And as you know this is the place where the experienced guys (and gals) hang out
Well I've booked New York- it's done so no talking me out of it. I've saved a £1000 by taking over the package of a friend of a friend who can't run. Then again it's cost me the extra flight for Mrs OO and £3000 for 6 nights accommodation- deep gulp. Well it's our anniversary in November and my retirement before, so I guess we can call it a double celebration. After recent experiences I'll not get my hopes up for a good time. Anything around 3:15 would be very good indeed. I'm concentrating on shorter distances over the summer so it will be a short campaign.
Good idea to rest Lorenzo. I was tempted last night by a club 5 mile race. I averages 6:30 pace which hurt a lot. Park running tomorrow.
Thanks, Birch. I am edging towards there being more to gain from not ploughing straight into another campaign and targeting a couple of decent halfs in September, then spending October and November building mileage and starting a mara schedule early December.
OO- It was the stomach issue that made an otherwise controlled effort run finish badly. If I could have held that off I would have galloped along the Mall and probably finished 20 seconds faster.
Nicko, yes and no in that dependant what start you were on we could infact have been several minutes apart from each other at a lot of times. Interesting prf who posts occasionally on the mg thread finished 1 position ahead of me officially, however he crossed the finish line about 2 minutes earlier than I did.
I made the mistake of viewing the finish line cam at home on Tuesday night on my 60 inch tv. Horrific!!! Equally so are some of the official photos coming to the line clearly showing me in mid heave!
I think there is a lot to gain from repeat mara campaigns. My purpose in doing an Autumn mara was to facilitate London this year. I have taken myself to the point in doing 3 back to backs where running 18-20 miles in training is no longer a big deal and I definitely felt doing that enabled me to pick things back up quickly enough in February after being injured. Had I not run an Autumn mara I think I would have struggled to build myself back up in the time available.
Excellent report DT. If you'd had Brighton weather you would have run 2:55. And if it wasn't for the nausea at the end you would have PB'd! Do you think that was just too many gels and sports drink or did the temperature play a part as well? If you're desperate to nail the Sub 3, depending on how well you've recovered from Sunday, why don't you try and get a place at Edinburgh at the end of May.
I'm all booked for NY Marathon OO - I've ordered good weather.
Great Report DT - an absolutely cracking run.
Gul - I haven't had chance to try out the backpack yet, I'm going to start running to and from park run in the summer so it will hopefully get some use then. Cracking mileage this week as well.
I love my finish line footage, cross the line with arms in the air then the final shot is me stopping and having a big shake of my head! Around 3.38 on the clock in the top right corner if anyone wants a laugh!