When I completed The London marathon for the first time last year I was sure the perfect nature of the day could never be replicated, the weather was immense, I was injury free, I ran faster than expected and generally had a wicked time. This year the lead up was completely different but the result was exactly the same, I smashed my time, the weather was epic and I had a blast, again!
Last year I didn’t have a specific marathon training plan but did lengthen my runs and spent the last couple of weeks resting up and preparing mentally. Having not run a marathon before, or even ran that far before, I had no idea what time to expect but I had given myself the goal of 2hr 48min (4 minutes per km). I managed 2 hr 43 mins, which I was told for a first marathon was impressive.
With my time from last year I could have applied for a place in the 2014 marathon but never looked into how or when to do it. I also had lots of other races to think about so thought to myself, no big deal, I’ll skip it this year. It was two weeks before that I started to regret this decision, the marathon is a special experience and not one to miss, even if you don’t want to race hard.
This coincided with a friend mentioning they had managed to get a spare place. He wasn’t 100% sure until he picked up his number the day before, so I was left on tender hooks waiting to see if I could run. The plan was I would run round with him taking in the sights at a more leisurely pace, this also meant I could keep my training up, not wasting any time resting beforehand.
Travelling to Greenwich on the Sunday morning I could tell the weather was going to be epic, full sunshine without a cloud in the sky, I had my sunglasses on and could already taste the cider I was going to re-hydrate with afterwards. On meeting my friend he said I was free to run whatever pase I chose, I stuck to my guns and said I wouldn’t race, I would stick to his pace. I’m not sure what made me but standing in a que for the toilets 30 minutes before the start I thought… I should race, so I did.
The only thing I needed was a couple of energy gels to get me to halfway where they would be provided from then on. Luckily on asking the lucazade table for some they said someone had handed some unwanted gels in earlier. Banging… I had two gels, set my Garmin to pace me at 3min 45 secs per km and headed for the start. I was going to smash it.
There was a lot of overtaking for the first miles and I found myself weaving onto pavements and verges trying to get past the crowds. The year before I was religious with my pace until the halfway mark and even refused to speed up so I wasn’t behind the guy in a mankeeni. This year I was more relaxed and when I was put in the same situation sped past Mr Mankeeni as fast as possible. This more relaxed attitude to pacing meant I was two minutes ahead of schedule at Tower Bridge, which is just shy of the half way mark.
I still felt strong and new from then on I could just empty the tanks. I gradually sped up eventually achieving a personal best for every distance up from 10km and finishing in 2hr 32mins 56secs. A great time and more than 10 minutes faster than the year before.
The training I have been doing must be paying off but I can’t help but think whether with better tapering and pacing I could have broken 2:30, I guess I will have to wait until my third marathon to find out.
Judgement Day next, I can imagine this will require 100% more sand bag carrying than the Marathon but can’t wait!