What a race the London Marathon is! I challenge anyone not to enjoy at least some of it. That said, beach weather and marathons do not go hand-in-hand – the conditions were anything but enjoyable!
Thankfully I was better prepared than some, armed with salt tablets, plenty of carbs in the system (I’d eaten 22 bagels between Thursday and Saturday – surely New York Bagels is interested in sponsoring me by now?!?) and I was fairly well hydrated.
The gun went and we were off. I can never understand why so many experienced runners sprint off at the start. One runner was so hasty that he tripped the guy next to me who fell flat on his face. That was 10 metres into the race with 42,185 to go! Imagine how you’d feel getting up from that… Worst still that was almost me – one of these days!
I felt fairly relaxed setting out at 2h33 pace to start. However, by 10km I knew this wasn’t a race for personal bests. And to add to the difficulty, I thought it’d be really clever to run in my brand new Adidas Adios trainers.
So I spent the first 15km of the marathon wearing these in much to the disadvantage of my legs and feet. Seeing family (including a swift bottle handover performed by Sis) and a good friend (Bex) at this point was a timely pick-me-up. By halfway however I had slipped to 2h36 pace and after a good minute searching deep in my pockets for my second and final salt tablet, I realised this had disintegrated entirely because of the heat and sweat. It was around this point that I realised that any chance of a PB was well and truly off the cards. So I decided to enjoy as much of the rest of the race as I could.
And that I did! Having spent the first half trying to stay calm and not react to the unbelievable crowds, I started to go a bit berserk. I think I was also exceptionally high off the amount of sugar I’d consumed from the drinks and gels. I was throwing my empty water bottles up in the air, gesticulating to the crowds, I punched a sign that some mates made for me and in general, wasted precious energy. Was this a precursor to heat exhaustion? I hoped not.
Thankfully, I calmed down around 17 miles or had just exhausted myself. Seeing Hannah and her family and our friends on 19 miles was perfect timing when I was starting to tire. I promptly died a little death around the corner after keeping up these appearances.
The last six miles were not as terrible as I expected because I had paced sensibly at the start. And this is probably where I made most of my gains through the field who were really struggling around me at this point. I also saw Bex one last time just before the Embankment. As I turned past Buckingham Palace I still had enough energy to shout “Let’s make some noise” to the confused members of the public in the finishing grandstands. But thankfully they obliged and spared me too much embarrassment!
I finished in 2h41m24s which is over six minutes slower than last year yet I finished 172nd, 24 places higher. A better indicator than any that the weather was cruel. Although nothing was as cruel as the chaffing I experienced for the rest of the day, having not had the chance to change out of my running gear….. Never again!!!
A big thank you to all of those who I saw out there giving their support. It meant everything on a day like yesterday. It was not a day for fast times but in many ways what the marathon is really about, digging deep and reaching into the unknown.
A huge thanks also to Gavin Smith who has coached me for a very productive four years. My marathon time has come down from 2h49 to 2h35 under his watch. I will be working with a new coach for the next marathon build-up – more news on this soon!
And onto my next big target which is Berlin Marathon 2018 in September where I hope the weather is kinder and allows me to take my marathon running to the next level.