Running race 2:44:28  26.2 mi (6:17 / mi)
shoes: Asics Gel-DS Racer VII
Race time 2.44.28, watch time 2.44.21. I made it. It was hot and hard and the last three miles really hurt.
So, the story of the day...
Woke up at 6.30 and looked outside to see a cloudless sky. There was the potential for it to be a warm one. Had a light breakfast and left the hotel around 7.30. Took the underground the Charing Cross, then the train (with one or two other runners!) out to Blackheath.
As the start arena came into sight, with all the trucks, banners, hot air balloons, giant TV screens and people, I started to get very excited and the enormity of what I was about to do started to hit me. I made my way into the Championship start area, which was quite quiet and relaxed, and found the other Hallamshire guys.
Before I knew it, we were all summoned and brought out to the start line. I stayed towards the back of the group, as I didn't want to get dragged off too fast. The gun went, I took the advice of Dave Harrison and did the first mile about 10 seconds slower than target pace, in just over 6.20. I got settled into a nice rhythm and by the end of mile three was just ahead of schedule in 6.13 average. This was also the first cheering spot for Emma and Clare.
I then just focussed on maintaining my rhythm, and not getting dragged into racing at this early stage of the race. Before I knew it, I had reached Cutty Sark at just over 6 miles, and there was great support with huge crowds even at that stage. It got a bit quiet between 9 and 11, but then Emma, Clare & Ant were there to give me a cheer and a boost.
Crossing Tower Bridge was pretty amazing, again with loads and loads of people. I was still feeling really good and I went through the half in 81.48, 52 seconds up on schedule. Going through 15 all was well, and I was running strongly. 20km to 25km was my fastest 5km of the race. I was up to 6.12 average pace.
All through my training, I had been preparing myself for the section from 15 to 19 through Canary Wharf as being the toughest. However, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, although the twists and turns took their toll and my average pace dropped out to 6.14.
I had also thought that once I got to 20 miles, the crowd, and the excitement of completing a marathon would carry me through the last 6. I couldn't have been more wrong. This was where it started to get properly hard.
I felt like I was slowing down a lot, but at the same time I was passing lots of other runners, which at least kept me feeling positive. By the time we reached Tower Bridge for the second time at just after 22, I was really struggling. I was looking at my watch far too much to make sure my pace wasn't falling off. The watch became a hindrance.
I just kept thinking that I had done all the hard work, all the long runs, and that I was fit enough to finish and get my time. 20 minutes left, 15 minutes left, 10 minutes left.
It was a great lift getting cheered by Rich & Louise at 25 miles, and Rich shouted at me to 'run tall' so I re-focussed on my running technique. I turned the corner at Parliament Square, where Emma was (but I didn't hear her) and onto Birdcage Walk. Got a shout from Joe Mercer somewhere down here as well.
Birdcage Walk seemed to go on forever, and I didn't even notice Buckingham Palace as turned onto the Mall. I could see the clock, and I knew I was going to make it. It was such an amazing and emotional feeling to finish, and also to have achieved something that you have worked so hard for.
But it's true what they say. The marathon is two races, a 20 mile one and then a 6 mile one. And the 6 mile one is a hell of a lot tougher!
Mega respect to Rob for an amazing time (and by all accounts a pretty 'explosive' finish), and to Andy P for a top run.
Finally, and most importantly, a massive thank you to all those people who cheered us on, especially Emma. Emma has put up with an awful lot while I've been doing the training, but has always been so supportive.
For those who like this kind of thing, my splits were: