After a couple of days of reflection, I thought I would write down what happened on Sunday. Hopefully it will prove useful in the future, and I can learn from mistakes I made and come back stronger for Chicago.
Got up at 6.30 and met Rob for breakfast. I’m sure the restaurant isn’t usually that busy that early on a Sunday morning. Had a bowl of muesli, the same as last year. Don’t like to eat too much as I end up feeling a bit bloated.
We left the hotel at 7.15, took the underground to Charing Cross station and got a seat on the 8.00 train to Blackheath. Arrived at the race arena just after 8.30 after a routine, stress free journey.
After the toilet saga of last year, there was a plethora of portaloos for our use, which meant no queues. And we were able to shelter from the heavy downpour in the changing tents. I did a little bit of jogging and a few leg swings to warm up, but the plan was to use the first couple of miles to really warm up.
Start – 10k: 37.41
The race plan was to run the first mile in between 6.05 and 6.10 and then use the downhill section on mile three to catch up back to an average pace of around 6.02 / 6.03. Got it absolutely spot on, and went through 10k right on target.
10k – 20k: 38.05
The section around Cutty Sark is really noisy, that gave me a nice lift at the start of this section, and there were a lot of spectators lining the road through Deptford. I knew that Emma, Mum & Dad were going to be somewhere around 9 miles so was looking forward to seeing them. Just caught site of Dad, and then took on my first gel. It didn’t seem to do any good.
It was on the approach to Tower Bridge that things started to feel like they weren’t quite right. Just a nagging in my head telling me that this was feeling harder than it should have been. But still on target at 20k.
20k – 30k: 39.06
Over Tower Bridge and through the half in 79.55. Still on for 2.40, but I would need to have a strong second half. Even if I slipped a bit, I was still well on for a pb. But I wasn’t feeling good. I was feeling the way I should be feeling at 20 miles, and I was still a long way short of that. Breathing was short, chest was tight, and I felt like I kept needing to clear my throat.
Got another lift seeing the cheer squad as I came out of the tunnel at 15, and then got myself in a good pack through the first part of Canary Wharf. I managed to maintain a pretty decent pace, although I could feel myself starting to slip back. Took my second gel, again it seemed to have no impact.
30k – 40k: 43.54
Went through 20 miles in just under 2.04, which was a pb and a minute faster than last year, but it was all starting to come apart. As the miles slowly ticked by, my pace just dropped and dropped. I wanted to stop and curl up by the side of the road. I’ve never had that feeling before, and I hope I never have it again.
I don’t think I handled it that well mentally either. Probably could have tried harder to push on, but at the time it was all I could do to keep going.
40k – 42.2k: 10:17
Saw my parents at 25 miles, and just shook my head. Dragged myself down Birdcage Walk, and finally crossed the line.
Really emotional when I finished, but the complete opposite of last year. Instead of extreme elation at what I had achieved, it was extreme disappointment. The marathon is a cruel event. You put all your work and effort into one race, and I was unlucky enough to have a bad one.
But then when I found out what time Rob had done that was just amazing, he had put in so much hard work and dedication and fully deserved it. A top 40 placing is awesome.
I guess it seems an easy excuse to say I had some sort of bug or infection kicking around in my system, but in hindsight judging by how I felt on the easy runs last week, and how I feel now, I’m convinced that I wasn’t 100%. Training had gone to plan, and I felt in better shape than I did last year. I also stuck to my race plan and didn’t go out at a stupid pace.
So now I’m thinking about how I best use my fitness levels to run a good 10k and half time before I start to build up for Chicago. Hopefully if I can maintain a good base level, then I’ll already be ahead of the game for that.
But for the next couple of weeks it’s time to kick back and enjoy myself. I believe I may also have a relay run for Sunday! That’s right, an orienteering race…
And finally, and most importantly, a massive thank you to everyone for their support before, during and after the race. Especially to Emma, who somehow puts up with me.