I felt confident going into this marathon. I knew I’d done everything to get myself in the best possible shape so all I needed was for everything to go well on the day.
I’d turned off auto lap on my garmin so relied on remembering to press lap at the end of each mile. Looking back over the data is interesting. Lots of miles measured long and I have a pace per m/m for each lap but not sure how this relates to my finished time.
The walk from the train to the green start gave me an indication of how warm it was going to be out on the course - so much for cold and rain!
I don’t remember the green start being so busy and I quickly got held up giving me my first mile in 7:50. This was fine and I was pleased I hadn’t gone off too fast. I’d already lost my reserve gel by this point when a big hole appeared in the side of my gel belt. I made the time up over the next couple of miles and reached the first 5k in 23:00. Almost bang on. I was determined not to get carried away and go too fast but it is difficult in some of the miles.
Hit 10k in 23:07 and was feeling comfortable. I had to keep a check on the garmin because I could feel myself being dragged along and often had to slow down a bit.
15k – 23:18 still feeling ok and starting to settle into a nice pace. I’d decided to take my first gel at 10m rather than the usual 14m as lots of others do. I pulled it out my belt and when I did the one next to it fell to the road. This would only leave me with two but by the time I realised I’d already open the one in my hand.
20k – 23:17 was it just me or was Tower Bridge quieter than usual? There didn’t seem to be the sudden blast of noise although there were thousands of people.
Halfway in 1:37.46. I knew this was spot on and I was feeling relaxed. I made sure I took a bottle of water at almost every water station having a sip and using the rest to cool me down.
I was looking out for my family at this point and spotted them just after mile 14. It’s always nice to see them and know the next time I see them it’ll almost be over.
It was also at this point that I was aware another of my gels had fallen to the ground, so this left me with one for the last 12 miles of the marathon. I decided to take a risk and took a lucozade one at mile 15. Yuk, but it did seem to give me an uncanny boost.
25k – 23:11 still feeling good at this point and still on target. But shortly after this I started to feel a bit crampy in my stomach. I was sure it would pass but a little bit of self doubt was starting to creep in.
30k – 23:50 by the time I hit the 30k I was aware that all was not well. I was battling to know what to do. Make a pit stop or carry on and hope all would be well. I started to slow and knew that if I didn’t make the necessary stop I was going to just continue to slow. Around mile 21 I made a dash for the portaloo and was glad I did. Nuff said! But, the stopping made my legs cease completely and I was worried I wouldn’t get going again.
35k – 25:49 I knew during the last 5k that 3:15 was definitely off the cards and but was still hopeful of the 3:17-18, which was really what I though was achievable. However, the pit stop but that in jeopardy. I took my one remaining gel and was surprised that my legs still seemed to work although not as well as before.
Not long after my stop I spotted a chap I know who was hoping for sub 3. It was obvious he was having his own battle and I drew level with him and we both had a bit of a moan. We ran together for a bit but his leg cramps meant he had to stop again. I saw the family again and this gave me another boost. Going through the tunnel I caught up with another sub 3 hopeful who was also going through the mill (although after running 3:20 in Boston in the hear on Monday it wasn’t that surprising!). Again, had a chat and ran together for a bit.
I got a bit of a boost knowing that at that point I was stronger than them although its not nice to see someone who is very capable struggling with issues beyond their control.
The marathon is a cruel beast. I was feeling the pain and my stomach still wasn’t right. I knew I was on for a great pb and just concentrated on trying to get sub 3.20.
40k – 24.40 the last mile or so was agony trying to push on. I got to the 800m to go and realised I needed to run that in about 3 minutes to get under the 3:20 and I knew this was impossible. I kept pushing to the end and finished in 3:20.40, which is an 8 minute pb. It gave my 330rd lady and 68th in my age category.
I was so pleased with this. At the end of the day we all run the very best that we can on the day and I knew I’d given it everything. If I hadn’t stopped for the ‘comfort break’ I might have been a few minutes quicker but I doubt in because the tummy cramps would still be there. If I hadn’t lost my gels and had to take a lucozade things might have been different but then it might have been something else.
This rounds off a brilliant running year for me and I’ve not regretted any of it (well maybe some of the 5ks). And, I’m looking forward to another year ahead because I still feel there’s more to come.