Sunday, 26 April 2015

London Marathon 2015 - so close to a PB!

Today began with a relaxed coach trip from Trent Park to Blackheath, arriving almost three hours before the marathon was due to start, but we had to get there before the roads were closed, and it was much more pleasant than the train.

I walked up to the Red Start, a fair trek, to find the site very quiet.  I found a marquee, stuck my headphones in and lay on the ground for a while, not quite dozing off.  The weather forecast had been looking bad and it did rain a bit while I was in the marquee, but after that it remained chilly and overcast, but dry for the whole race.  Perfect running weather!

I dropped my back on the lorry with about forty minutes to go, then heading towards pen 3 for the start.  Great atmosphere with so many people there.  I found the 3:30 pacers and crossed the start line with them, just a couple of minutes after the official start time of 10:10.  I had to make a real effort to hold back in the early miles, keeping myself to 8 minute miles, a little behind the pacers who seemed quick in the early miles.

The first three miles flew past.  This was new territory for me as I had run from the Blue Start on my first two London marathons.  Nice downhill at the merge point, now with everyone on the same route.  Chas caught me up, to my surprise as I was expecting to be faster than him and I was bang on 8 minute pace still.  The miles just kept falling away and I felt relaxed, not really trying.

At some point I remember thinking that I was now having to make a little more effort than I'd like to stay on my target pace.  After the excitement of crossing Tower Bridge I was surprised to pass half way in 1:46, a little slower than I'm used to.  I knew support lay ahead, seeing Claire and Arthur at 17 miles, lots of Trent Park marshals around 18 and more Trent Park supporters just after.

Around 19 miles I passed another Trent Park runner and said hello.  I think I was feeling good here but calf cramp was threatening, so I couldn't speed up as that would bring it on, but I couldn't slow down and drop below target pace either!  I passed another at about 23 miles.

Finishing the first London marathon
I felt stronger than usual in the closing miles but at the same time couldn't quite hold the 8 minute miles without cramping up and my 3:30 target drifted away.  A PB was my next target and I could see that was slipping but kept fighting for it anyway.  With a couple of miles to go, I knew the PB was just out of reach.

The final section along Birdcage Walk and onto the Mall felt much shorter than I remember.  I guess last time I was limping it and this time I ran all the way.  Someone grabbed my hand to cross the line and I finished in 3:33:09, just missing that PB from Brighton two weeks ago, by 38 seconds.

London Marathon medal
I don't think I could have run faster on the day.  I was slowed up in lots of places by the crowd, but I think I ran as fast as my fitness level allowed overall, so was pleased with my time.

Here is the route of my 79th marathon.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Scraping a marathon PB on the seafront - Brighton Marathon 2015

I set off too fast.  I always set off too fast!

I warmed up with a mile and a bit walk to Preston Park, along part of the marathon route.  It is a while since I've run a BIG city marathon like this.  Preston Park was swarming with runners and a lovely atmosphere.  It was cool and sunny and I had timed it to not have to hang around too long.

I found the 3:30 pacers in my starting pen, somewhere close to the start line.  Brighton has a separate elite start, so it is possible to get away quickly, despite the narrow first section around the perimeter of Preston Park.  The pacers weren't hanging about, setting off a bit quicker than I was expecting and stupidly I kept up with them.  An anticlockwise mile loop later, we passed the start line again, this time on the main road towards the sea front.  There were still many runners queuing to cross the start line!

I settled into a steady, easy pace, keeping the pacers in sight.  We looped around Brighton for a few miles and I spotted some Trent Park supporters, especially John with his megaphone!  Then past Claire and Arthur on The Levels, before looping back past them again.  I saw them but they didn't see me this time.  Through Kemp Town and out onto the seafront, heading East.  This was a lovely section, nice and relaxed running.  But I was going too fast, now ahead of the 3:30 pacers.

I had a chance to see the elite men heading back towards Brighton some way before I turned inland to Ovingdean, round a traffic cone and back the way I'd come.  The atmosphere was fantastic along here with runners now on both sides of the road.  Running back into Brighton was a bit emotional as I passed half way somewhere near the pier.  But now I could feel that I had gone off a little fast.  1:42 was a quick first half by my usual standards and I wouldn't match that in the second!

Another inland section took me away from the seafront, but with amazing crowds all the way along and so many runners.  This was another out and back section and I know I was flagging on the return leg.  After this section, there was about six miles left and I was suffering.  First, run West to the power station and then head for home.  All I could think about now was maintaining pace to keep on for a PB, but it was slipping away.

Heading back towards the pier I kept having to stop to stretch out cramp and was really wobbling, but I pushed on down onto Madeira Drive for what felt like a long run to the finish line, to scrape a PB in 3:32:31 (28 seconds faster than Jersey last year).

Brighton Marathon Medal

Brighton Marathon number and medal

Here is the route on Strava for my 78th marathon.