Sunday, 26 April 2015

London Marathon - Never have I ever felt so shattered after a race

2012 was the last time I trained for and lined up for the London Marathon, and I knew the amount of effort required over a sustained period to achieve my result that year. I'd say that it takes a dedicated build up of at least 4 months to really do the marathon justice and so all those 35,000 odd runners lining up on Blackheath today have all approached that challenge in their own way. As I mentioned in my previous blog, that 4 month build up is what I've been working towards since January.

Given my recent form, I would expect a 2:21 time to be on the cards. However why aim for 2:21, when its so agonisingly close to that 2:19:59? With this approach, my race plan was to go through halfway in 70 minutes and hope that I would feel good enough to negative split to a sub-2:20. On the start line, I was concerned about potentially blistering in my shoes, the impact of having bashed my quad on the banister in the morning, and recalling just how painful those last 5-6 miles can be; all little things that you blow out of all proportion. However, one thing was for sure, I would run my own race, try not get carried away early on and aim to keep a metronomic 5:20 per mile. As expected, the start was fast, I went out steady and soon found myself weaving in and out of the field to find some clear road. I settled in a group with Alex Milne (going to halfway) and Stuart Spencer of Notts AC, however the third mile of 4:58 made me put the brakes on and I was happy for them to continue ahead off the road. At 5 miles, Dean Lacy came alongside and I continued to run with him for the forthcoming 10 miles, trying my hardest to keep to that 5:20 target. Mile 9, at the renamed 'Buxton Water', was for me the high point of the race, with unbelievable crowd support, including my family, friends and club-mates helping to contribute to an incredible wall of noise. With the crowd support, knocking off a 5:20 mile seemed relatively easy, and was far contrasting from those quieter parts of the course around the Isle of Dogs. At this point, I felt sufficiently fresh to high-5 my sister and to really appreciate the spectacle that is the London Marathon.

We continued along Jamaica Road, over Tower Bridge and on to half way. Whilst still ticking along at a fair pace, this was by no means comfortable and I began to question for how long I'd be able to hold it together. Despite going through 13.1 miles at 69:42, I knew then that a sub-2:20 was out of the question, as there was no way that I'd knock out another sub-70 given how I was feeling. I began to become a little concerned about how hydrated I was and so made a conscious effort to take a few sips of water at each one of the coming water stations. Whilst on the subject of nutrition, I took no gels throughout the race and I think I had sip of Lucozade early on, otherwise it's water all the way.

As we went through the nightclub-esq underpass at Westferry Circus at 15 miles, Dean began to drop off the pace and it was then me and the watch to try to keep on track. I was beginning to feel the impact of the quick pace we'd run early on and, by the time I'd reached Canary Wharf at 19 miles, I was beginning to tire and was starting to have little appreciation of what was going on around me. However I did know that I was still on track for a pb, had broken the back of the race, had other runners ahead of me to reel in and was now heading straight for The Mall, so I may as well get my head down and finish this!

Along The Highway, I over took a couple of runners and was content in knocking out a consistent 5:30 miling. Once I was on the Embankment, it was familiar territory and synonymous with the run home from work and was counting down the time to the end; 10 mins, 9 mins, 8 mins....etc.. I had Big Ben to aim for and, despite being 50m behind Stuart Spencer, he was helping keep my pace going. As we turned in to Birdcage Walk, I had no appreciation of the time, I just wanted to get this race done. Finally, The Mall came into sight, along with the finish line. I made an attempt at throwing my arms in the air, but my body was in pieces, my legs were screaming and I have NEVER before felt so fatigued at the end of a race. It was over, I'd broken my pb with 2:21:46 by well over 2 minutes and finished 28th overall. Job done!

Serpentine Running club packed well with Dave Morgan, Jonathan Poole, Rich Phillips, John Franklin all finishing within 2:27, and other notable performances from the Battersea Thursday sessions including John Gilbert in 2:18 and Andy Lawrence 2:29.

I now need a rest, my legs hurt, I'm tired and now will focus on my next challenge of the year: Ironman 70.3.

I have to thank all my friends and family who came out to watch and support today, and help contribute to make the London Marathon such a great event. At the moment I am a little apprehensive to 2016, but it'll hardly be surprising if I change my mind....

MileTimeCumulative time


  1. What's the 70.3 goal? Smashing worlds in Austria?

  2. Thanks Ryan. That's the plan, to qualify in Luxembourg and then do the Worlds in Austria

  3. Ace. If the marathon was 28 miles I might have been a bit closer to you! Great running fella.

    1. I think you're right. At the switch back at 20 miles, I saw you looking strong and I certainly felt in pieces at that point. I wondered whether you might have caught me along the Embankment and, given a couple more miles, you probably would have. Top run for you.

  4. Great running Andy, Just curious why you didnt take any gels, I am sure some sugar would have helped.

    1. From past experience, I find the gels don't sit in my stomach too well and are therefore not worth the possible boost they may give you from the sugar. I don't train with gels, and so am reluctant to try something new in the race.

  5. Ok, I see. If you dont mind sharing what did you eat in the morning be4 the race?

  6. 2 Weetabix. I had a decent lunch of pasta the day before and some sandwiches for dinner. But I prefer to race as light as possible; that works for me, might not work so well for others

  7. Well done, huge achievement, I've never forgotten your determination from our days on the Swiss "project", Best, Janine

    1. Thanks Janine. Now 2 weeks on from the marathon, the running break is over and its time to think about the next race. Hope everything is going well with you. Andy