Monday, 25 April 2016

London Marathon 2016 - Nearly a WR, Rio qualification spots up for grabs and silver for the team again

Going into this year’s London Marathon, my target was probably a little punchy, but there’s nothing wrong getting to the start line with a bit of optimism every now and then.

My build up had gone as planned: ticking off a number of Thursday night threshold sessions (these are generally running at marathon pace for 18-24k), shorter intervals with The Cottage Relocated on Tuesdays, and some pacey long Sunday runs around Richmond with Jonathan Poole. The majority of my racing this year has been on the country and I’d picked up a few good results on the way. Only my one half marathon at Cardiff was a little disappointing, but I wanted to put that down to the weather that day.

As the club runners lined up at Blackheath behind the elites, the introducer reeled off who was in field: Eliud Kipchoge (last year’s winner), Dennis Kimetto (WR holder), Wilson Kipsang (London record holder and previous WR), Kenenisa Bekele (previous 5,000m and 10,000m WR holder)….quite frankly an unbelievable line-up and no surprise of the quality of the race that was about to unfold at the front.  Amongst the top British runners were several contenders likely to achieve the realistic qualifying time of 2:14 (the requirement to gain selection to the Rio Olympics), and who would be racing for the top 2 British spots a short distance behind.

By 10am it had warmed up considerably and I set out at my planned 5:20 min/mile pace. It always takes few miles to settle down and I eventually found myself running with Neil Renault, a fellow 14AC’er and who I’d got exactly the same time as at last year’s London marathon. The miles weren’t ticking by as easy as I’d hoped and the north-westerly wind hardly helped keep to my target pace, but I thought a more conservative start was sensible and may well pay dividends later on and so was happy to runner a little slower.

At 15 miles
We reached halfway in 70:40 and, shortly after, we got to witness the elite women racing and then falling over each other on the other side of the Highway. At 16 miles I was overtaken for the first time in an hour and, at 18 miles, it felt as though the wheels were starting to fall off. That’s pretty early on in the marathon to start to struggle, but was a relatively short bad-patch and by 21 miles the physiological boast that I got running for home certainly helped pull me along.

At the Tower of London I passed 4-time Olympian and previous Parkrun record holder Craig Mottram. Kudos to him for having a crack at trying to qualify for a 5th Olympics and also for going on to finish the race when things obviously weren’t going to plan. Meanwhile, at the finishing Eliud Kipchoge was racing to victory just outside the world record in 2:03:04, with Callum Hawkins taking the British honours in 2:10:52 to guarantee selection for Rio.

Back to the Embankment and at 24 miles, I hit my usual lunchtime route and, helped by some sort of familiarity, my pace seemed to pick up a little. Millennium wheel…Big Ben...Birdcage…The Mall…2:25:17…job done. Although the time was quite a bit slower than I’d hoped for, I’m very happy with the outcome and its given me plenty to think about what went right and what could do with some tweaking in the build up.

As always, the support out there was incredible and great to race with a number of group who have trained together. Now I’ll have a few easier weeks before dusting off the bicycle and starting the prep for Kona.   
Thursday Battersea group - looks like JP, myself and Dave got team silver