On the 3rd October 2021 I finally joined the mass start, after 889 days, to run the London Marathon. With the cancellation of the 40th race in 2020 I took part virtually (check out how I got on HERE). It has been a long time coming, and the first time I’ve ever ran the London Marathon in person in October, but I was so pleased to be on the start line.
I make no secret that I love running London, in fact this is my 10th London Marathon medal. This is the second time I have ran for charity, I have had one ballot place, one virtual race, and been an official pacer six times. When I knew I would be unable to pace this year I was disappointed as it is how I love to run London, to run with others and help them hit their goals. But I decided to focus on trying to achieve a PB, Boston Qualifier and Sub 3. I took the opportunity to raise money for Cancer Research and am so pleased to have raised over £5000. Thank you for all the support.
The London Marathon was my 1st ever Marathon in 2011, and today was my 90th Marathon (plus) race towards the 100 Marathon Club. Although I have ran many marathons; I was at the Berlin Marathon last weekend, and the distance is something I enjoy, the challenge of going faster and trying to PB is something I don’t do very often. In fact something I have only done a couple of times over the last 6 years. So I was very nervous leading up to this London Marathon. In May I was in good shape, running 11 marathons in 11 days I got a marathon PB just 10 days later of 3:07:07. At the time I thought I could have done better with more people to run with and better preparation. Unfortunately leading up to this event I haven’t had the best motivation and not done any speed training over the last few months, not ideal for my aims. But I still hoped my general fitness would see me hit my goals.
As always I got my kit ready the night before. I have been looking out for a racing shoe and wanted something with carbon to see what the fuss was about. I’ve now got 4 pairs to choose from (Adidas, Hoka, On, xstep) but I haven’t managed to put many miles into any of them in training. The Adidas Adizero Pro 2 have been broken in and so were the obvious choice for me. They are not much of a training shoe, but on the course they felt great. I’ve got one blister on a toe, but other than that my feet are in tact and the worries I had about stability were absolutely fine even with the twists and turns at London.
The start was very different at London Marathon this year. We deposited the kit bags at the expo rather than taking them to the event, and the waved start worked very differently. I understand the reason because of covid safety, and it was absolutely worth exploring a different way, but honestly I cannot see what difference it really made. The bag drop is usually very simple at London and something I always think is done well and effectively. Also the waves usually work well. Today we waited to start but the same grouping together happened at the start as it always would. With staggered waves it may have meant more space on the course, which may improve experience, but it doesn’t really mitigate the covid risk. The real mitigations come from vaccinations, testing and wearing face masks. So I felt completely safe at the start. The usual starts, pacers, bag drop at start, none of this would have increased the risk on the day, but would have potentially added to the experience.
For me, I was in Red Wave 1. I don’t usually run in Red so it was a change of route for me. Being at the front I got away quickly, and didn’t experience any delays with anything. The only thing I found a little odd was the Abbott World Marathon Age Group Championships seemed to place lots of runners in wave 1. Many who were looking to run much slower times. This adds to congestion at the start, and can’t be a great race for them. I always feel it is better to be running alongside others running the same pace. It didn’t hold us up at all, but just meant we spent much of the first few miles zig zagging around people, which I try to avoid.
I ran with Akram for the first half, and it was good to see Coach Kev out on the course. We started off strong and I was aiming for roughly 21 minutes per 5k. When I bumped into Kev at 10k I had been running for 42 minutes and he had been going for more like 45. He told me to slow down, so I eased back a little. To be honest, I wish I didn’t, and I wish I just tucked in behind him, as I think he would have kept me going. When I backed off a little it got busy and narrow on the course, and slowly he pulled away. I didn’t want to push too hard to catch him.
I went through half way at 1:29:34 which was perfect. I had started off at more like 1:28 pace for the first half which I felt good at, but eased off to stick to my plan, and managed to pull it off. It was feeling great, but at mile 16 my paced dropped about 20 seconds slower than it needed to. There were some tight sections and slight elevation, but nothing that should have impacted my pace. I spent the next few miles losing 20 seconds a mile, but still holding a reasonable pace. At mile 20 I tried to pickupthepace again and managed to hit marathon pace, but I just didn’t feel like I had it in me. I was really gutted as I so wanted a sub 3, but I had a choice, to push and potentially injure myself, or shoot for PB.
I decided to go for my 3rd target, a PB. And I am so happy that I have PB’d for the second time this year, and this time its a huge 2:28 PB. Until this year my last PB was London Marathon 2013, so to get my PB here again is great. Technically I hit a Boston Qualifier with a sub 3:05. However, unfortunately it is only 21 seconds under with a PB of 3:04:39. So for those of you that know, this just isn’t enough. If I had got a sub 3 I would have been OK. If I got a 3:02 I might have got lucky, but 3:04:39 just won’t be enough for me to get to Boston.
Am I disappointed? Of course. But to be fair, I don’t really think I deserved it today. Earlier in the year I think I deserved it, but the last few months I’ve not done the speed work. I still think I’ve got it in me, and London Marathon isn’t the best course for a PB. But today wasn’t my day. But I’m closer. I’m over 4 minutes closer this year than I have been since 2013. People keep telling me that all the pacing I do doesn’t help my own pace, which is very true. And paving Berlin Marathon last weekend probably didn’t help, and obviously added to the fatigue. But that’s what I enjoy, so if it takes me longer to achieve the time, and I can continue to drive the sub 4 #funbus then I will just have to be patient. But I will get that Sub 3, and I will get to Boston, hopefully soon.
Did you run London Marathon today, or anywhere else? Let me know how you got on?