Little Runner Gal

Running, eating, sleeping and all the bits in between

Race Review: London Marathon

on April 30, 2015

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The London Marathon. The 2nd of my 2 marathons in 2 weeks.

After listening to my body through the Limbo period between Brighton & London marathons, I’d done everything I could to prepare for a decent result.

My aims going into the event:

  1. Another sub 3:45 – having never done 2 marathons so close together, I had no idea how my body would perform. Rest, nutrition and training between the 2 had all been a bit of an experiment. But I knew I could run a sun 3:45 marathon so maybe I could do it again.
  2. Negative splits – I’d proved I could do this too, a new thing for me! So to have a strong 2nd half of the marathon would be ideal, however the pace was going. If the time wasn’t an option, then a comfortable race would be.
  3. Sub 4 hour finish – that would still be very respectable and, coupled with the above and the below, would mean I’d come to London and achieved what I felt I needed to.
  4. Have a great time – overall I wanted to enjoy the London Marathon this time. Last year it was painful. I didn’t achieve my target, I didn’t remember MOST of the sights and the wall was hideous!

So, as Scott left me at the blue start, eating my ritual breakfast, I had the familiar 3:45 and 3:50 finish pacing bands on.

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Somehow I’d wangled a start in pen 4. The 3:30 pacers appeared…now I definitely knew I was in the wrong place! But I had no intention of following them so it was fine.

The race started. Predictably the start was a slow jostle of people, but I’d already said I’d give it a few miles to find a decent, comfortable pace.

Both the runners and crowds were fantastic. We quickly merged with green start and then red just before the 5km timing mat. The atmosphere was great and I was loving it.

At 5km I saw my friend, Abby, on the timing mat, and crossed at 26:37, then further on saw club mates on the 10km timing mat and crossed at 52:55. Pace remained good.

I made a point of remembering Cutty Sark this time! And taking in all of the support.

I was looking forward to seeing Scott at mile 9 but we missed each other. Mum and Gemma would be at mile 12 so it was fine. My pace remained pretty steady. Just how it needed to be.

At 12 I saw Mum and Gemma, then Tower Bridge, which had me smiling instantly. The crowds were deafening. I ran past Denise Lewis interviewing a runner on the bridge and shortly after passed half at 1:51:54, only seconds different to Brighton.

But this was feeling different. I had a stitch type pain under my right rib. I never get stitch when running. It had been creeping on for a few miles and it was starting to become a case of WHEN rather than IF it was going to affect my race. I was soon to find out.

Miles 16 and 17 I slowed right down. The stitch type thing had me feeling like my lungs were shrinking. The amount of air I seemed to be getting in was rapidly decreasing. My legs wanted to run, my lungs wanted a break. Having never had this happen before, it’s usually the other way round, I had no idea what to do.

I finally saw Scott at 18 miles. “Are you OK?” he shouted. “No!” I replied! Not much help but I really wasn’t OK, and I was at the rather ‘honest’ stage of pain.

By 21 miles my pace had slowed right down to almost 9:30 miles. As I feared, it had been a case of WHEN rather than IF and I was well and truly right in the thick of the WHEN stage. 22 and 23 slowed down further. I didn’t even have the energy to check the pacing bands, but I knew I was well off. 3:45 had gone, the negative splits had gone and I was far from enjoying this.

I saw Scott once more, and then Mum and Gemma. I remembered to take in the Houses of Parliament. I promised myself I wouldn’t have flashbacks of last year, but I did in that final mile. The pain was identical, and I wasn’t moving fast. I was being passed by so many people. I felt terrible. The only saving grace, I kept telling myself, was that I hasn’t walked a single step. I’d never stopped. I had, however, finished, on about a 10 minute mile pace. For me, this hadn’t been the plan.

I crossed the line. Stopped my Garmin. I didn’t want to look at the time. My watch had done some crazy auto-pause around Canary Wharf so I didn’t know how accurate it would be. The finish line clock had said 3:55:something. I’d crossed the start line, full of hope, just under 2 minutes after the start gun so I was pretty sure I’d snuck in a sub 3:55. No negative splits, very little enjoyment and now, I was being held up by a very lovely finish line volunteer while I gasped to get absolutely anything into my lungs

1 out of 4 aims attained.

1.3 if you count remembering to see Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge and the Houses of Parliament this time!

Meeting my friends and family afterwards, they were so proud, but at that moment I couldn’t feel proud of myself. Maybe it was because I’d had such a great run at Brighton. As I said at the beginning of this (what has turned out to be) epic tale, I didn’t know what was going to happen. But somehow it hadn’t been enough.

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Consequently I have a lack of photos, which I regret.

Now I’ve had a few days to think on it, I managed 2 sub 4 marathons in 2 weeks. Sub 4 was my dream, and I’ve done it twice in 2 weeks.

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I feel a lot prouder now.

Here are the grizzly facts. They don’t help my view of the race!

Results results 2Results 3Ever the optimist (despite what the above might suggest!) I’m determined to take away something from this experience so here’s what I’ve learnt about myself during this:

  • I wont be doing 2 marathons back to back again! I know plenty of people that can, and do. A great runner at my club even did better at London than Brighton, and he tried hard at both. But I don’t think I’d do it again.
  • I’ll never walk! Despite knowing my lungs weren’t going to keep up the 8:30 minute miles, I didn’t walk a step.
  • I’m probably too hard on myself. I need to set more realistic goals in order to ensure I’m not so disappointed.
  • There’s always new things to go wrong! I’d worried so much about my legs I’d neglected the recovery of my lungs. Something I’d never experienced before. So that’ll be in the recovery plan from now on.

So, onward and upward.

“What’s next?” they ask….A HOLIDAY!

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Catch up soon!

LRG x

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8 responses to “Race Review: London Marathon

  1. Amazing run! 2 back to back marathons is no mean feat – many congrats! I found London difficult this year. Last year was my first London Marathon, I went in with zero expectations and it was one of the best days of my life. This year I had time goals and higher expectations, and as a consequence I did not enjoy the whole experience not nearly enough as last year. But anyway, like you say, onward and upward! But 2 sub-4 hour marathons is amazing.

  2. whoops, meant to type *not nearly as much as last year*

  3. Anna says:

    Don’t beat yourself up. It’s a tough course and you ran a marathon so close to this one. I think you’re awesome 🙂

  4. Jimthelaw says:

    Great write up Sarah . You did brilliantly

  5. You should feel very proud. Two marathons is brilliant, two sub 4 hr marathons is even better.. And not walking can sometimes be the hardest thing in the whole race…well done 🙂

  6. vicir1 says:

    Big congrats! You had one fab run, one not so fab run. Yet you kept going even when the going got tough. I feel similar about my London experience, it was awful at the time and I’m bitterly disappointed that something that I’d not considered going wrong went wrong. BUT, there are always positives as you say. Having done 2 in 2 before, I agree, never again! Enjoy your well earned holiday x

  7. Well done! Two sub-4s so close together is fantastic!

  8. Great work! I ran London this year too – don’t think I could have managed another one as close to it as you did though!

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