A few days have passed after London Marathon. My only running has consisted of a few laps around the local Athletics track before coaching a club session. I’m pretty relaxed about not running though, think the recovery will do me more good than harm, especially given the MDS. I plan to start moving the legs again over the bank holiday weekend whilst my husband Colin inflicts some pain on himself in the Centurion Thames Path 100! I was signed up to this race and also signed up to do my second Grand Union Canal Race end of May, however I have taken the decision to pull out of both races and focus on some slightly shorter events instead.
Racing MDS took its toll, especially with a stressful lead-up to the race. Somehow, my body allowed me to finish before firmly stopping me running by giving me a very persistent cold. Therefore, the preparation for London consisted mostly of worries that I might not be able to run the race at all. However, a very short dress rehearsal with 2km at slightly faster than my intended marathon pace on Saturday afternoon before the race instilled some confidence. On race morning I felt the best I had since finishing MDS although not perfect. I accepted that sub 3 might not be achievable but I was going to have a go at it.
The one thing that I find annoying about the Championship start is the rigorous rules around clothing. About a page of them. I wore my club vest, had to leave my favourite X-Bionic shorts behind because they have two logos on them and settle for an old pair of classic loose running shorts. My Compressport calf sleeves had to be turned inside out due to the size of logo. Once that faff was over with I clipped on a race belt with some gels.
Off we went at 10:10 and I felt ok. Mark Kleanthous had given me a few tips on how to overcome running on tired legs and with a cold and they seemed to work incredibly well. I fell into a comfortable pace which was slightly faster than the intended average marathon pace without going crazy. This was my fourth time running London and I know that you can’t trust the distance on your watch. You should expect it to be maybe as much as up to 43 km which means you have to run a few seconds faster per kilometre to reach your target. Hence I made sure to give myself a small margin in the bag and I felt like I could pull it off.
Typical pattern in a Marathon I find is that you feel great and fresh the first 10km, still pretty good the whole first half and then you start to wobble a bit around 30km. This is where the race starts. This is where, if you haven’t taken on enough fuel you will notice it, where your head will tell you that it’s hard and everything hurts, and where even the slightest road bumps will start to feel like mountains. Luckily I know this and was prepared. I managed to pull through it and as soon as you’re past 20 miles it’s easier because you can start the count down in single figure kilometres.
I made a couple of mistakes with fluid intake in the last 8 or so km. I skipped a water stop intentionally thinking I could get Lucozade at the next where to my disappointment they only handed out gels. I grabbed one for later, tucked it in my bra (handy gel storage place!) and forgot about it. I then somehow missed the next water stop and when the Lucozade station finally arrived I felt like I was back in the desert! Contrary to any advise I would give anyone else I gulped half a bottle in one go. I was lucky to get away with it. I had a good boost and said to myself that I could do this. I was losing time now so had to be incredibly focused. I was out of gels but only a few kilometres to go. With about two still to go I was pushing hard. Although I thought I would make it I had this terrifying thought slipping into my head that I would be one of those runners who hit the wall with two hundred metres to go. I then remembered the Lucozade gel. I forced it down (it was disgusting and sickly sweet) although it was probably too late for my body to absorb it. However, it gave me the mental boost and confidence I needed to push as much as I could to the finish and I made it i 2:59:13! When I crossed the line I was walking on clouds. Two weeks after winning the MDS I managed to pull a sub 3 marathon out of the bag.
I’m now excited to be going to the Compressport Trail Menorca Camí de Cavalls mid May where I will be racing the 86km course (TMCS). I’m looking forward to some coastal trails after the unforgiving terrain in the desert and the roads of London. Hopefully I’ll be recovered enough to have an enjoyable race. More to follow soon on plans beyond May but I will still be at GUCR as a crew member.
Ian Corless TalkUltra Interview Episode #86
Reflections on London Marathon & What's Next