Last Sunday was the Virgin Money London Marathon 2019. As always, the event was a big deal: the expo was huge, and the crowds throughout the race were amazing. It was my big race of Spring and despite some muscle tightness during the taper, things were looking okay for the race itself. I knew I hadn’t done enough long runs, but sometimes life gets in the way.
My wave start time was the same as the elites – no pressure then! However I wasn’t allowed into my starting pen as it closed early, but managed to slowly inch my way forward to find my appropriate position based on various pacers.
Miles 1 -5 were fast, and I ran the first couple with a lady from a Wimbledon running club. At the Cutty Sark I was disappointed not to see my supporters but the crowds were insane, so that was understandable. On the course itself there were so many runners I spent a lot of time running around other runners. This would add.another half mile to my marathon!
The section round Rotherhithe is usually uneventful, but I was unexpectedly cheered on by some folk I’d only met the night before. Heading towards Tower Bridge I kept the pace up, psychologically thinking about the 13.1 mile halfway mark. Tower Bridge itself was, as always, a fantastic spot for the crowds. As I approached the halfway point I saw the race leader Kipchoge coming back the other way in a pack of four. Mo Farah was trailing minutes behind.
The section round Isle of Dogs was okay – my quads were starting to get heavy but the miles rolled by without issue and my supporters cheers me on to Canary Wharf. My Garmin always struggles in the Wharf so ignored my pace data and ran hard. However, coming out by Billingsgate Market at about 20 miles my legs were not moving as they should and my Garmin warned me of a serious drop in pace. I was annoyed that I was slowing down at the point that many runners hit the proverbial “wall”. It wasn’t a psychological or cardiovascular issue: my quads were just screaming with the impact of each step.
My heart rate dropped and I focused on adjusting my gait to get the most out of my stride and cadence. My hopes of a PB started to diminish, and I refocused on getting round in a respectable time. My mind filled with negative emotions, which I regret. At the time all I could think was that I’m in agony but I won’t get a PB.
In my mind I dedicated the 26th mile to my young nephew, imagining him cheering me on, and I sprinted the last 0.2 miles, because I wanted to leave it all out on the field. The result: no PB, but a course personal record. 18 minutes off my time from four of years ago. I was annoyed at the end, but when I turned my phone on at the bag drop I was inundation with messages of congratulations.
I suppose what I should take away from this race is:
- not every race will be a PB
- if the race doesn’t go to plan, make the most out of it
- do the long runs. In truth, I probably didn’t deserve a PB as I had missed a few long training sessions
- use any disappointment as motivation for improvement
- work on strength and conditioning. It was my quads that were killing me. Some S&C would have gone a long way.
- it’s still my second fastest marathon, on a very congested course, which is respectable
- I’m sore, but not injured, so I should just crack on with the next challenge!
The medals seem to get larger every year!
Keep training, and keep improving