Monday, April 23, 2018

London Marathon 2018

London, England. Sunday 22-April-2018.

The story can now be told...

I entered this year's London Marathon under a cloak of invisibility! I had said to all my friends that the Brighton Marathon 2017 was a "once in a lifetime" opportunity to sponsor me. When I did not *run* the entire Brighton Marathon I was so disappointed (extreme British understatement). I *only* ran 22 miles, walked the rest and jogged across the finish line. How can I now go back to my friends and ask them for sponsorship for a second marathon?

This time I took the approach of "under-promise, over-deliver". The plan was that only after I ran over that finish line would I send out that begging email. And, heaven forfend, I failed to run the entire distance or fail to hit the money target I would make up the balance myself. Beforehand I had told no-one other than those who explicitly asked if I would do another marathon - I cannot tell a lie. Unfortunately I did not deliver.

I failed to complete the London Marathon basically because I made the beginners' mistake of starting off too fast. I went with the 5:00 pace runner to prevent this but she set off too fast. I made an error of judgement and kept up with her instead of dropping back and running my own pace. I burned too much energy too soon, went wobbly at the 18 mile mark and was steered to the nearest St John's Ambulance so I could collapse and throw up. Not fit to walk the remainder, I took the sensible option and retired.

I cannot ask for sponsorship for something I didn't do but if people would care to make a donation to Blue Cross that would be very much appreciated. Blue Cross animal hospitals and pet care clinics provide free veterinary treatment to sick and injured pets when their owners can’t afford private veterinary fees.

You can do so via my Virgin Money Giving page.

Thank you to all my friends for their support and encouragement.

The full story:

Before last year’s Brighton marathon I did 35 training runs totalling 259 miles. This time I did 61 training runs totalling 454 miles! Practiced taking in isotonic gels every 5km. Practiced a slower, consistent pace. Best fit time prediction: 4:54:42.

Best fit graph of all 61 training runs

This year I went with the 5:00 pace runner instead of last year's 4:30 pace runner. Still not enough. Again caught out by the heat and the pace at the start (the latter an error of judgement on my part).

My last two experiences of pace runners was that they were metronomic and a great way to keep the right pace. The London Marathon pace runner set off too fast. She did the first 5 km at 6:41min/km, equivalent to a 4:42 marathon time. Eighteen minutes faster than the target. Same again for the second 5 km that included a couple of individual 6:16 minute kilometres which is a 4:25 marathon - way too fast for me and the heat of the day.

The third 5 km she did at 6:49 min/km, equivalent to 4:48 marathon. As I said before, my mistake was keeping up with her. After the first couple of km I should have said to myself, "Sod this for a game of soldiers. It's too fast. I'll drop back and plod at my own pace". Emotionally though, the pace runner was my lifeline, to drop back I felt I would be all on my own, no support.

This is me in the yellow baseball cap just behind the pace runner at 7 miles, near to the Cutty Sark.

People say how great the London Marathon is, what a wonderful day, how much they enjoy running it, a fantastic event. For me it was a horrible day. All I saw was the heels of the pace runner, all I felt was discomfort as I ran too fast. I was mostly oblivious to the crowds, I did a few high fives but mostly didn't have the energy to spare to acknowledge the shouts of encouragement from the crowds.

The organisation of the marathon is fantastic however not so good if you have to drop out. It took ages for Mary to find me and a nightmare to retrieve my bag of belongings.

At the end of the day my sentiment was "If today were a fish I would have thrown it back".

So what are the positives?
  • Money is being raised for a worthy cause.
  • I suppose I must be fitter (but I don't feel any different). 
  • I now know the answer to the question I posed three years ago, "How hard can it be to run a marathon?".

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