Monday, April 14, 2008

2008 Flora London Marathon

04:51:27 was not quite the 4:45 I had targeted, still under 5 hrs, and I honestly feel like I gave it my all. Mary and Graham gave me the benefit of their experience at the Expo, but didn't tell me how hard it would be!

The marathon started out great above Greenwich, sunny and happy with kids lining the streets wanting us to touch their hands, bands playing - it felt like a Carnival. I wished I had made an effort with a costume, but not the heavy dog one guide dogs offered! I ran too fast and did not take walk breaks in this first section, it just felt so easy and fun. I realised I was way ahead of schedule and needed to make a bathroom stop - but the queue was horrible, so I lost any advantage. Then again, I really did not have much choice - it must have been the excitement and Lucozade I drank before the start, but fortunately that was my last bio break.

And I learned another marathon fact - the ambulance people who are holding out their hands, are not looking to shake yours - they have Vaseline on their hands! (for chaffing I guess). I inadvertently got a handful I had to try to get rid of - Yeach! And the first Lucozade stop was an unexpected experience - my shoes stuck to the ground!

Then the rain hit about mile 10 and the people lining the streets looked a bit grim, just trying to pick out their loved ones. I really felt sorry for the runners who didn't have a jacket! I saw one guy in a g-string with a chain around his neck that looked miserable! Fortunately, I had tied a light jumper around my waist - but I almost didn't (for fashion reasons!) because it was so nice at the start. I started walking through some of the water stops about this time, but I was surprised how few people were taking walk breaks. My frugal nature did not help me either - I really struggled to throw the bottle of water away after a few sips. So I carried one bottle through 3 water stops until I decided that was just a stupid waste of energy. But such a waste of all those plastic bottles!

I tried to text Billy to check where he was while I was running and I dropped the phone - ARG! People were remarkably nice as I took a dive for the phone in their path! After the sun came back out , I spotted my husband and daughter, which perked me up and they were able to open up the packets of shot blocks I carried that I couldn't open because my hands were too cold, and help me mix up Hammer "Sustained Energy" to avoid Lucozade. Shortly afterwards I had to give up on using my Garmin for pacing as the GPS signal was lost in the tall buildings of Canary Wharf, so I just ran on and on, not knowing how fast. Strange limbo feeling - I checked my pace on my Nike+ a couple of times, and it was about 11:00 or so, but I always struggle with calibration so I don't really trust it.

Then somewhere out in the endless Isle of Dogs the rain and hail came back. Putting on that wet jumper was not pleasant, but I wasn't as frozen as most of the runners in just little vests and shorts. The headwind wind and hail were brutal!

High points were the cheers across Tower Bridge which were deafening and coming up from the underpass under the Embankment was great, with the London Eye and Big Ben in view. I never felt like I "hit the wall", but those 2 last miles seemed to take forever. I really did not want to run anymore, but knew that the only way to stop was to finish, so I just put my head down and pushed ahead, but it was tough going, weaving through all the runners who were now walking.

I was so relieved to finish, but no one warned me how painful it is when you stop running!! I was so glad to see Billy when I got out of the secure area and he'd found a friend who offered us a ride home in their car. Bliss. I felt so sad for people who finished without anyone to greet them who had to struggle home on trains. I didn't have dry socks or a dry shirt in my bag (idiot!) but my down parka felt great.

It was great to be part of such a big event and the fanfare even if running a marathon was a lot harder than I had anticipated. I'll stick to nice fun half marathons in the future, and buy stock in ibuprofen. Never again, but I guess I said that about childbirth too.

I looked at my Garmin split times and they are junk, because of the poor reception, but the 5k splits from the chip times show the following pace 09:56, 12:16, 10:47, 10:35, 11:25, 11:22, 11:25 and 11:05. First too fast, then too slow with bio break, then slowing in the hail and rain and finally settling in to an 11 min pace for the end.

What an experience!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

One week to go. (aarg!!)

Back in London after a glorious beach week in Marathon(!!?) Florida with the in-laws. A pretty lazy holiday - beach, pool, fishing, eating out, reading and messing about with laptops, with day trips to Key West and the Turtle Hospital. I can't imagine how people run during the day in Florida - it is so hot and humid... even fishing and diving seem strenuous. We did all our running before 8am!

It is hard to re-focus on the big day. I feel like a slacker cutting back on mileage as I taper.

I'm having some pain in my Achilles after runs so I've been icing and I taped down the heel tabs on my shoes. I hope it does not become a serious problem on race day.

But all in all, I feel like I'm ready! I've had great emails from Tory, Mary and John Ellis regarding race strategy and my plan now is to run my own race, ignoring the pacing groups and run a 10:40 pace on my Garmin. I'm going to try to skip the walk breaks which I've used in my long training runs, but may resort to using them if it gets really tough. I understand it snowed last weekend in London while we were away... I hope next weekend is not too cold, but that's better than too hot, I guess!