I’m not going to lie, London was a bit frustrating for me. I knew I was capable of running sub-3:30. Unfortunately, the course was pretty congested around me, particularly with the Guinness World Record fancy dress attempts, which had to be negotiated at the start, and never really cleared until around mile 23. This meant that it was hard to keep my rhythm as spaces in front of me suddenly closed up. The warmer-than-forecast weather also didn’t help me as it meant I had to take on water at every opportunity.
Everyone talks about the atmosphere at London and how great it is but, at times, I found it overwhelmingly loud. Turning into Isle of Dogs we went through a narrow street with high walls either side and the noise was deafening. I spent a lot of the Isle of Dogs close to a Guinness World Record attempt of two people dressed as a Jamaican bobsled team, and they were getting a lot of cheers, but the sudden loud noises and high-pitched screaming was distracting for me when I was trying to push as hard as possible.
The Isle of Dogs was where I had my first properly dodgy kilometre, and I can’t remember anything in particular as to why. It was just hot and sunny, there was nothing much to look at and it was still too early to be counting down the miles to go. All of a sudden I had run a 5:30 kilometre instead of a 4:55. I had another dodgy one just as I came onto the Embankment and that was the sub-3:30 gone. I was still determined to put in as good a time as I could, so kept pushing as hard as my body would allow. I was pleased with my time (a nine-minute PB, and a Boston qualifying time as well as a good-for-age time) and am content that it was the best time I could achieve on the day. I have unfinished business with the course though, and will be back next year with a better understanding of what is ahead.
After a long walk to collect my bag, a (not so) quick change and a ponderous walk back to the tube to get back to the hotel, I had a lovely hot shower and caught up with the results from everyone I knew who was running. I then headed out to meet up with the rest of my clubmates, both runners and supporters, to hear their stories and we ended up in a fab little curry house on Brick Lane. I also ate my first Easter egg of the year, having postponed it until after the race.
From a running perspective, the Big Marathon Challenge has given me the confidence to trust my body, and to push it further. I’ve had a blast and have had a great time sharing the ups (and the downs) with Claire, Katie and Leah. I have loved following their stories and we’ll be keeping in touch.
I have a couple of 10Ks planned for June to see if I can capitalise on the marathon training. I’m going to see if I can get a London Marathon championship qualifying time in a half-marathon (which would give me a less congested start next year), so will be spending the summer working on my speed before attempting a series of half-marathons in the autumn. Whatever happens, I am hoping to stay injury-free and make another attempt on London next year.