This is it, the preparation is done, I can only get it wrong from here not make it better. Nervy times. Last week of taper is when the mind plays tricks, are you ready? did you do enough? will you get round? My answers were yes, I’ve run 28.5 miles in the build up and I ran the pace at Compton 20 off road and with big hills, now enjoy it. This is the what the training plan looked like in reality.
The last 3 days were the worst as it was card loading 670g of carbs over 6 meals a day. I felt bloated and fat, normally I would run that off but in the taper you just can’t.
Mon: A fatigued and very easy 5miles which ended up being bang on marathon pace
Tues: No double today for the first time in forever. I ran the session alongside the harriers, of which both Simon and Sean were racing on Sunday and looking fast. The session was 12 x 200m fast which turned out to be 5:00 min/miles followed by 1 mile at marathon pace run too fast in 6:24. A thoroughly enjoyable session.
Wed: A relaxed and easy 4miles starting to feel fresh, not quite there but close. A trip to the expo later and I had all the kit I wanted and the marathon started to seem exciting and real rather than just a goal at the end of a training plan.
Thu: Carb loading has started eurgh too much food. An easy 3 miles with 3 x 150m strides along the banks of the river Yare in the morning sun, feeling ready.
Fri: Rest day
Sat: A very easy 2.5 miles around the village, I’m ready, if straining at the bit for tomorrow. Up to London for an overnight stay and in position for the morning.
Sun: Up early and the promised breakfast did not materialise, making do with cornflakes and honey and missing my much needed double espresso, I headed out a little earlier than anticipated. A 5 minute walk later I was at a closed tube station waiting for it to open, a further 10 minutes later and I was rattling across London, the train filling with fellow eager runners. After changing for Maze hill and the green start still desperate for a coffee, I fell into conversation with some Guinness World Record challengers in this case a two man canoe hoping for sub-5:30 and in fine spirits who made tremendous travelling companions.
Once at the start I met up with Jess and the Runners World Pacing team for a few last minute instructions and a picture before heading to the green start. Once inside I was inundated with questions about pacing and tactics, from both experienced marathoners and complete newbies, the odd celeb, new friends and old. It was magic to catch-up with Rosie and Chris two of the nicest people. After fielding many questions I was late getting my bag on the truck but thanks to the organisation there was a final truck along minutes later, phew! Once in the pen the cold and excitement were the two overwhelming feelings.
The gun went and we were off passing the start line 35secs later, I found myself with quite a following of around 100 runners all aiming for sub-3. The green start is narrow and congested limiting the opening mile to 7:08 pace, I let everyone know and that we would make this up over the coming 2 or 3 miles as we got into our stride.
From around 3 miles in we would stick to the same pace throughout of 4:16 per/km give or take 2 sec. The miles were flying by as we chatted away between ourselves in this large pack, bang on time at 5 miles and 15 sec up at 10 miles. It was here that I saw my family for the first time during a marathon, a superb experience to hear them shout me on. We sped on through to Tower Bridge and halfway making sure water was passed around the group to keep us hydrated. It was here a few had dropped back slimming the pack down a little and there was far less chat, I continued with the updates of where were were against time adding encouragement as we went. My least favourite mile, 18 came and went, unlike a few years ago it didn’t seem like I had run it twice. I still felt great and was able to take in the crowd hearing many friendly shouts, occasionally actually spotting who shouted, thanks Bushy and Martin. The pace was very consistent at 6:48 per mile, by mile 21 we were a minute up and going along nicely picking up new members to the group all the time. By the time 23 miles came into view we merged into a huge troop with the Blue Start pacer, Phil. Only a parkrun left and we were there home and dry. This is the loudest most atmospheric part of the course and I was having a ball as we ran along the embankment past Big Ben and into the Mall. The noise was wonderful as we sped along toward the finish line, Phil and I exchanged a high five before crossing the line together job done in 2:58:46…Bang on schedule!
Once through the finish I was inundated with thanks, handshakes, hugs and requests for selfies. It felt great to be a small part of making of others running dreams come true.