Time: 2:38:08Pace: 3:49/km Nutrition: 4x SiS Lemon/Lime Gels. 1x SiS Raspberry Electrolyte Gel. Water. Kit: Adidas Boston Boost 6 Shoes, Compressport Calf Guards, 1000 mile socks, 2XU Compression Shorts, Decathlon Racing Shorts, Adidas AdiZero Singlet, Ciele Hat, Salomon S-Lab Sense Hydro.
Course: 5/5 Facilities: 5/5 Support: 5/5 Organisation: 5/5 Medal: 4/5 TOTAL: 24/25
My best race ever? It may well have been.. Racing at this level is rarely perfect, but the crowd, support and atmosphere were just electric and London is about so much more than times.
I'd managed to qualify to get on the Championship start, from a race I ran in Folkestone last year. Coming in at 2:44:08 got me under the qualification threshold of 2:45 and London upgraded my starting area from Good For Age to Championship. This means you get to start about 10m behind the elites on the main start line, plus you get to rub shoulders with the cream of the crop when it comes to UK club running. The magnitude of it only really hit home when I was by the changing tent, getting ready right next to an all time hero of mine, Steve Way and here I was in the same starting area as the great man!
You really get looked after well here, all the volunteers have this sort of silent respect for what it means to be there and just let you get on with whatever you need to do. There is so much space, loads of toilets and it's all very civilised and delivers you to the start line relatively stress free and ready to race.
In my head I'd targeted a 2:35-2:38 finish, which coming off the back of a 2:41 at Brighton a couple of weeks earlier I thought would be entirely possible. The conditions on Blackheath were about as perfect as you could get for distance racing, light cloud, no wind and about 10 degrees for the start at 10am.
I wanted to make the most of the first 5k being all downhill, so set off at 2:30 pace, knowing I could get ahead of my time without doing too much damage. The excitement of seeing Sarah and James, must have caused me to speed up a bit too much as 5k came up in 17:30, so told myself to back off for the next 5k stretch from Woolwich to Greenwich.
The atmosphere at Cutty Sark that day will live with me for a very long time. Running right past my flat and round a boat I see on almost every training run I do, which was now emblazoned with the colour and the noise of thousands of supporters was so emotional. A surreal moment that I'd dreamed about ever since I moved to Greenwich three years ago, that was now a reality.
Sadly I couldn't just go round and round Greenwich all day and it was time to head up towards Deptford, saying high to Vickie and 10k came up in 35:18. Still going too fast!
The section through Canada Water and Rotherhythe is a bit of a nemesis for me. Every training run I do there seems to be a real struggle and today was no exception. As soon as I got past Decalthon I was desperate for the toilet, how does that work 15k into a race.. first 5k fair enough, but not now!! Then after I'd sorted that out I really struggled to get the pace back up and lost about 20 seconds over the next two kilometres for no apparent reason. I just couldn't wait to get out of this section and onto Jamaica road for the long straight up to Tower Bridge.
Sure enough my splits improved and I was now finally settling into a rhythm I felt could be maintained for some distance and was excited to get to Tower Bridge as knew half way was just round the corner. Alec and Marianne has come out to cheer, so it was a quick wave to say hi then the turn to hit the wall of noise over the bridge. It was defining, the screams and cheering was just incredible, like I've never experienced at any event, let alone a road marathon.
The marathon organisers should issue ear plugs for this section of the race, it really is that loud! It was working wonders for me as I crossed over and turned east heading towards Canary Wharf. This section is great as you get to see the elite women on the other side of the road, so managed to catch a glimpse of Alyson Dixon and Charlotte Purdue, who'd both go on to run sub 2:30 and qualify for the worlds, however it was quickly back to the race at hand as we entered the Isle of Dogs.
Coming through the underpass I spotted Matt Rees who'd I'd spent a lot of the Brighton Marathon race with, if only he knew what would be in store for him about an hour later!
For the first time in the race I could noticeably feel himself slowing down, so fracked open another gel and took it slightly too early, but couldn't afford to wait. This was probably the most sparse section of the course in terms of spectators and probably no busier than any other Sunday at 11:15.
My mind was starting to play tricks, probably as I end so many of my runs here, and we still had about 14k to go.. so got myself into a happy place and thoughts turned to my Goodgym friends who'd be waiting to see me within the next 15 minutes.
Seeing Helen was great, but my mind turned to Paul her partner who'd been targeting a 2:35 finish but had come down with an illness that had thrown and change of that out. So he'd be in cruising around mode behind.. no doubt in a much better state than me!
30k came and went and now it was the business part of the race, trying to deliver a strong finish and more importantly high 5 as many Goodgym crew as possible! Sarah had made me the best sign in the history of sign making, I was so made up at how sweet that was and coming through poplar you could hear her screams a mile away! She'd recently run the Manchester marathon in 3:42 to get good for age in the 2018 race...can't wait to have you on the start line too Sarah!
So it was high 5's a plenty and I almost had to go back as I nearly missed Vickie (who'd also just secured good for age in 2018 with a super speedy 3:27!) but managed to touch finger tips, so that counts right!
I knew it was just me against the clock now, no more supporters I knew, just a race to get the time and to soak it all up. My watch was now showing 3:40/km average, so the target times were well with reach..but could I get through the pain and carry on.. I was really starting to doubt myself.
As I passed Big Ben the famous hands of time said 12:40, so it was going to be really close. The last mile was all a bit of a blur, I don't remember much as was digging so deep to get to the line and have that medal round my neck. I turned the corner by Buckingham Palace and knew the 2:38 was in the bag so could enjoy the final 385 yards.
I crossed the line in 2:38:14 gun time and 2:38:08 chip.
The last time I raced London I was blown away at getting home in 3:27 and here I was all these years later casually knocking 49 minutes off that time. Just surreal.
I honestly feel there is so much more in the tank and with a decent summer of training I'll be closing in on the 2:30 barrier. I've only been back training seriously for 2 years now, on a whirlwind journey, coming so far. Here's to Amsterdam later in the year!
Thank you to all my friends and family who came out to support. You are all in my thoughts through all the training miles and races. Lots of love to you all.