Friday, 20 April 2018

London 2018 Part 1 - Look Back on the 2017 Race

I've got out of the way of posting much on my blog for a while now, but there's lots to say so with the London Marathon looming this weekend I thought I'd post a series of updates on what I've been up to since the 2017 race. 2017 was very definitely a year of two contrasting halves....First up is a very late review of VLM17!

2012 to 2017 -  Under 2:30 after 7 goes...

I had a pretty much perfect day by all accounts, breaking the 2 1/2 hr barrier in 2:29:30. Encouraged by Ryan Snell of Exmouth Harriers I'd decided that this year was going to be an all or nothing approach.  I've run fairly conservatively to HR for a few years and ended up with a string of 2:33/2:34's and really didn't just want to churn out another... I also have to give a hat tip to club mate Henry Swinzto at New Forest Runners, he originally seeded the idea in my mind that you don't know your limits until you step over the edge!

A strong run on the lumpy Salisbury 10M race (for 2nd place, it was a warm day) 2 weeks previous had showed that the aerobic engine was in good shape. My last few double digit runs a week out were well below 7m/M so I had confidence that the potential for a fast time was there.

I ticked off a now well rehearsed 1 week taper with a combo of short (3-4M) easy runs, some 'MP' treadmill strides (eg 4-8x200m@17kph) and a daily sauna session (to encourage heat adaptation), plus a quickish progressive parkrun (18:39) the day before. I did the trip to ExCEL to collect my race number(s) on the Friday before and then heading to my Brother's place in High Wycombe for Friday & Saturday night. Everything went smoothly getting to the start and I was great to meet up with the usual suspects for pre-race chat and banter in the UK Club Championship start area.

The weather was ideal for a marathon, overcast and 11-12C with only light winds, The plan was to run 17:45 5k's up to 30km or so and then hopefully be able to hang on for the final stint. The start was a bit of a manic weave-fest with Ryan and George King from Winchester AC, but a few miles in and things had settled down and we'd tag on with a good few other sub2:30 aspirants. The first 5k ultimately was a bit quick in 17:28 with the downhill and by 10k the margin under target had grown to 30s with a 17:38. Honestly in the first 6M I was seriously wondering if I'd bitten off too much, but I'd taken all the HR stats off my Garmin and just focused on the pace. Thankfully as the miles progressed my legs settled in nicely. 

10-15k passed spot on in 17:45 and around that point I found myself drifting forwards into and to the front of the next big group of runners. 15-20k was 17:47 and I started to get the inkling that this could be a good day, but it was a bit early to tell and my mind see-sawing a bit from the positive to the negative going through half way in 1:14:25 and 20-25k in 17:44. A bit of a headwind going south through the Isle of Dogs was enough to push thoughts towards the 'well a PB will be just as nice' but thankfully the crowds around Canary Wharf rallied my mind. 25-30k clocked at 17:51 and the 'av lap time' (using manual splits) on my watch told me I was still on 5:41/M pace, so it was game on at 20M with 30ish secs still in the bank.

30-35k (17:50) was when the mental fight kicked in, my legs were slowly voicing their displeasure louder and louder, nothing critical in terms of cramp potential or the like, just resistance to the task at hand. Going along the Highway through mile 22 the field was becoming quite spread out which made it tougher still. Somewhere in the 23rd mile the thought popped into my head (with the actual pace showing 5:42) that 'that's a decent outing', to which another part of my mind retorted back, 'you don't get the kudos for running a good 23M...there's less than a parkrun to go, GET ON WITH IT...
Daddy's Big Shiny Medal!
35-40k was my slowest (admittedly not by much) split of 17:52, but the target margin was down to <10secs.... With only a couple of miles to go finally the conviction that this was going to be the day really started to kick in and it had a rallying effect on my pace with the last 2.2km averaging 5:39/M. The run up Birdcage walk seemed to go on forever counting down the 1km, 800m, 400m, 385yd(!) markers to the turn into the Mall. Sighting the finish line clock at 2:29:0x, for a moment I wasn't sure I'd get there in under a minute! Crossed the line elated and got down to kiss the tarmac in respect. Job done and massively happy 😁 Beers were thoroughly enjoyed on the pavement outside The Red Lion pub on Whitehall 🍻

THe post race elation lasted a fair while and to be fair I wasn't sure I'd have the motivation to try and repeat the feat, however the rest of 2017 didn't go very well running wise....

A selection of reasonably fast Dorset/Hampshire Marathoners

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