Monday, April 18, 2011

Virgin London Marathon 2011

Well that hurt!

What a day...painful, hot, incredible, painful, amazing and tiring!

In short the day didn't go to plan (the plan I re-made at 1 o'clock on Saturday) but it was one of the most amazing things I have done! I finished in 4.25.07 which I am pleased with in hindisght because the state I was in made just finishing pretty special! I'll start right back in the build up to the race to see if it throws up any ideas as to why I went wrong!

So Friday I had my first major carb session of the weekend with a pizza for lunch and pasta in the evening I also had a 1.5 mile run to the pool in the evening, a 2,150m swim and then a 1.5 mile run back after but felt okay and didn't go crazy in the swimming! In fact I felt pretty good about everything!

Saturday I popped in to town and did a few things before getting on the train to London, I eventually made it to the Excel centre where I wandered around the Expo, registered etc and checked everything out for a few hours! I'm guessing carrying my heavy rucksack around didn't do the resting much good and once I had made it to my cousins flat about 3 ish I was feeling pretty tired from travelling! I had my pasta on the train and porridge in the morning, I also drank a 2 litre bottle of water with 2 nuun (salt) tablets in it! I also decided that instead of run/walking I would just run at 9 min/miles as this hadn't been difficult in my 20 mile race in March!

We spent the afternoon in the pub watching the football where I had a diet coke and then another couple of pints of water before heading back for a pasta bake and more water! I felt full but not too badly bloated and was very hydrated so figured I was okay! I got to sleep about 11 and then from 4.30 I dozed before waking up at 6 properly - stuffed down a big bowl of porridge and golden syrup, another pint of water with nuun in it! Got myself kitted out and then headed to the tube about 7.30, sipping my zipvit energy drink on the way!

Milling about the trains was all fine and then it was about 15 minutes walk up through Greenwich park to the start, I ate my energy bar then and waited till it was time to get going! My legs didn't feel particularly fresh but then they never really do!

So I made it through the start about 8 minutes after the start time and got going quite nicely, though it looks all jammed up there is actually plenty of room and I only occasionally got bunched in! Someone knocked my Garmin off about a mile in which was a pain - you try running against the tide after 1 a mile in big city marathon! Anyway I retrieved it and carried on...I let myself settle down before checking my pace....8.54 for the first mile...well it was on pace but man it was legs just felt tight and I didn't have the easy crusing feeling I expected!

A quick wee stop in mile 2 slowed me down there, before I let my body just go on the downhills through Woolwich and in to Greenwich...the atmosphere was already amazing here, with house parties, music and bands lining the roads, the drummers under an early roundabout where amazing and made chills run down the back! The sun started to break out about mile 2-3 and it started getting warm but was no real issue - I made sure I took on water at least every 2 miles, however I just couldn't get in to a comfortable body just had no interest in running smoothly!

Greenwich high street was exceptional and just had the most amazing buzz going with loads of cheering and shouting going on - the people getting behind you is pretty awesome! Hanging out of pubs, shops, houses etc!

Saw my girlfriend at mile 12 which was a big lift before heading over tower bridge which was as moving as I expected it to be with the most incredible amounts of noise! It was really hot now heading down to embankment but I didn't mind that and kept taking water on - annoyingly my Garmin was reading about 100m out per mile which meant that even 9mm per wasn't fast enough - I also missed a few mile markers down this long straight so felt pretty lost...seeing the elite guys coming the other way was cool - they looked like they were hurting big time!

Through halfway in 1.57 and I was still on target give or take but I was hurting badly and reaching a tunnel into canary wharf at 15 miles and I had a brief walk and got some lucozade in me...running back out the otherside was when the heat was at its worst and there were lots of walkers and people dropping out but my speed was still hangin in there and although I was pretty sure I'd miss 4 hours I kept 18 I was in a world of pain but again the crowds were pumping big time and about 3-4 people deep, I also met up with Corinne (@bungleduck on twitter) which was cool - we ran to mile 20 and whilst I had no difficulty talking and my HR was about 140, the pain in my legs was horrendous and so I left her and took my first walk here, taking the opportunity for a gel (I had them at 5, 10, 15 and 20 miles) this was the signal that my body had been waiting for and I came off the rails a bit here...I ran/walk to mile 21 in 11.39 and I felt awful, I was faint and felt pretty dizzy but I knew I had been taking on water and continued to do wasn't lack of energy because I had just taken a gel and had done all race - I felt pretty sick too, in fact if I had been sick I perhaps would have felt better but

a) I don't like being sick
b) I was worried they would pull me out the race
c) I was worried if I was sick I would have nothing left in me to keep me going!

I phoned my girlfriend (Kelly) to say I was off target and so I'd be late to the finish line, she gave me lots of encouragement and so I stumbled on!

I decided to try a 4 min run/1 min walk technique and I think this got me through the next 2 miles or so, there were loads of people here and the noise and cheering was amazing - I had 'Timmy' written on my number and everytime I got a shout I tried to run a bit more and acknowledge the 'shouter'! Surprising what else sounds like Timmy when you're very tired...even 'Chicken' sounds similiar! It was overcast now which was nice, although the heat hadn't bothered me the shade was very welcome!

The good thing was that when I did run, I actually ran reasonably quickly and so my 11-12 minute miles weren't as bad as they could have been! Mile 24 was a beaut though....15.30 - there was a long tunnel through to Embankment and I walked the whole was carnage though and littered with people stretching, collapsing, resting and just holding this stage the St John's ambulance where stretchering people off left, right and centre and there was some tough looking scenes....I was hanging in there but determined not to join them on the floor...I couldn't go all this way and not get my medal!

My walk/run/shuffle got me through mile 25 quite nicely and I'll say it again....what a crowd...just amazing - 3-4 people deep everywhere and the noise and cheering was so incredible! Turning left past Big Ben was cool with a nice little down hill to the 600m to go banner...some more walking and then with 400m to go I got back up to speed and in past the grandstands...put a big smile on my face and soaked it up...nearly got emotional but I'm English so obviously I showed nothing more than a slight up turn at the corner of the mouth!

Just about walked to get my medal, photo taken and goody bag (best thing in there was an apple) I then picked up my stuff, the walk round to my meeting point was probably the hardest bit and I was close to passing out....I did speak to Jonathan Edwards though which was cool....for me...probably less so for him!

Found a spot on the ground and just a nut bar down me and the free lucozade and started to very slowly feel a bit more took about an hour for Kel to find me which actually suited me fine as I could steadily recover - slipped on my compression tights which caused a bit of cramp but was worth it when they were on!

We then slowly made out way through various train stations and home....I had a cheese toastie on the train but didn't feel to hungry till someone mentioned McDonalds...I still reckon this is the food of choice after a hot endurance event - all that salt and fat always feels good!

A big mac, double cheese burger, chips and mcflurry later and I was feeling a bit better.....I then went for my first pee since mile 2 excuse the graphics but I was obviously very dehydrated.....I had taken water on all day and although it was 20 odd degrees it wasn't crazy hot but I guess it was still enough to send me over the edge!

I think that combined with the 105 miles on the bike last weekend left me tight legs and I just couldn't flow like usual! Ah well lesson learned!

Positives: -
  • The crowds...I tried to high 5 as many of the little kids as possible!
  • I can get through a marathon
  • My shuffle is still good for 11 minute miles
  • I learnt loads about the last 6 miles!
  • I am sore but okay today! 
Negatives: -
  • I need to learn about my water usage!
  • Its gonna hurt like hell after 2.4 miles swim and 112 mile bike!
  • In mile 20 mile race, I held 8.45 min/miles for the first 10 before easing in to 8.30 which was more comfortable so the fact I could only just hold 9 means something wasn't right - I know I am capable of so much more!

This is my Garmin data below and medal above! 

So pleased to have done it!! Any ideas why I messed up gratefully received!


  1. Well done Tim. It will be tough after 2.4 and 112 but it's a different type of hurt, I promise. Not all days cab go according to plan but brain training is as important.

    Soph (@Sophie1347)

  2. You know more than you knew on Saturday and that in itself will be a major boost come next marathon or IM day. The unknown is always the biggest problem...

    when i did London i knew that the next time i did it i'd be faster because i knew what it felt like.

  3. I'd say that with a 100+ mile bike ride last weekend it was because you didn't taper at all for it. Did you taper for the 20-mile race? That would explain the difference. It IS hard to blame the heat when you weren't "feeling it" from the beginning. (Although being a polar bear, running a marathon in 20 degree heat would KILL me.)

    Either that or it simply wasn't your day.

  4. well done massive acheivement. Its hard to get the taper right when you are training for other events and a marathon is just really a warm up. The heat would have soaked up your energy too. I think you did brillianty. :-)