Marathon #4 – The London Marathon

London Marathon 2019
London Marathon 2019

So April 28th 2019, brought with it episode 4 of my marathon year. This was the main event, the marathon which I was running for the NSPCC, and the best marathon in the world. If you are a runner, this is the one you must do, this needs to be on your bucket list, it really is amazing and certainly does live up to the hype. Here’s how marathon 4 panned out for me.

My previous marathon was on 1st March, so I’d had almost 2 months off. That gap proved to be tricky for me. I’d gotten into a rhythm in the last 2 marathons, I was running well, and got a PB in marathon #3. During the gap, I kept my mileage up, but for one reason or another, each time I did a long run it didn’t quite work out how I had hoped. So coming into London, confidence had dropped a little. I would still give it a crack at running another Sub 4, but I really wasn’t sure if I would make it.

Preparations on the run up were good, apart from the normal pre-marathon lack of sleep. The day before went to plan, did the Expo, then took it easy. Ate and drank lot’s including plenty of carbs. Come race morning, I was up at 6am, and started checking off my checklist. I’d recommend this, there is so much to remember on race day. Come 7:30am, I was heading off to Maze Hill station to meet fellow club mates.

Conditions were perfect. A cool morning, overcast and even a little drizzle, a million miles from the 2018 marathon that was 25 degrees in the baking sunshine.

My plan was to ‘run to feel’ to some extent, for me that means running a bit quicker at the start, that’s what feels best when I’m fresh, but not to an extent that punishes me too badly later. So I set out to average the first half of the race averaging in the region of 8:30 / 8:40 per mile. A wee stop in the first mile, followed by 3 quite quick ones, then I settled into my running. Late in the first half, I was feeling the the pace so dialled it down a bit. At halfway my watch was around 1:53:30, an average of 8:34 per mile, and putting me 6 and a half minutes below Sub 4 pace.

I’ve been here on a couple of marathons before, so felt confident that despite starting to feel tired, I could manage the clock, and get home. Sub 4 pace is 9:09 per mile, and I had 6.5 minutes to lose.

Running London this time, was overall a much better experience. I was much more able to soak up the atmosphere this time. I mixed up my running to vary things, sometimes running in the middle of the road and concentrating on my running, other times when I felt I needed it, I’d run right next to the crowd, that gets people involved with lot’s of people shouting your name and offering encouragement, I must have high fived hundreds of kids. Course highlights for me were the sound systems outside peoples houses in the early miles, the walls of noise at Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf, seeing club mates at miles 6 and 23, and it was great to remember a bit more of the finish this year!

Add to all of that, the sense of purpose that running for the NSPCC gave me. Knowing how much money I’m raising for such a good cause, getting cheered on at all the cheer points around the course, and it was very nice being pampered at the post race reception.

The pacing plan worked, and I managed to keep moving at a pace to get home 40 seconds under 4 hours, very happy indeed!!

Now to find out if 7 days is enough time to recover fully from a marathon. Next stop Southampton.

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