|Runners cross Blackheath to the starts|
As I reflected, I heard a big cheer. Mo Farah was warming up in the field next to our starting area. A man in a mankini ("MITM") had decided to keep him company as he jogged round the field limbering up. I was a bit worried that the MITM might interrupt Mo's focus for this for Mo was serious business. It wasn't to be the last time during the day that I would be concerned about MITM.
|Waiting in the GFA holding area.|
My strategy was to coast to half way and push from there. Mathew Kingston Lee of GRC (who ran 2:46 at Rotterdam yesterday) has described the marathon as a final 20 mile training run with a "balls out" 10k at the end of it. After 20 miles of racing there would be no balls out 10ks for me! but I understood the intention from the message - try and get to 20 with something left in the tank. With all that in mind, I made my way to the start and I got a good position which after the claxon sounded enabled me to cross the line about 40 seconds later.
|The tools of the trade.|
It was at about five miles that I noticed the crowds had suddenly become more enthusiastic. The crowd support at London is second to none but for some reason around five miles the spectators where whooping and hollering more than usual. It turned out that MITM was back. MITM was running alongside me wearing nothing but a luminous bright green mankini, complete with a tattoo of the Welsh dragon on either of his well tanned arse cheeks and a black wig on his head. This was a problem for two reasons. Firstly I like to think that I run at the sharp end of the marathon field alongside serious club athletes. It kind of knocks the wind out of your sails and disturbs your focus when every time you look up you see two tanned male arse cheeks staring back at you. Secondly, and even more pretentiously on my part, what would become of my race photos? How could I maintain the respect of my mates at work. They too think I'm a serious runner but if I had to show them photies of me running next to the MITM any credibility that I had cultivated over time would be shot in an instant. Please take the time to click here and meet "Nigel", straight in at number 6 and also know as my race partner from 5 through to 13 miles where we parted. I tried in vain to shake him off at various times but it just seemed that our paces were evenly matched even if our fashion sense wasn't.
I ran through half way in about 1:28:30. I was feeling fine, I didn't feel like I had exerted myself and my breath wasn't really laboured. This gave me a fighting chance of sub 3. it was time to steadily push on to 20 to see what I had left but then the inevitable happened.
|Misery at 40k courtesy of Keith Measure.|
Experience matters in theses events and I knew from eight previous marathons, that if I could carry on at some kind of reasonable pace, there were similarly reasonable prospects of overcoming the wall. I staggered on in misery, mentally bemoaning how I had come to grief so early in the race. This year grandfather depletion visited early. At least I didn't have to endure the untimely visit with MITM, that might have tipped me over the edge!
At 20ish miles I saw Neil Thompson of Stockport Harriers, he was stood in the middle of the road having a chat with another Harrier coming the opposite way. I resisted the strong urge to scream for help and instead smiled and exchanged a pleasantry as If nothing was wrong. By this point I was exhausted and I need to draw on a bit more experience by promising myself a treat at a point further along the course. I decided I would allow myself a squat in the underpass. Only a squat to relive the lactic acid, a quick up and down might do the trick. I was reluctant to stop. I wanted to be able to say that I ran it all but by the time the underpass arrived (which seemed to take ages) I was hurting too much. I shuffled to the pavement and got down in a position like a poised frog. That was a big mistake because I struggle to get back up and when I did groan back to an upright position (and God did I groan) my legs where spasming all over the pace.
|Until next time.|
Despite the misery of the final miles I'm now very happy to have completed my ninth London Marathon. Therein lies a problem - you can't do nine of something can you?
Thanks as always to everyone who has offered support and encouragement. The marathon is a great event and an event that I respect more and more after each completion. If you haven't yet, but are thinking of entering for 2015, just do it. Its a life experience just watch out fort the man in the mankini!