It’s Tuesday morning and I’m lying in bed in the athlete village and this is the first real time I’ve had to myself since the race, the last 48hrs have been pretty hectic!
I’m not planning on getting up till lunchtime so it looks like I’m having a bar of “Marvellous” chocolate for breakfast while writing this blog as it’s all I’ve got to eat, I feel no guilt about this……I’ve earnt it!
So Saturday evening I popped down to the food hall on my own to have my evening meal early as I was meeting up with family later and so I quickly tucked into my “last supper”. I was just picking up some cereal for pudding (as any carb loading endurance athlete would!) when I noticed the Brownlee brothers casually having a post race snack having completely dominated both the individual and team events in the Triathlon. Eye contact was made and Alistair then asked if I was all set for the morning.
So two of my biggest sporting heros just confirmed they knew who I was and then wished me luck for my race….. well that ticked the “pre-race motivation/inspiration” requirements nicely!!
Not much sleep was had Saturday night as nerves and excitement were pretty much as high as they have ever been but I wasn’t too worried as I had got a decent amount of sleep the night before. I followed my standard marathon race morning routine which consisted of getting up for a 12min jog at 5am (4 hours before the race) and then going for breakfast which consisted of 4 slices of white toast and a banana. The food hall was very quiet with just a couple of marathon runners in there so I had a quick chat with the Namibia entrant who informed me he was a Man Utd fan…. not sure this “inside information” was going to help me much in the race!
The coach down to the start area was a short one but there was still plenty of time for me to start getting even more nervous, I counteracted this by tweeting a selfie showing how nervous I was which calmed me down a treat
The time went really quickly once we got to the holding area and it wasn’t long before we were having our timing chips put on and tested and it was time for a few warm-up strides before lining up on the start line.
I remember a few final thoughts on the start line.
“I’m here” , “10 week training plan nailed” , “No niggles” …… no reason whatsoever why this can’t be my moment, just need to man up for a little over 2hrs and get on with it.
Before the race I had chatted the Nick and Ben about our likely race strategies and I had mentioned that I was looking to go through half way in a similar time to London (67:30). If the pace at the front started slow then I wasn’t going to mess about. I needed to be running 5:05-5:10 miles and so that was going to be what I ran even if it meant going to the front. I have no top end speed for any “surges” so this was always going to be my best strategy.
So where did I find myself just after the first mile….. leading the Commonwealth Games marathon!
The smile on my face confirms it wasn’t actually as nerve racking as you might think, in fact it was a fantastic experience and one I will remember for the rest of my life. It wasn’t long though before there was a surge in pace from some of the Africans and I was back in a “second group” with some of the British and Australian guys.
We went through 5km in 15:49 which was a touch faster than the 16:00 I had planned but I was feeling really comfortable at this stage and happy I was in the right effort zone.
It was now time for my second moment of glory as the lead pack started to slow again and after initially bridging the gap back to the front I felt they still weren’t going fast enough and so took the lead once again. I remember thinking to myself at the time, “I haven’t come all this way for jog!!”
My pace judgement had been right and we went through the next 5km in 15:55 which was spot on target.
The course had been pretty flat up until this point and it was now as we were moving into the 2nd half of the lap we hit the park areas where the hills were. I’d been told that they were not that significant and was happy when we hit them that this was the case.
The support so far in the race had already been absolutely awesome. I’ve never heard my name shouted so many times both from friends and family from back home in their #DBS t-shirts and also from the local crowd who couldn’t help but know who I am from the ridiculous amount of media coverage I had been getting!
I was able to have a nice moment with Bournemouth AC clubmate Sharkey at this stage as I could see him in our distinctive yellow and blue club colours from a way off. Would “High 5′ing” a member of the crowd be appropriate in the the CWG marathon I thought to myself? …. why not I say – it gave me a real buzz and I was still very comfortable at that stage.
I was also able to acknowledge all my friends and family with a cheeky fist pump as it was pretty hard to miss them with all their flags!
The #DBS crew ready for action
The 2nd half of the lap after we got through the park had some good running with a slight net downhill and a bit of a tailwind. My next two 5km splits were 15:49 and 15:50 taking us through half way in 66:49. Slightly faster than target pace but I was still feeling really good so didn’t worry too much about the fact I was only around 30s slower than my half PB!
Unfortunately the second lap was not quite so easy, not least because the wind had picked up quite a bit and for the first half of the lap we had to push on into it. Derek Hawkins looked like he was coping better into the headwind and this is where he started to pull out a slight gap. I was aware that my effort levels had really increased a lot as we struggled to maintain pace into the wind and I was slightly concerned that I may have been pushing too close to my threshold but held on knowing that the second half of the lap should be easier. The two headwind 5km splits came out as 16:03 and 16:34.
No “High 5″‘for Sharkey this time but he did give me the valuable info that there were 12 guys ahead of me, if I wanted that Top 10 then there was still work to be done.
With the benefit of the slight tailwind and downhill nature of the course I pushed on and started to pull away from the others in the group and although I was still losing contact with Derek I was maintaining a good pace. My final two 5km splits were 16:02 and 16:09 so no significant drop.
Motivation to keep hurting myself was helped by trying to pick off some of the guys in front who were fading and when I turned the corner for the final straight I could see there was a Tanzania runner ahead who was slowing.
My maths and senses were failing me but I was reasonably certain that the only thing between me and getting one of my goals of a Top 10 finish was this Tanzania chap so I put in my best sprint finish (which was pretty lame!) and passed him with about 50m to go.
Crossing the line in 2:15:16, my emotions immediately got the better of me and I had a small blub as I tried to comprehend the fact I had got the V40 record. I then managed to compose myself just a little bit before going through the “mixed zone” for loads of interviews.
Jonathan Edwards confirming on live TV for me that I got the Top 10 finish will be another one of those memories that stay with me for ever, I just can’t describe how good it was!
Loads of Media!!
The icing on the cake was then as I was walking back to the athlete holding tent I got a shout from just behind the fence, Sarah was there and we were able to have a special moment together…. albeit separated by a big bloody metal fence!
So all my targets hit in one fantastic morning, Top 10, PB and British Vet40 record.
While I have been writing this blog I have actually just received an email from the previous record holder, the man himself Ron Hill….. It doesn’t get much better than that does it.
Thanks Ron and I’m sure you will have approved of my post race celebrations…Cheers!
I must just add a few thanks…..
Firstly to my teammates Ben and Nick who it has been great to get to know and have had to put up with me and my media attention!
Team England who have been great and welcomed me into the fold and made me feel very at home which has made the whole experience so much easier.
And a big thank you to Adidas UK who “boosted” me round the streets of Glasgow, Tim Cruise-Drew for his physiotherapy support and the Chia Charge guys for keeping me fuelled.
Stay tuned for my next adventure…. coming soon!
(Race details and stats below for those that like that sort of thing )
Official race results : HERE