Having a marathon race plan that involves going through halfway in 69min when you haven’t even managed to break 70min for a half so far this year is always going to be a little scary!
That was my plan though and with the last couple of weeks training suggesting I was starting to gain a little bit more speed I thought it was worth a shot with a top end goal of holding on and dipping under 2:20 if I had a perfect day. The weather didn’t look like it was going to be too helpful though with a North Westerly wind (exact opposite of what you want in London) of over 10mph so this would mean it would be important to get in a good group.
Here’s me on the start line trying to do my bit for Marathon Talk / Xempo head gear advertising….minimal coverage I’m afraid boys making a brief appearance
So off we went and after around a mile an obvious group formed which contained Kojo (my main V40 rival) and a number of familiar faces and friends who I knew where all targeting somewhere between 68:30 and 69:00 for halfway.
The group was going a little faster than I’d planned with a 15:59 first 5km but that did include the fast downhill mile 3 and as my heart rate showed me that aerobically I was going to have a good day (it was settling nicely in the low 150’s) I thought I’d better go with it as there wasn’t really much option of a slower group forming.
Things thankfully seemed to settle down around mile 5 with the pace dropping a little closer to my original target and we knocked out 5km splits of 16:18,16:32 and 16:37 on our way to halfway.
The group running well together including Kojo, Aaron Scott, Tom Payne, Mike Kallenburg and Lee Grantham
(Thanks Manol for the photos)
We went through halfway almost bang on my target in 69:02 but it wasn’t that long after that my legs started to remind me that I’d just gone a minute faster than my best half marathon time this year! (70:01 in Bath last month) The 20-25km split came in on target in 16:25 as I tried to stay with the group but it wasn’t that long after this that I had to let Aaron, Tom and Kojo drift off the front leaving just myself and Mike to work together.
I found that even though my legs had gone very heavy and the pace had dropped a little I was still aerobically very strong and so after an initial panic that things were going to get very messy very quickly I was able to sustain that slightly slower pace with 5km splits between 25 & 35km of 17:06 and 17:20.
From about 20 miles onwards I was basically on my own and I really started to notice that North Westerly breeze which was picking up a treat just at the wrong time.
Some tough miles on my own – Even a race of 40000 can get lonely at times!
It was around mile 23 that I could see that I was starting to catch some of the guys who had left me at halfway with what I thought was Kojo and Tom in the distance. It was however a little tricky to tell as a couple of miles earlier the wind had managed to blow my right contact lens out of my eye so I was struggling to see anything!
At this time I thought that Kojo was currently in the 1st Vet 40 spot and this gave me a real mental boost to try and maintain a solid pace to catch him and within a couple of miles I’d managed to pull back in and pass both Kojo and Tom. I’d managed to pick my pace back up a little with my final 7km coming in back under 5:30 mile pace.
I crossed the line in 2:20:50 for 29th place overall (including the elites) and 2nd Vet behind Serhiy Lebid who I didn’t realise was running off the elite start. Oh well, 1st Brit Vet and a small consolation is that Serhiy is a year younger than me so I can still say that no-one older than me beat me in the London Marathon 😉
So even though I didn’t quite get that 2:19 to add to the collection, I’m more than happy with that performance as it’s so much better than anything I managed in 2015 and shows me that there may still be life in the old dog yet! I’ve now just got to try and recover as quickly as possible for the Wings for Life race in two weeks so I’ve limited myself to just a couple of Stella/Cigar combos 😉
Kojo and I at the end – Big smiles and big PB for Kojo!
Another great performance on the day was my 10 month old Ridgeback puppy Obi who coped really well with a day out in London on one of its most hectic and crowded days….. much to the relief of Sarah!
(Thanks cousin Helen for the photo and the Pitman family for there hospitality over the weekend!)
All the stats below including the official 5km splits, my Garmin upload and the Full results link.
Full Results HERE
Another great year at London, lots of fantastic performances by my friends and club mates (we have an anxious wait to see if BAC has managed to place in the team competitions), had a great time on Friday afternoon with the Garmin guys at the Expo where I got to meet and do some promo stuff with Kelly Holmes (who smashed London on her debut with a 3:11!) and always good to catch up with everyone at the Red Lion afterwards…… I’ll be surprised if I’m not back in 2017!