/ Race Reports

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017

Sunday 23rd April 2017

By Ian Fullen

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Does anyone get a good night sleep the night before a marathon? Having been able to secure a place to stay in Greenwich on the Saturday night I didn’t need the early alarm call and first train out of Teddington, but that didn’t stop me from waking at 5:30am. I opted to read a few chapters from my book, check the weather outside and the forecast for the day, and then think about that pace to try and run when we set-off.

Normally I’d go into a marathon with a very clear plan of pacing, target splits etc, but in this case having been out injured for almost 5 months between October and February I was clearly in no shape to race a time. I knew from completing Brighton 2 weeks earlier and another 35K run the previous week that the distance wouldn’t be a problem so the dilemma was what speed could I go without risking blowing-up, being able to enjoy it, but still make sure I got something out of it in terms of the result. I opted for 7 minute mile pace.

Having eaten my usual pre-marathon cereal and jam sandwiches and made the standard multiple toilet trips I headed up to the start area. I was in green GFA start this year (not sure why I wasn’t FGFA, but that’s another story) so a bit further for me to walk but arrived, dropped bag off, and joined the toilet queue. 20 minutes later I found myself unable to get into the overloaded pen 1-2 and chatting to some friendly Scots. 10am came and off we went (though apparently FGFA didn’t move for another minute or two, so maybe I had the better start area after all)! The first mile was spent weaving round world record attempts, celebrities and others who had decided they should start at the front but I managed to settle into the planned pace.

I past the 10 mile mark in 70:00. Excellent. Felt pretty good and was enjoying it. Steadily picked the pace after passing halfway in 1:31:30 and decided that a sub-3 result would be a nice target. The miles ticked by very nicely and the combination of great weather, steady overtaking and great support out on the course meant I was genuinely enjoying it. A couple of checks of my phone along the way confirmed no missed calls from my 39-week pregnant wife and so by 20 miles I knew I’d make it to the finish and not the hospital!

On mile 25 I was saw a SHAEF top up ahead and picked out Stew, and as I got closer I spotted some strange looking stains down his legs… Next I saw the 3-hour green pacer and thought I’d try to reel him in and ultimately came down the Mall and crossed with a chip time of 2:58 and a gun time of 2:59:59. Clearly the parkrun pacing has helped me judge a time! My first ever negative split for a marathon and most likely the last…

It was especially nice to see the big smiles and celebrations on others finishing around me who had gone sub-3 and then it was time to get T-Shirt, goody bag, medal and check the tracker app to see how everyone else had got on.

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A few beers (and pasties) later, sharing war stories, looking at results and the experience was over for another year. For me the coverage and results were pretty inspiring this year – an unheralded club runner winning the British Men’s event, the first female non-elite crediting her success to the motivation she got from a first sub-20 minute parkrun, and obviously the coverage of help between runners down the Mall to finish.

The main target for me at the moment is The Wall in June, 69 miles from Carlisle to Newcastle along Hadrian’s Wall. This was really a solid training run as prep for that and so I decided the next day another 14 miles would be a good way to round it off. The next 6 weeks are going to have lots more long (and slow) runs but two months ago I didn’t think I’d be where I am right now so happy with the progress and looking ahead to the next one. The marathon can be a tough bedfellow but this was definitely the most enjoyable of the 11 on my list.

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