The last time I ran London in 2016, I honestly felt that it would be my last one. I couldn’t seem to string more than a weeks training without having a problem.
But although training had been hampered with niggling injuries and illnesses I somehow managed to get through.
I entered Snowdon in the same year, as this was always on the bucket list, thinking that I may not get another chance.
I adjusted my training to try and alleviate the niggles and found that I was in the best shape of my life once Snowdon came round. This then gave me the belief that I still had a fast marathon in me.
I followed the same training plan for London this year and knew that as long as I could stay healthy then I had a PB in my legs.
Training went really well and I think I only missed 2 or 3 days of planned training. All because of the snow!
Unfortunately, all my warm-up races were cancelled due to the snow. Even one would have been nice just to boost the confidence that everything was going to plan.
I was surprised to find that my legs felt really good when I hit my peak mileage with 3 weeks to go, so I knew that I was in sub 2:40 shape and had to give it ago at London.
I started backing off my training to freshen the legs up and everything was going to plan until the last weekend beforehand.
I woke on the Saturday night with horrible toothache, a trip to an emergency dentist on Sunday confirmed my worst fear that I had an infection and needed antibiotics…I explained that I had the marathon coming up and that I didn’t want to be on antibiotics, but he said I had no choice. But would just give me 5 days worth instead of 7.
This would give me 3 days prior to race day to get them out of the system.
And then as we started the last week, the weather forecast started to make the news. It could potentially be the hottest race on record. Just 3 weeks earlier I’d been training in the snow! In a local race this wouldn’t be a problem as your usually racing for position. But London was different, I was only going to get a fast time.
Race day arrived and travelling to the start at 7am they were saying it was already 18 degrees outside, it was barmy. Time to rethink my pacing strategy, I decided to add 10 seconds per mile onto my target pace and see what would happen.
I had a perfect position very near the front of the fast good for your age section and was able to get straight into my running once the gun went off. I couldn’t believe how hot it felt, I started to doubt my ability to hold the pace. At every water station I drank a little and dowsed the rest of the water of my head in an attempt to cool down. As each mile went by the water got warmer and warmer but it was still a much needed relief.
Once I’d gone past the 10k mark I realised that I was slowly overtaking other runners and that for some reason nobody was coming by me. This in itself gives you a big boost and I pushed on towards halfway. I passed halfway just inside 1:21 and was still full of running. My next target was to get to the 17 mile mark, the distance I’d been regularly running for my marathon based sessions. This soon came round and the legs still felt good. Potentially less than an hours running to go. This is where the brain starts telling you to slow down and you’ve got to keep fighting it for as long as you can.
As I approached mile 18, I had my first wobble, I felt really light headed and my legs started going to jelly. A quick fumble for my last gel and it didn’t take long for it do the trick. I was back on track as I reached the 20 mile mark in 2:04. Just the small matter of 10k to go… I was passed for the first time since mile 6 and I desperately tried to hang on to him but he was moving too quick for me. I then paid the price for gulping my gel down, a stitch at 21 miles. I slowed enough until it subsided and then tried to push on again. By now my legs were starting to feel the strain of the previous 2hrs and my feet were really sore. I could feel the pace dropping, I could have done with somebody alongside me to keep pushing me towards the finish line but even though I was slowing down I was still picking off the odd runner.
The welcome sight of mile 25 finally came and I knew I was on for sub 2:45, I reached the last turn before the finish line came into sight and I knew that if I could pick the pace up towards the line I could still get a 2:43 time.
I crossed the line in 2:43:46 in 234th place 36th in my age group. And I’m only 2 months from reaching another age group…
It was only 30 odd seconds of my pb from 2010 and in those conditions I was chuffed to bits.
What could have been had the weather been kinder……
The beer afterwards was very refreshing! And now time for a rest before I start all over again….
Addition from Sam.
I just thought I would add the split times for Stacey that were available on the London Marathon App (you may need to double click on it so it is big enough to read). It is amazing to see how consistent his pace was throughout the whole race. Fantastic Stacey, amazing run in such tough conditions. PS – make sure you follow up treatment on that tooth!