Tuesday, 28 April 2009


Photo me London Marathon 1999
Jo, Tracey, Paul , Ken, myself along with my good wife Niz and pauls friend Tom set off for London on Friday lunch time. The plan was to pick the numbers up as soon as we hit the big city and spend the Saturday relaxing and taking in the sights!
The Expo was a big disappointment, nothing very new or exciting to see and for such a massive race one might expect a bit more [ lets hope the new sponsors Virgin spice things up next year].
Once we got our numbers it was time to relax wit
h a nice pasta meal in a Italian restaurant in Euston.
Sat 25th

Tracey, Jo, Paul and myself ran 2 miles
round a local park in the morning, it felt very humid and my hay fever was not good! I hoped it would be a little cooler for Sundays race, they kept forecasting late morning rain for the race!
In the afternoon I treated Niz to a crui
se up and down the Thames followed by a flight on the London eye, clear sky's and sunshine made for some excellent views.
Saturday night and we met up with the rest of the guys and girls in the running club doing London [ 15 of us in all].

Sun 26th RACE DAY

We got up at 5.40, went do
wn for breakfast and eat a last meal of porridge, toast and fruit, I could see tension and nerviness etched on my fellow runners faces [ looking like condemned men ready for a hanging!] , the big day had come round so fast, there was no way back!
Mark Ashby, Tracey and myself were starting in th
e good for age red start, I never started from here before and was in for a shock soon after the start!
The sun was burning down on us as we waited patiently at the start, Our lives flashed before us as reality zoomed in as the announcer counted down, 3,2,1, GO!!!

I started near the front, but held myself back as runner after runner blasted by, I wasn't going to make a dreadful mistake and blow all my months of training in a few miles of sub 6 adrenaline fueled madness!
The first shock came quite quickly, the red
start is really hilly, unlike the green and blue starts that have a nice gradual downhill for 3 miles the red start drops madly downhill 200 ft in a few minutes before climbing a steep hill and dropping down again to meet the main marathon [ blue line route]. This came as a massive surprise to me and it was difficult to set the right pace, I simply held back, but it didn't feel right or comfortable!
3 miles in 18.59.
Back in 1999 I felt so strong and energized blasting rou
nd the whole 26.2 miles on a massive wave of adrenaline, today was very different, I did not feel quite right, I don't think it was so much the heat [ I ran my best races her in 2003 and 99 on hot days] but more the humid atmosphere! I was burning up from the inside like a pressure cooker about to explode!
The vast enthusiastic noisy crowds and the humidity made me feel very claustrophobic [ not good for someone who use to suffer from panic attacks in crowded places as a child!].
mile 5 in 31.31.
I tried to calm myself down and relax, I started taking water very early as I knew I'd be in serious trouble later on if I didn't.
10 miles in 1.03
I was hoping by now to be running in the zone but it was not happening for me today, I kept feeling like I was about to crack, feeling dizzy for a while before coming around again only t
o lapse into feeling bad again, I was still on 2.47 - 2.48 pace but the effort felt to hard to maintain!
13 miles in 1.23.
Once past the half way point I started taking on board more and more water, the water stations see
med to come every 1/2 mile or so and I slowed to a jog after each station in a desperate attempt to pore the liquid down my throat and keep hydrated!
The course seemed far more rolling than I remembered from my last attempt in 2004, at the end the Garmin showed 1800ft of climbing, is that right or did the long tunnel send the G.P.S. nutty!
20 miles in 2.08
Talking to the runners around me they all seemed to be going through the same thing, dehydration ! The good news was that despite slowing it was not by much, I was holding myself together on grim determination!
I homed in on the weakening runners in front of me, one by one I picked them off like a blood thirsty cheetah after its prey!
I was slowing but people around me were slowing more, one then a second runner stopped dead in front of me, I had to swerve to avoid smashing into the back of them.
All around was carnage, runners cramping up, or so dehydrated they couldn't run anymore!

The miles were flying by now only 3 to go, shit just a short recovery run I thought to myself, I give every thing I had and that was not much.
Finally the finish came into sight I didn't dare sprint I would have probably blacked out if I had tried, I went for the dignified approach and crossed the line still standing up!
26.2 miles 2.51.15
At first I felt disappointed to miss my 1999 target time by 1min 22 secs, but then after hearing the horror stories from club mates I quickly changed my mind, dam that was hard and I made it through! Dad I ran that for you!

Team mate Peter Room
e trained really hard to break 3 hours but cracked to finish dehydrated almost collapsing on the line and stretchered off by the wonderfully hard working St Johns Ambulance people! Peter said he was running through a dark dark tunnel over the last mile, fighting to stay on his two feet!
Chris Dunn went through hell running on a infected foot to finish a courageous3.06.
Steve wilkinson ran 1.17 in the liverpool half but cracked soon after 14 miles walking the last 10miles. Mark Ashby came back from injury to record a very respectable 3.07.
Tracey did even better setting a new p.b. after only six weeks serious training due to injury, she finished with 3.26, Jo put in another great run in with 3.23 and Paul after increasing his training from 23 miles per week last year to 60-70 miles this year knocked a wopping 30 mins off his time from last year to finish in 3.24. Flying Doctor Simon Tobin had a fantastic run under the conditions with 3.29 .
1999 2.49.53, 2000 2.56.15, 2002 2.54.53, 2003 2.48.52, 2004 2.52.34, 2009 2.51.15

Conclusions, Marathons are bloody hard work, there is no way around it, if you want your best time and push it to the limit your going to go through a lot of pain, I mean thats the appeal of the marathon its a challenge like no other!
It tests your mental as well as physical limits to the maximum!



Rob Berry said...

Good run Rick, I was watching at half way, conditions were tough hey.

John Kynaston said...

Great run Rick. Really enjoyed your report.

If you are serious about doing the Fling let me know - you'd be welcome to come and stay with us.

I'm hoping Thomas will join us one day as well!


Ewen said...

Thanks Rick. Sounds like tough conditions when you're thinking about water that much!

A bit scary with the collapses and walking finishes. The girls did well - and looked happy in the 'before' photo.

That's still an excellent time, and worth 2:38 for a youngster. Still, the PB beckons, and I'm sure on a cool day you can get it.


Rob, it was hot back in 2003 when you ran 2.32 and I did 2.48 but I don't remember needing to take on board much water, maybe it was more humid this year, but i lot of runners seemed to suffer1

John, Thanks for kind offer, I will give the Fling some serious thought, cheers.
Ewen, Thanks, yeah the girls did great!