1999 London Marathon 2.49
This is a story to show that even if everything goes a bit wonky the day before the big race you can still come away with a good race.
I'd been running for about 6-7 years plus another 10 cycle racing before that, I think the bike racing gave some pretty good endurance, 135 mile club runs in the hills made 26.2 miles seem a short way, in my mind at least!
Leading up to the FLM I trained with the club 3 x per week plus one speed session with super vet Steve James.
An example week in March 1999 was something like this:
Club run 6 miles, pretty much a progression run.
club run 7 x about 800m fast [5.10 pace]
Easy run over the sandhills = 1.30
fartleck pinewood session with Steve, 5 x mile and half loop with 4 efforts per lap and steady running between.
1 hour sandhills with 6 x strides
Sun club run pinewoods up to 3 hours.
2 weeks before London I smashed my P.B. over 10k with a 35.14 things were looking good!
My body weight was over 12.5 stone, I use to do some very heavy weight training back then and was very strong but not really a Marathon runners build!
Anyway back to the Friday before the race, I'd messed up a bit and not managed to get the night off work.End result I only got 2 hours in bed before we had to get up to catch the train on Sat.
Saturday was a busy day, catch the train to London, drop the bags off at the hotel then more trains to the Expo to race numbers etc.
Back at the hotel my then crazy girl friend had a tantrum over something really stupid and I ended sleeping on the floor of my team mates room with one thin blanket.
I had a completely sleepless night as I was too cold to get to sleep!
Race MorningI eat my breakfast nervelessly contemplating the 26 miles ahead!
I was even more nervous on the train to the start.
The Longest HourWaiting for the start was torturous, negative thought kept flashing before my mind!
At last the start!I remembered what 2.45 Marathon runner Tim Marshal had told me, "Hold back for the first 2 miles then get into a rhythm".
The nerves left me as I left the line, Wow I was in the London Marathon!!!
Mile OneJust on 7 min mil pace, after that my speed increased on the downhill to around 6.25.
The crowds, the live music and the whole atmosphere was just amazing.
It was like someone had injected me with a massive dose of Adrenaline!
I was buzzing!
Six MilesI decided running at a steady 6.25 was getting a bit boring!
So for some strange reason I started running alternating fast miles (6.00 pace) with slow miles (7.00 pace).
This madness felt like fun, like a giant mile rep session!
Concentrating on one mile at a time seemed to work for me, my legs enjoyed the fast mile and the slow mile felt like jogging!
HALF WAYI was now going into no man,s land, I'd never raced more than a half before, but I felt great as I ran through 13.1 miles under 83 mins.
Around 17 miles I rocketed passed team mate Mark Ashby (I was on one of my fast miles) I think he took a double take at me as I flew passed, I had a massive smile on my face as wide as the Thames!
THE WALLI'd been told about this but did not really fear it!
By 20 miles my quads and calves were starting to scream at my in pain, I decided it was time to ditch the fast mile- low mile routine and run more steady!
Feeding off the crowd!Yes my legs were hurting ( all my long runs had been on the sand and were not used to the hard pounding of the road] but I still had lots of energy left.
I started shouting at the crowds each time I went round a corner" Come on give us a hand we have just run 20 miles!"
There was an amazing ripple of clapping and cheering, wow this was like being at the center of a massive carnival!Each mile got harder and more painful, yet I had more confidence and pride than ever before.
The Finish LineAt last I turned for Buck House and managed a final sprint to the line 2.49.53!
I was totally wired, Yes I did it!!!
I know I will never feel or experience anything so amazing again!
this was 'THE RACE'!