When I ran my first marathon in 2015 I never thought that I would ever be able to achieve a good for age time for any of the majors. I 2017 I got a ballot place for Berlin Marathon. I ran the race in an incredible 3.51 which as well as good for age for London 2019 was also a good for age time for Chicago 2018.
Entered both Chicago 2018 and London 2019. In Chicago I took another minute of my pb to take it to 3.50.26. Race didn’t go quite to plan with hip pain at 14 miles making the second half a struggle.
After Chicago I ran the Aviemore half marathon the following week then park run the following week and was able to achieve PBs in both runs.
In November with London training I had a discussion with Darren at work about joining Harmeny to work on interval training on a Thursday nights at Saughton. I decided to give it a try. Haven’t looked back what a friendly group of like minded people I met.
Christmas came and went, New Year arrived along with my 16 week training plan that would get me to London. I am lucky to have a brilliant personal trainer, Gregor Ridley who keeps me right and writes my plans for me.
Over the next 4 months I kept to my plan. Weekly training sessions would include long run, tempo run, intervals/track session, PT/gym session and pilates. I would have 1 rest day a week, normally a Sunday.
Miles increased quickly and I ran my first 20 mile training run in February. I felt that was early for such a long run but had faith in my plan and was grateful that Gregor joined me for 9 miles. I had signed up the Inverness Half Marathon in March to give me race practice. The weather gods were against us that day. Gale force winds, snow, sleet and rain made for a tough race. Not me best performance. I ran another 20 mile training run this time with Kim Kenny, Harmeny runner who was also running London. For once the weather was pleasant and we had a great run. At the start of April my final long run was with John, William and Lindsay. We met at 8.30 on a cold wet Sunday morning and ran along the canal from Ratho towards Linlithgow and back. It was a cold drive home… soaked to the skin.
Winter marathon training is never the best. You have to get out in all conditions. Apart from a very small spell of sun in February I think all my training runs I was fighting the wind.
Marathon weekend arrived and I travelled down to London on the Friday night with my husband and 2 boys. On Saturday morning my youngest son accompanied me to the Running Show/Expo. For anyone who has never experienced an Expo it is a huge hall full of merchandise, stalls advertising marathons, charity stands. Once I collected my number I made my way into the hall. I have to admit I didn’t spend long. It was the Saturday before marathon day and haven spoken to one of the volunteers, half the runners were still to uplift their numbers. It was busy.
Up at 6.30 on Sunday morning, race day had arrived. Looking out the window the weather seemed overcast and cool with a slight breeze. I had trained in gales so a slight breeze wasn’t going to scare me. By 7.30 I was heading for the tube to get to Greenwich for the start. Tube soon got busy, you could feel the nervous excitement of everyone heading to the start. A few first time marathon runners who were frightened of the unknown. Dropped bag off at the baggage trucks, the volunteers were in a party mood. Great atmosphere. Obligatory toilet stop for last minute pee before heading to the starting pens.
As I had a good for age place I was in zone 1 of the red start. Looking around I began thinking I was I the wrong pen. It was filling up with some serious looking runners. Nerves were kicking in. Time seemed to take forever before the gun started the mass runners shortly after the elites. This was it, 16 weeks of training were over and now just had that 26.2 mile to run.
I tried starting slow but realised I had gone off too fast. I felt strong and tried to slow to the pace I wanted. The 3.30 pacer was in sight for a good few miles so I knew I was going too fast. At mile 3 both starts merge and become one race. Runners start looking for friends who started at different points. Not long after the merge was my first sighting of my husband David and my boys. I was still feeling strong and they got a wave as I passed them. Seeing family gives you a boost. I continued on and next highlight was Cutty Sark, Greenwich. Amazing crowds all cheering you on, shouting your name. I was still at a comfortable pace although I knew I was ahead of my plan. As I approached Tower Bridge I thought my music had died on me….no, it was fine. The crowds were so loud that I just couldn’t hear my music. I spotted the CF Trust cheering squad and made my way to that side of the bridge. I do not believe that there is anywhere in the world where the atmosphere could beat Tower Bridge on marathon day. It blows you away. Just over the bridge is the half way mark. As I checked my watch I realised that my time was faster then I had ran in Inverness in March. I was about 5 minutes ahead in time and at this point believed a 3.40 was possible. I slowed a bit trying to get my pace sorted and took in the atmosphere. David had said that he and the boys would be between 14-15 miles so was on the look out for them. I’m eventually heard them shout on me and I gave a smile and kept going. There was still a long 11 miles to go. Could visualise in my head a 10 mile training run. It’s at this stage that you start seeing runners heading home on the opposite side of the road. I found myself cheering the elite runners who only had 5 miles to go. This section of the run is tough. The support is still here but not as busy as other parts of the course. As I approached 20 miles my feet and toes began to cramp. I managed to keep going. I saw David and the boys again and gave them a smile, probably more of a grimace as I was starting to hurt. At some point between 22/23 miles I thought my left hamstring was going to cramp and jumped for a split second. I knew then that I just had to keep my legs going to stop the cramp. At 24 miles there is an incline up towards the embankment. I just had to keep telling myself that I could do it. I had a mile and half left and knew that I was on for a pb. The crowds along the last 2 miles were brilliant. Strangers continue to shout your name, pushing you along to the finish. Looking to the left you see the London Eye and up ahead is Big Ben and Houses of Parliament. Almost home. Soon at St James Park and 1km to go sign. Countdown on 800m, 2 laps of the track, 600m, 400m and in my head 1 lap of the track which I have done many a time now at the end of a track session, pass the fountain outside Buckingham Palace and then as you turn into The Mall, 200m and the home straight. As I passed through the finishing area I switched of my watch and see a time of 3.45.19. I had done what I set out to do -a 3.45 finish. Almost immediately I get my finishers text from Virgin London Marathon congratulating me and my time of 3.45.06.
Highlights of the day has to be Tower Bridge, my 5 minute pb and being able to raise over £1700 for CF Trust, a charity close to my heart as both my boys were diagnosed with the condition in 2017.
When I entered London my aim was to achieve a good for age time for Boston Marathon 2020 which I succeeded in doing. I never thought about signing up for London 2020 as it is 6 days after a Boston. My 17 year old son announced the week after that he has entered the ballot for next year and has also applied for a charity place with CF Trust. In light of this I might enter again. Would be a great day running London with him.