Sunday 13 April, 10:00
I’d been trying to get entry to this race for a few years. Now, after signing up to raise funds for charity, I’d got a place and the day finally arrived. I travelled on an early train on the Docklands Light Railway to get to Greenwich Park for about 8:00, to meet up with Jeff. He was there first and found me easily, and had an Australian chap in tow. The weather was mild and sunny, a big change from the other big city marathons which to date have been chilly>freezing. Had a free coffee and nearly got interviewed by the BBC. The build up was fairly calm; I wasn’t really nervous and tried to relax and save energy.
At 10:00 the race started but it took 15 minutes to actually pass over the start timing mats. The massive numbers made it difficult to get up to our preferred running pace, so we mostly slowed and just kept moving. No point running in and out of everyone. I soon began to feel hot and kept taking on water and the odd gulp of Lucozade. The crowds were large and there were lots of shouts for our names and ‘twins’.
I recall running around Cutty Sark at 6 miles and turning a sharp corner and seeing Tower Bridge immediately ahead at halfway. Had a good look for Jacqui near our hotel but she’d been unable to cross to get to a viewing point. By 18 miles the bounce had gone from my legs, and the soles of my feet were starting to hurt. I expected to have blistered and bloody feet by the finish. I could keep going at that pace but not accelerate to pass people or dodge obstacles. Jeff was great, picking up water while I kept moving. I didn’t want to walk, was focused on running it all. The last few miles I knew the landmarks and when I saw the sign ‘385 yards to go’ I knew we’d done it.
What an experience! Passing the finish line I stopped and had to gather myself a bit, feeling light-headed. A chap took a photo with Jeff’s phone and we made our way to the meeting point. A charity photographer took another pic and we decided to find Pat and all go off to the pub Jeff found, for food, drink and the FA Cup semi-final. Good call, even though we missed the reception at Banqueting Hall. A good football match but the Blades were defeated 5-3. It didn’t take the shine off an excellent day.
Back at the hotel I gingerly removed my trainers and found tired and sore feet, but no blood or blisters. Had just normal leg muscle weariness, and my left knee was a bit sore in one place.
I agree with Jeff that the start needed more music and less chat on the PA. Also, I think another improvement would be more stewards on the narrower sections of the course, to keep crowds back and make room for runners, especially when the big volume of 4-5 hour finishers are progressing around the course. But the organisation and logistics were otherwise first class.
Distance: 42.78km (Garmin)
Time: 4:32:19 (official and Garmin)
Avg HR: 155bpm (think it was 160+ for most of the second half)
Avg pace: 6:22 min/km (Garmin)
Temp: 9C to 16C?? Just estimating – it felt hotter!
Black trainers – probably need replacing soon