London Marathon Review
It is over two weeks now since the London Marathon and most of the aches and pains have eased enough for me to reflect and think about getting back to some serious training to prepare for some upcoming races.
This year's was the 30th London Marathon. I have done eighteen of them including every one since 1995, sixteen in a row! In the days preceding the race with travel plans in chaos due to the volcanic ash cloud, it looked like my biggest challenge was getting to the start line at all. I abandoned my plans to fly and booked the train instead. I have to say that Virgin Trains have improved considerably since the last time I travelled with them and I arrived in London relaxed just 4 hours and 20 minutes after leaving Glasgow.
With my number and chip collected it was off to the hotel to relax. The only concern now was the weather forecasters telling us it was going to be the hottest London Marathon on record - hadn't planned for that!
The morning of the race soon comes round and after a good breakfast we meet the rest of the SWAC team and walk to Charing Cross for the train to the start. This year I am back on the green start - 'good for age' but I am a bit put out, the rest of my pals are at the front of the red 'fast good for age'. As we start to split up at Blackheath to head towards our respective start areas it is just me and Joanne on green and we both do a double take as Richard Branson dressed up as a butterfly passes us! Far from being a hot start to the day, it starts raining as we assemble at the start and everyone squeezes into the tents to keep dry. With 20 minutes to go before the off, I wish Joanne well and head for the starting pen to get as near the front as possible. I get a good position with only the 'celebrities' ahead of me - I don't recognise any of them other than Gordon Ramsay.
The gun goes and after muscling my way through the assorted soap stars there is clear road in front of me until we merge with the main blue start just before the first mile marker. My target, as ever, was to dip under the three hour mark, my training had gone well and I had some good race times under my belt so I felt confident this year.
The miles passed quickly - the first few too quickly in fact - I was ahead of schedule and needed to slow down a bit. Just after half way - club mate Rick cruised past me looking very comfortable - he was looking for 2.45 and wanted to run negative splits so I wasn't too surprised to see him come past me. I felt good well into the second half of the race and despite a stitch coming and going from 16 miles onwards I reached 20 on target and starting to feel better. Victoria Park club mate Gerry passed me at about 23 and uttered a few words of encouragement - Gerry normally runs low 2.50's so I started to think this was going to be a good year. I couldn't stay with him but kept a reasonable pace going and as the finish line loomed I realised I was very close to 2.55 - one last effort up Birdcage walk and down the Mall saw me finish in 2.54.30 my second fastest ever. I hadn't run that fast since 1997! Time to catch up with the others - Gerry ran 2.53. What is it with him? over the past year, it doesn't matter the race distance - no matter how well I run Gerry is always a minute ahead of me!
Next I found Rick looking very pleased with himself - he had missed his target just but run a lifetime PB of 2.47. It wasn't long before most of the SWAC team were safely over the finish line and with the conditions being far more favourable than forecast, everyone had run well. Nick was still out on the course - he was a bit short on training this year and so missed the team photo (below) in fact he missed the train home too but that is another story.
It is Monklands Half Marathon this Sunday. I haven't done this one before so not sure what to expect. I am told it is not a fast course and I am far from sure my legs have fully recovered but it will be good to get back to some racing.