Last year, I was really pleased to have been given a club ballot place for the London Marathon 2014. It’s an event I have grown up watching and always wanted to do. I was coming off the back of a PB at the Great South run and my times were improving so my motivation to really train and go under 3hours 30 mins in London was strong.
Things went wrong, however when I picked up a knee injury just before Christmas and for a few days I could barely walk. At the time I was really concerned that I wouldn’t be able to run the marathon at all, and this concern grew when on January 2nd I tried to go for a run round the block and couldn’t manage even a mile without my knee feeling like it would give way. I went to see the physio and he diagnosed runners knee and told me I was to keep off running for the whole of January!!!!
At that point the marathon looked in doubt and I remember the cold Sunday mornings in January when all I wanted to do was go on a long run with some other club members, however all I could do was go on a recovery bike ride to try and get some strength back in my knee. One thing this period made me realise was how much I love running and I was desperate to get back to it. I followed the advice of the physio, kept up with the exercises and by February I was back to running, albeit slower and at an easier pace. It’s a frustrating experience being injured, but you need to be patient and see the bigger picture, following advice and listening to others, and not try to rush things to soon.
I managed to steadily recover in time to do the Reading Half marathon, the Surrey Half and the Surrey Spitfire in preparation for London and felt I was ready to go. I am ambitious and always set myself goals accordingly so I was aiming to get to 3 hours 30 inspite of having said a couple months earlier that I would just aim to complete the run and not beat myself up on time.
The London marathon itself was an amazing event, the weather, the crowds, the sights and sounds of the day will live with me forever, and I urge anyone who has never done the event to try it at least once. Highlights were the Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf and the finish on the Mall.
I was determined not to go off too fast, which was helped, as the first 3 miles was very congested. I then managed to get into my pacing and went with the 3.30 pacer up till mile 20, which is where it started going wrong for me. I didn’t take my 2nd gel as I had planned and by the time I realised I needed it I thought it would make me sick. My pace slowed pretty rapidly and whilst the last 6 miles were amazing from a crowd perspective, running wise it was a case of digging in and not giving up. It isn’t helped during these times when others around you are stopping or collapsing by the side of the road, however you have to start mentally talking yourself through this. I was pleased at just past mile 25 that I saw my family and stopped to give them a hug and thank them for their support as ever.
I finished in a time of 3 hours 44 which is a respectable time, and if I look back and think back to January 2nd I have to remind myself of how far I have come, however I don’t believe it reflects my ability, so I reflect and think of next year and Brighton 2015, where I will be looking for sub 3hrs 30.
The marathon is such a tricky event, hence why I keep going back for it, and the learning’s I take into next year are:
1) Don’t get injured!!!
2) Increase my average weekly mileage
3) Aim for regular track sessions as part of my training
4) Ensure I stick to my plan for taking gels
5) Continue to set ambitious goals that I push myself towards.