Marathons: Paul #62, Leah #52 : London Marathon 2015
26th April 2015, London, UK
Finish Time (Paul) = 3:38:31
Finish Time (Leah) = 3:39:11
In the lead up to London we only got a few short training runs in. I tried a 2 mile run but felt my achilles/calf issue coming on, so cut the run short and opted for some stretching. I slept each night in a Strassburg sock, which while not the most comfortable thing, is fantastic for both plantar fasciitis and achilles / calf muscle repair. Towards the end of the week my leg was feeling ok so I was hoping it would hold up.
We made our way to the start by the usual series of trains and a walk across Greenwich Park. The forecast for the weather hadn’t been good, with rain and strong winds predicted, but as it turned out it wasn’t bad at all. We had brought various options to change in to at the start line but in the end we went with just our Katie Piper Foundation vests and a set of arm warmers.
We lined up at the start to begin a race I thought I would run once in my life, for the 8th time. It was Paula Radcliffe’s farewell retirement race and when the announcers called her name there was a huge cheer from all the runners. She was starting in the mass start, rather than with the elites, just up ahead of us.
The race started and we crossed the line much sooner than usual, we were underway in the 2015 London Marathon. As soon as we started people were cheering and there literally wasn’t a break in the crowd support for the entire 26.2 miles. It’s impossible to explain the crowds there, they have to be experienced. The closest I can describe is imagine the finishing stretch of the best supported race you can think of, London is like that the whole way round.
We ran through the familiar streets and even though we had started up in pen number 3 of a possible 9, we were still tightly boxed in with crowds. We kept up with the pace of the people we were with, which was around 8:15 minutes per mile.
After 5 miles we came to my Uncle and cousin’s usual marshaling spot, exchanging high fives as we ran past. Once we reached the Cutty Sark we spotted the opportunity to get a little more room by overtaking the 3:45 pacer, where a lot of people had bunched up. We took this chance and sped on ahead.
The crowds were crazy, they seemed so much louder than previous years. But perhaps it was just because I was enjoying the run so much more. I was feeling strong, my leg felt fine and we were zipping along at a fast pace with ease. I had my head up and was smiling.
We hit Tower Bridge just before halfway and got to enjoy the amazing experience of crossing it while all you can hear is an immense roar from all the supporters. You forget you’re even running until you get over the bridge, for a few minutes you’re lost in another world.
We rounded the corner much sooner than in previous years, meaning we were just in time to see Mutai running back the other way followed by a few more of the elite runners. We soon hit half-way in 1:49, still feeling good. I realised at that point that if we ran the second half the same way we could potentially finish with a time in the 3:3x range. We hadn’t intended to run it anywhere near that fast, especially considering it was our 7th marathon in 7 weeks, and we had 4 more consecutive weekends after this where we did need sub 4 for our US States. But everything was feeling so good and we were loving the race. For me, getting a 3:3x time in London would be a dream come true.
We carried on, soaking up the atmosphere and the miles and eventually reached the point where we saw my parents. We stopped for a brief moment to talk to them and pushed on. Leah was beginning to tire but the thought of the 3:3x time was keeping me motivated. I pressed on and Leah kept with me, just behind. We hit 24 miles and realised if we wanted to make it we’d need to push even harder for the last 2. We stepped up the pace and I kept looking over my shoulder to make sure Leah was hanging in, which she was. I ran mile 25 in 7:37 and mile 26 in 7:22. As we came down the final straight before the turn by Buckingham Palace I looked over but couldn’t see Leah.
We turned around the final corner and I took it wide, running far out to get a good view of everyone behind me. I couldn’t see her anywhere though. The time was nearing the end of the 3:30s so I pushed on, making the final sprint down Birdcage Walk and feeling a huge rush crossing the line in 3:38:31
As soon as I stopped running I waited at the finish line and it wasn’t long before I saw Leah coming in at 3:39:11, she had seen me running out wide around the corner, but was completely confused as to what I was doing. It was a shame we didn’t end up being able to finish together especially as we both would have been under 3:40, but we were just over the moon to have achieved the times we did.
It marked a big milestone for me, my first London back in 2008 was a painful 5 hours 27 minutes. The year after I ran a 3:59 just scraping my first sub 4 and since then my London runs have always been tough for various reasons. I have run some strong marathons so far in 2015 and couldn’t be happier than I can now count my home marathon as one of them.
When the official results were published they included some interesting statistics. Over the last 7.2k (4.5 miles), I passed 1,269 runners and only 7 passed me. Leah passed 1,169 and 9 passed her. It reaffirmed that we had run a very strong finish.. and not bad for our 11th marathon of the year so far!
Elevation Graph from my watch:
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