I did it!
I ran a great race and I beat my target of 4 hours. I also ran a ‘negative split’ which some describe as the ‘holy grail’ of marathon running. That means that I ran the first half of the race (1:58:30) slower and the second half (1:54:52) for a total time of 3:53:22. This is a notable accomplishment for a first marathon.
The crowds are amazing. Both on and of the course. To help manage the 36,000 runners, the field is split the field into three different starts that converge about 3 miles into the race. As we converged one group of runners on one side yelled ‘Oggy Oggy Oggy’ and the runners on the other side yelled ‘Oi Oi Oi’.
The runners are so thick at the start, that it is futile trying to run faster than the crowd. While this could be a bit of a frustration for competitive runners, it helped me keep a slow and steady pace and achieve the negative split. I expected the field to thin out quite a bit later in the race. It never did. It wasn’t as thick as the start, but there was a solid crowd all the entire way.
Off the course, the streets are lined with people for the entire 26.2 miles. Some of the popular spots have people lined up several dozen deep. Pubs are popular. Each one along the course is packed with people and has a band or DJ to electrify both the runners and spectators. One had a DJ in a traffic island as runners flowed around on either side. Another memorable spot featured big oriental drums echoing beneath an underpass.
For such a long race, the time flew by. A huge boost was all of the people cheering for me along the way. K did a fantastic job organizing a Cheer Squad which gave me a big kick at mile 22. But with my name on my shirt, there was someone to cheer me on through the entire race. If I needed more cheers, I simply moved from the center to the side next to the crowds.
While overall brilliant, there were a few wrinkles. The knee I injured about a month ago started bothering me at about 9 miles. It got better and worse throughout the race, but I managed to push through. Sometime after mile 21 I also got a cramp in my right foot which was a pain and I discovered once arriving at home that my right foot is covered in blisters. Didn’t have any of that in my training.
It was good that I did some of my training in Israel. It was hot for my last 12 mile run at the Dead Sea. And it was hot today (ok, by British standards… I think it was 68°F. I thought it was quite nice). Despite the forecast of cool and buckets of rain, the sky was clear and bright with sun. I was glad I got a few warm weather runs in and was prepared with my hat and sunglasses which I otherwise never would have bought.
Overall a great day. Would I do it again? Tough to say. You can’t beat the crowds and the atmosphere. And it didn’t really hurt while I was running. It actually felt great because of my training and picking a reasonable pace. However I don’t look forward to a repeat of the months of training and just the thought of another 26.2 miles makes my knee hurt. If it weren’t for my knee injury, I’d probably say yes. I almost registered for the Berlin marathon last month. Perhaps I still will.
Here is the results from the tracker today. It dropped out for about hour at around mile 12 due to my fat fingers (no I didn’t hop on the tube from Bermondsey to Canary Wharf!) but overall it worked well.
GPS tracking powered by InstaMapper.com
And here is a Google Map of the run as recorded by my Garmin Forerunner 405 GPS watch (Thanks Mom and K!)