First, many many thanks for your support, both financially and in other ways. Hugest thanks goes of course goes to my long suffering family who have borne my early morning starts (ie getting up at 0530am) during the week and on Sundays with much patience. No lie ins for any of us! And to the Tim, Nell, Poppy and Ollie team in London who feed us for 24 hours and provide a comfy place to sleep and recover during the weekend itself. And also my amazing online mentor over in Amsterdam – I continue to maintain you could make a healthy living from your online coaching and encouragement!
This was my 3rd London Marathon following the adventures of 2009 and 2010. This time round I had a charity place from our favourite charity Christian Aid, and I had set myself an ambitious target of £2500, and at the time of writing including gift aid, you generous lot have taken the total to well over £3000 which is really fantastic – thank you!
Training went well. I came into January 2014 feeling good and with a level of fitness I had not had before. The previous summer I had cycled a few times to and from work (32 mile round trip) and that kept things ticking over. So it was relatively easy to pick up the miles. And for once we had virtually no snow or ice, which meant I think I only wore the infamous running tights for a couple of runs. They have a hole in an unfortunate place, so it’s just as well. I ran several weekend runs of 20+ miles and tapered nicely. I had only one minor scare involving a foot injury but that got better. I even ran to work one day, which I would like to do more of, as long the lift home is booked with the Windsor liftshare crowd it’s a good way to start the day and justify a cooked breakfast. Just remember to leave the spare clothes there the day before.
The day itself, 13 April 2014, was lovely, very bright but cool air until very late morning. I was chauffeured to the station by Tim, and made my way into Greenwich Park. This does involve a mile or so of walking, uphill. You need to be fit for this marathon lark. I was determined to not get distracted and follow my plan of hydration and energy and general focus, but ended up chatting for a while to a coach driver who was running his 10th marathon. All around 4 hours I think, he was in his 50s, and an ex-Sapper who is involved in various charities in Kent. Having got into my ‘pen’ we heard the hooter and shuffled forward and crossed the start line and started our run after only about 2:30mins. It was immediately apparent the crowds were massive, presumably because of the Mo Farah effect, but it was a fantastic atmosphere every step of the way. I really tried to focus on not going too fast (I was aiming for consistent 8 min miles) but could not help running a few 7:30min miles to start with. I kept pace about 20-50m behind the 3hr30min pacers, and I stayed with them until about mile 20. I need to work on the last 6 miles I think. Probably more speed and strength work in training is needed.
If you have seen my picture on facebook you will seen the marker pen scribbles on my arm, which were to remind me to look out for friends along the way. I missed people consistently until mile 19 when I saw Tracy, children and grown-up-Godson-Jim, in Canary Wharf. But before that I had seen Mo and co coming the other way along the road back towards the finish – the wall of sound surrounding Mo must be something he prepares for, it was immense and those of us plodding along in our mile 14 to his mile 20 also cheered and waved. He cruised along looking amazing. We jogged along by this time hot and bothered but at that stage I was still on track at 8 min miles.
At about 21 miles things got harder and harder and I could feel I was slowing up. It was getting hotter too, by now it was coming up on 3 hours running. I had been sipping the sport drink that is handed out along the route but it did not stop me getting cramps in my calves. I did notice a lot of people stretching about mile 21 onwards and sadly my minutes per miles increased significantly. I was happy to see some friends and then Tracy on the embankment. The last mile was TOUGH but I did not stop running at any point but I was slightly annoyed to have lost a lot of time by this point and knew that I would not beat my PB. I finished very slowly, no sprint up The Mall this time and was over the line in 3:47, 4 mins outside the PB. I was very tired and was very very glad to meet the family (extended!) and then go to the Christian Aid reception for a foot bath, tea and a lovely massage. By this time I was feeling much better and we got the tube back to Tim and Nell’s and they laid on a roast dinner, how kind!
So, would I do it again? Yes! Not sure about London, it was almost too loud and crowded both on the road and everywhere, but as before the organisation is amazing and the support is superb (if very loud). It was fantastic to be fast enough in the early part of the run to see the leaders running their 4:30min miles on the other side of the road. No injuries for me thank goodness, and on the Wednesday after the Sunday I was able to walk down stairs properly and that evening even went for a 10 min mini job to keep the legs moving a bit. Although this will be subject to negotiation, am looking forward to doing it all again as soon as possible…
If you have read this far I hope you will not mind one final final plug for the charity site, which is at www.justgiving.com/matthewtickle2014 if you have not made a donation to this great cause it would be very much appreciated. Thank you for reading my report.
Matthew, April 2014