A right old cockney knees up! – Simon Croft

A right old cockney knees up! – Simon Croft

So happy that’s over with!!!

Marathons always seem like a good idea until the second half of the race. Sunday was no different.

Shortly after signing up to London I’d set myself the target of sub 2.45. I would need to PB by 9 minutes. Training had gone well. I had increased my mileage from the usual amounts and got several 20 mile + runs in. The only doubt in my mind was that in the 3 weeks I should have been doing my longest runs I did races. Trimpell 20, Coniston 14 and Liverpool Half.

Race day produced near perfect weather. Arriving at the starting area for London is quite a site. Thousands of runners wearing every colour of the rainbow all heading in the same direction. Every single person realising that they had actually paid good money to run 26.2 of torture, what where we thinking!

Now to run a sub 2.45 meant averaging 6.17 per mile but my plan wasn’t to do that, my plan had been to average around 6.10 a mile for the first 16 and take it from there. It worked well at Trimpell until I hit the strong head winds so I believed at London without the wind I could hold it for longer.

Despite the plan I knew within the first 10k of this race that I wasn’t going to hit 2.45 despite being slightly ahead of the pace required. My legs where feeling heavier than I had expected and I had to make the decision to change the target. I decided on a sub 2.50 and eased off ever so slightly. I still hit half way around 1.22 but knew I had to drop the pace even further to avoid blowing up completely. Around 14 miles I started to drop about 5 secs per mile and I was starting to think the wheels had begun to fall off. Fortunately by mile 18 I had managed to find a decent rhythm in my running and had found a pace I knew would bring me in well under the new target. The last 8 miles weren’t comfortable and I was trying my best to block everything out and just concentrate on running. I even missed Natalie screaming her head off in Canary Wharf (video footage available).

By 20 miles I could no longer stomach any jelly babies and the people shouting my name had become more of an annoyance than a help. The crowd support is awesome and is usually a massive help but by this stage I was just so focused on the finish. It was only when I reached Big Ben that I started to enjoy the surroundings again and realised where I was and what I was on the verge of achieving. The big sign saying 385 yards to go was very welcome. It was shortly after this that I passed a wobbly legged Chorlton Runner. He was still on his feet and moving forward as I passed, he dropped about 10 seconds after that and everyone knows what happened after that. I do wonder what would have happened if he had dropped just before I passed him. Would I have helped him? In the moment who knows! He was from Manchester though so the slightest chance of him being a United fan would have put me right off!

As I ran down the home stretch I knew I was coming in well under the new 2.50 target and was extremely happy to see the end in sight. I didn’t have the legs to hit my usual sprint finish although if I’d known I was on TV at the time I may have found something extra.

I finished in 2.48.25 to set a new PB by 5 mins and 32 secs. Not bad at all considering a tactical change early in the race. Whilst I hadn’t hit my initial target I was still over the moon with my time and know that anytime you finish a marathon you should be so proud of yourself no matter how long it takes. After all less than 1% of the population can say they’ve done it!

A massive well done to everyone else who completed the race and especially the other Red Rosers who all produced fantastic times.

A big thank you also to all the team that came simply to watch the marathon and offer their support to us. Natalie especially for turning up at a couple of different spots round the course to cheer me on. Hopefully it will be your turn next year!

Will I be back to do London again? On Sunday it was NEVER again, today it’s a maybe.

Next stop is to see what a couple of months of personal coaching can do for me. Step up Damian Clapham. I expect great things once my legs have forgiven me.

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