Squeaky Bum Time
Back in October 2011 I received a red envelope through the post bearing what could be deciphered as on the one hand good news, and on the other bad; My speculative entry into the London Marathon had somehow got through the ballot, and I had a much sought after place on the starting line. It wasn’t a difficult decision to accept the opportunity, and for the last 6 months (and in particular the last 17 weeks) I’ve been in training for the big day on April 22nd. In some ways, taking part in the London Marathon will be a major milestone on the journey to fitness that I started back in May 2010.
The Sunday just passed marked two weeks to go, and as I headed out on my 16 mile run around Richmond Park and Wimbledon Common, I got my first bout of pre-race nerves! It’s definitely what Sir Alex Ferguson would describe as ‘Squeaky Bum Time’ – the hard miles have been run through the winter, and now its a case of balancing my training and life over the next 12 days – running the right amount of miles to retain my fitness without losing too much of the endurance I have built up since the New Year.
The training has gone pretty well; Scheduled rest days aside, I’ve only missed 9 days of running through injury/illness, and in the last couple of months I’ve started to see the results of a structured running programme really pay off – my 5km PB has gone from 17.48 (set in November 2011) to 17.06, set on this past Saturday; I followed up an 81.58 Half Marathon in Marrakech with a similar paced run over 16 miles at the Kingston Breakfast Run. My aim of breaking 3 hours feels achievable, although the uncharted territory of running beyond 20 miles is a big contributing factor to my pre race nerves!
I’d highly recommend spectating on the day; Even if you’re not particularly interested in running, I would challenge anyone to not feel inspired and humbled by the sheer effort being put in by the 35000 participants; From the seemingly effortless glide of the elite athletes to the wave after wave of charity runners passing by in varying states of fatigue. The atmosphere and energy that flows between the participants and the spectators is amazing.
If you’re organised, you can catch your friends at 2-3 points on the course without too much difficulty, although if you’re cheering someone on who’s expecting to run between 4-5 hours, then expect the tube stations to be pretty busy. Last year I saw my friends Rob, Jon and Mike at mile 9 (Canada Water Station on the Jubilee Line), miles 15 and 19 (Canary Wharf Station on the Jubilee Line) and mile 25.5 by Westminster Bridge (Westminster Station on the Jubilee Line). The first two viewing points were easy to get to and there was plenty of space to spectate with clear lines of sight; Westminster was a bit of a scrum though, and if you’re in a group it might be quite hard to find space to watch. There’s much more spectator information on the London Marathon website.
If you choose to follow my viewing recommendations, and think that you might actually want to see me suffering, then if all goes to plan I should pass by at the following approximate times; bear in mind that these times may vary by a few minutes – the marathon uses a chip timing system, so although the official start is 9.45am, it might take me a minute or so to get over the start line! Also, the first couple of miles might be clogged up with slower runners. Finally, there’s no guarantee that I won’t have a complete disaster and hit the wall!
April 22nd (start time 9.45, Blackheath) – I’m planning on running around 6.45 per mile.
Canada Water, Mile 9: 10.45
Canary Wharf, Mile 15: 11.25-27
Canary Wharf, Mile 19: 11.53-54
Westminster, Mile 25.5: 12.35-36
The Mall, 26.2 Miles: hopefully before 12.45, with a dream run being 12.41!
If you’re at any of those spots around those times, look out for a very sweaty man in a garish green Bliss Charity running vest:
Bliss are a great charity who fundraise to support babies who are born too soon, too small and too sick. I chose to run for Bliss after my nephew Max was born 11 weeks premature in 2008. Thanks to the amazing care that he received in the Special Care Baby Unit at Whipps Cross Hospital, Max is now a crazy 3 yr old with a love of Fireman Sam, Cycling and Football. Bliss strives for all premature and sick babies and their families to have the best possible care and support. You can sponsor me in the marathon by visiting my Virgin Money Giving page.
Finally – I’ll definitely be going for a post race pint somewhere; I’ve not decided where yet, but I’ll definitely be putting a shout out via my twitter account and on facebook. If you think it would be amusing to see a 6ft 2 man hammered on a pint and a half, then it might be worth popping down to say hello.