Race Report: London Marathon

Source: mirror.co.uk

You know you’re having a bad race when someone running in flip flops overtakes you. Then a runner in a mankini. You get the gist.

Funny, because I’d taken training for this race a lot more seriously than for previous marathons. Following a proper plan, putting in numerous 20+ mile training runs, incorporating regular interval and tempo runs. I even shunned alcohol for the final two weeks before the race, although this decision was probably borne more out of superstition than logic. These may sound like normal things to do when training for a marathon. I only mention them because for my previous four marathons, I must confess I’d never ran more than 16 miles in training. I even ran a personal best time the week after drinking my body weight in free alcohol at a friend’s wedding and spending the next day in bed with a stinking hangover.

So this time I felt like I’d nailed the pre-race prep. Come race day, conditions were perfect. The sun was out and the blustery wind had dropped. My pre-race nerves had almost dissipated come Friday evening when I visited the expo. I even managed to avoid buying any new running gear (bar some bargain Clif shot blocks). I was finally getting excited about race day. After some pre-race baking, bike cleaning and nail-painting (in that order) to keep myself distracted on Saturday, I couldn’t have felt more ready.

Making my way to the start area on race morning in the glorious sunshine, I felt as ready as you can ever feel when about to embark on 26.2 miles. Chatting to a fellow runner in my start pen, I barely noticed the clock tick over to 10:00 and the muffled start horn sound.

For the first six miles of the race the course was busy and I was swept along by other runners. The seven minute-mile pace I was aiming for felt comfortable and I fell into a rhythm, both physically and mentally.

But by mile nine, I felt a dull ache in my thighs. Nothing as serious as an injury, just the onset of fatigue. It felt too early for that and I mentally consoled myself. You’ve done 23 mile runs in training! You can do this. Then I spotted my husband, who’d started the race in a different start area, about 20 metres ahead of me. I tried to call out to him but he didn’t hear.

With hindsight, this was where the mental cracks started to open and self-doubt set in. Knowing I still had over 15 miles to run, alone. Forcing down water and energy gels in an attempt to fuel my body just resulted in a nauseous feeling in my stomach. I chanted, “dig deep” over and over in my head. But as I saw the 3:15 pace maker pass me around the 19 mile mark, I knew that not only had my race goal slipped away, a PB seemed unlikely too.

I promised myself I wouldn’t dwell on the negatives. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed with my time and performance. That I didn’t break down when I met my husband on the finish line. I wanted to put on a brave face, but emotions got the better of me.

Because there are so many positives to be drawn from the day. The race organisation was faultless and the privilege of taking part cannot be put into words. The atmosphere was incredible and the wall of sound created by supporters was indescribable. I only wish I could individually thank everyone that came out to cheer on runners, not to mention the volunteers that made the race possible. I am also incredibly grateful to friends and family for their patience and support in the lead up to the marathon and on race day (especially my Mum for standing guard when I had to lie down on the pub floor under a fruit machine, post-race, when the nausea resurged unexpectedly!).

It also helped give me perspective on what running is really about. It reminded me that it is a distance to be respected. It is a massive undertaking and an incredible achievement just to finish a marathon.

So a huge well done to everyone that ran the London Marathon yesterday. I really hope it was everything you wanted it to be.

24 thoughts on “Race Report: London Marathon

  1. Rhona @ redwinerunner.com

    I’m sorry to hear you didn’t get the race you worked so hard for; your disappointment is clear from reading this 🙁 Races are tricksy beasts and what ought to work just sometimes doesn’t! Some days you’re the pigeon, other days you’re the statue…
    No dwelling on it though! It’s another marathon and countless more miles in your legs which can only lead to better things. Recover well and set your sights on the next one – what’s for you won’t pass you!

    Reply
    • catsimpson0

      Thanks, Rhona – that’s such a beautiful expression about the pigeon and the statue! It’s very true though and I will definitely be entering more races with less pressure to get PBs!

      Reply
  2. Kay

    You love running for running … pb’s are just an added bonus. You are brilliant and have achieved so much. Very proud of your result yesterday … well done!! x

    Reply
    • catsimpson0

      Thanks lovely, I am chuffed too, just felt a bit emotional in the heat of it all yesterday. But onwards and upwards. Hope you’re injury’s OK and that we can run again soon xx

      Reply
  3. paulkdesigner

    I’m sure you’ve said everything that needs saying to yourself, you know you ran a good time, you know you did yourself proud and yet you are kicking yourself, but the next race is just round the corner and you’ll come back and kick bigger badder arse! Congratulations on a great time and well fought race. Stay focused on the outstanding positives and a great medal

    Reply
  4. Sarah

    I’m sorry to hear that your hugely dedicated training plan didn’t pay off in the huge PB you deserved- but the mental resilience you showed to dig deep and finish will carry you over the finish line of your Autumn marathon in a cracking PB time, I’m certain! Be proud of your achievement yesterday: it was huge.

    Reply
    • catsimpson0

      Thanks, Sarah! I think I will be returning to my slightly disorganised training plan supplemented by beers and junk food! But seriously, while I’ve got the miles in my legs i will definitely be entering more races, hopefully some with fast friends that can pace me round this time!

      Reply
    • catsimpson0

      Sorry to hear that, but WELL DONE! You still ran a marathon, which is something that most people can’t/won’t every do! Don’t lose sight of that – you’ve still achieved an amazing thing.

      Reply
  5. kat_rocket

    You are still my hero Cat. I think the thing that all us runners have to realise is that we can be prepared all we want it’s what happens on the day that counts. But you didn’t give up when it got tough. I think you would have felt much worse about things if you had dropped out. If anything I think this shows just how tough you are mentally. Maybe you were a bit fatigued, maybe you’ve got a little virus hanging around. You probably won’t know what happened but like you say plenty of other races and at least you got to experience the amazing phenomenon that is the London Marathon.

    Reply
    • catsimpson0

      Thank you, Kathleen – that’s all very true (and I was v tempted to stop at times!). It was a massive privilege to run such an amazing race and I can’t wait to do it all again despite the setbacks!

      Reply
  6. Liz

    You are bloomin’ awesome, Cat Simpson! I have so much admiration for you – your marathon times are amazing. When I grow up, I want to be as good a marathoner as you!

    I know it sucks when you don’t quite make the time-cut. You’ll smash it at another race though – I know you will! Huzzah!

    Reply
    • catsimpson0

      Thanks, Liz! You are also an amazing runner and those are very wise words. I will be treating it as a practice run and lining up another one in future, for sure!

      Reply
  7. Sarah F

    Aww Cat. It can be so disappointing especially when it’s a marathon and you’ve put so much training in … (hugs) But on the plus side is still a flippin’ AWESOME time!! And you got to run London! And got a medal! Woo woo!!

    p.s. if the fruit machine didn’t automatically do the jackpot noise and light up and shoot coins all over you when you had to lie down under it in the pub then my faith in cartoons is shattered.

    Reply
    • catsimpson0

      Thank you, Sarah! I’m still pretty chuffed but definitely looking to target another race for a faster time – will make sure I have a speedy friend to pace me though!

      Never fear, I will restore your faith in cartoons by bouncing back from adversity (bit like cartoon characters do when they jump straight up after being hit by a truck) and will carrying on running!!

      Reply
  8. JenJ

    I can only repeat what everyone else already said up there: well done on an amazing race, even if you didn’t get your PB. And just to help you put things into perspective: you ran a ‘crap’ race in a time that I will most certainly never, ever achieve. Your ‘crap’ is still so above the average for most of us middle-of-the-pack runners that you have no reason not to be super-duper proud of yourself (did that help to guilt you into feeling better about your race?! Always works with my mom… 😉 ). There you have it. Now go and enjoy some beers and burgers and I’m sure next time you’ll smash that PB!!! 🙂

    Reply
    • catsimpson0

      Thank you, Jen (yes, it did guilt me into feeling better, as I no way do look down on slower runners or consider 3:29 to be a ‘crap’ time!) Yet another thing that makes me realise I shouldn’t winge is seeing the frustation of injured runners that want to run but can’t run and I’m extremely grateful for my little legs for not giving up on me (yet). 😉

      Reply
      • JenJ

        Mission accomplished! 😉 You’re a machine and a pretty amazing runner. If you ever need another guilt trip, you know where to find me.

        Reply
  9. zoecakes

    Sorry to hear your marathon didn’t turn out as you wanted it too (seems to have been a bit of a theme this year) but you finished and I am sure you will come back stronger in your next race! 😉

    Reply

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