Monday, 23 April 2012

London Marathon 2012

It's everything everyone tells you it is, it's amazing, inspiring, emotional, it's the London marathon.
It's still not sunk in that I've run one of the biggest and most famous marathon's in the world, it seems like a dream but then that's probably because I'm still half asleep.

The walk from Maze Hill station
Everything for me personally went like clockwork, from getting up in the morning (I didn't sleep well) to getting the train to Waterloo. From then on it's easy, you go into auto pilot and follow the crowd. I followed the masses over to Waterloo East where we boarded the overground train. I was in the red start so had the option of going to Greenwich or Maze Hill station. Go to Maze Hill because everyone got off at Greenwich leaving the train nice and empty and from Maze Hill a pleasant (though hilly) quiet walk to the start.

I was proudly running on behalf of the British Heart Foundation who had exclusive use of the Pavilion Tea House adjacent to the start of the race. This was ideal, while the other competitors shivered in the early morning sun, we were nice and warm with food and water and more importantly toilets. This was relaxing and was a chance to meet and talk to fellow BHF runners.

BHF HQ for the morning
Lorries await near the start for runners to drop of their belongings before they are driven to the end. Well done to all the baggage workers for making this run like clockwork. At 9:30 it was time to join the masses at the start line. We were all within pens numbered 1 to 9 depending on what time you were hoping to finish. I was in pen 5, about half way down and nervously awaited the start. It took about 10 minutes to walk to the start line and then we were off!

On your marks, get (in about 10 minutes!)
I was surprised how fast we set off and got into pace straight away, I was expecting even after crossing the start line for it to be slow, so was pleased to get off to a good start. The first few miles were a blur, and I just kept looking around trying to take in the atmosphere and that I was really here running the London marathon. After the first few miles you then meet up with the runners from the blue and green starts. This was amusing as we all booed the other start colours as we merged.

The crowds began to grow as we made our way through Charlton and Bermondsey and the support was great through here with live bands and plenty of cheering.

After mile 3, water stops are every mile with 3 Lucozade stops throughout the race, so it's easy enough to keep yourself well hydrated. Mile 6 and we passed the first landmark, the newly restored Cutty Sark. Here I took on my first gel, and everything was going along nicely.

The miles continued to flash past with so much going on around you and we were soon approaching half way. This was probably one of my favourite moments when we crossed Tower Bridge. It was amazing and the support was great too. I even managed to fumble with my phone and grab a shot!

It was after crossing the bridge that I felt a queasy and was worried that so early in the race I had hit a bit of trouble. But the second gel soon kicked in and I was feeling OK again, it was now though that the reality kicked in that I was running 26.2 miles and not a tourist sight seeing for the day!

This is always a great point to reach mentally as now I could begin the mind games to dwindle down the miles. I picked up a pace band at the Expo which listed out my times I needed to hit each mile for a 3 hour 55 minute finish and at this stage I was about a minute and a half ahead of time.

The next point to get to was 15 miles ( I could get a Lucozade) then 18 miles (I could have another gel) then 20 miles (This mile starts with a 2! and I had a 10K race to go). As I went through these miles I was now beginning to really tire, but this is when you can tune into the amazing support. I tended to generally run in the centre of the road, but word of advice, if you need a pick me up better than a gel, put your name on your top run close to the crowds and get the unbelievable buzz of people shouting your name at you. For the first time in my life I experienced what it must be like to be a top athlete and the buzz they must get from this. I can also understand why football clubs sometimes call their fans the twelve man if they are playing at home. So to everyone you shouted a "C'mon Ian C", thank you, it made all the difference and got me to my goal. The BHF had support areas along the course and they were brilliant too.

Amazing crowd support
I was drifting off my 3:55 finish time mile by mile and even the dream of a sub 4 hour time was fading but when I got to mile 25 and was fortunate enough to grab a group hug with my family, suddenly I found a missing gear and powered my way to the finish past Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, putting in my fastest mile of the race.

I had 3 objectives for this race: 1) To get a sub 4 hour finish time. If not then 2) Run the whole race without walking. If not then 3) Enjoy the moment. I was fortunate enough to tick all 3 off.

I came in at a time of 3:58:50, not a lot to spare but never the less I'd done it.

I proudly collected my medal and made my way to collect my belongings (again this was like clockwork). The next plan was to find somewhere to change. I don't know if I was meant to use them and thinking back I don't think I was meant to, but close to the finish line was a porta cabin with some doors. One door was open, and I thought they were toilets. This would be the ideal place to change but was pleasantly surprised to find myself in an individual changing room with Shower! This was the perfect end to the perfect race.

Refreshed I then made my way to the meet and greet area to meet my family and Tim (@jedirider) who had made the trip up to watch. The meet and greet area, as you can imagine is hectic but there was some order in that it was divided up into area's with letters for your surname. After some refreshments and chat it was then home with the family and a big celebration KFC party! (Well I had just burnt of 2600 calories!!!)

Huge thank yous go out to my amazing family for their support and donations. Everyone else who sponsored me. My Twitter running family (you know who you are!) Brian for keeping me company on my runs and at the Expo. Tim for the company on those long Sunday training runs,The BHF and the London crowds (you done the capital proud) and everyone who takes the time out to read my little blog.

It's now time for some rest and some chill out running with no pressure and then plan for the next adventure!


  1. Great report!!! Enjoyed the read, It must have been such an amazing experience!!! Just wanted to say and I can definately speak for all the family that came along, what a pleasure it was to be a part of the crowd and show our support. Theres always a buzz when you visit any event in London but this time was paricularly memorable as we were all there together as a family for such an important event and you were the reason why. So congratulations again from us all on an amazing achievement. 3hr 58 was a great time!! Keep up the good work and keep the faith!!!
    With Love from your (fave) neice !!!

    ps my peppercorn sauce is better than yours :-)

  2. Fantastic time, Coach! Well done. Looking forward to hearing all about your next marathon plan! Well done again! Jo.T

  3. Awesome time well done! It was the support that got me through the last 3 miles too. Great race report.

  4. Well done Ian. I've been following your build up for weeks now. Have to say, that was one of those posts you scroll down to the end first, straight to the spoiler. Brilliant, well done.

    Get something in the diary and build on your good work


  5. Well done Ian!! Sub 4 isn't easy and requires a LOT of hard work, you earned it.
    So what's next?? (apart from pizza and beer...)

  6. Just read you blog well done mate sub 4 hour marathon what´s next new yorsk marathon? Sean

  7. Congratulations! Fun post to read!