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London Calling pt 2

April 24, 2011
At 9.45 on April 17th 2001 I moved toward the start line and 20 minutes later I began one of the biggest challenges of my life, a marathon. All the preparation helps, but nothing can prepare you for the feeling of crossing the start line, it’s special.
 
I went through 8 miles bang on plan (I was aiming for 10 minute miles), then the sun came out and the wheels wobbled. At halfway I was on track to hit all my goals (2.16), elated I pressed on (afterwards finding I’d forgotten to take my gels & drinks as planned), but at mile 17 the wheels fell off. A combination of the heat and discovering that I really should have respected the distance more led me to begin a run / walk strategy to finish.

I knew I had been in a bad way in Docklands as I totally missed 3 Spartan ladies shouting at me (5 including the twins!), I just thought Andy was a really popular name!

However Tracy Stiles caught my attention, you see there may be loads of Andy’s running London, but not too many Andy Prior’s so I noticed my first Spartan supporter.

My watch started going crazy in Docklands, at one point I was going at 3 minute mile pace next I wasn’t moving, which didn’t help. Plus the Lucozade drinks stations were tough to get through as the road was getting stickier the longer the race continued.

A huge thank you was to Hazey, Rich, Tracy and Andy for their support along the Embankment. Seeing the Spartan colours draped at 15ft and being relentlessly cheered on motivated me to the end.

I turned the corner of The Mall to see the finish line and managed to get across in 4.53.31, so I managed to hit goals 1, 2 and 3, just number 4 has evaded me for now.

Then to find my bag and find the Spartans, another great reception and lots of friendly faces giving heaps of praise. Interestingly I found that most of the really experienced runners were 20 minutes off their projected times mainly due to the heat, however all the other runners weaving, stopping in your way and dropping bottles in the middle of the road didn’t help to maintain a rhythm.

So many great memories, the booing at 3 miles when the starts merge, the ghost pub, so many different smells (not always legal), every pub you passed having a sound system, being offered a beer at every pub, the fancy dress runners including the ‘ginger bread man’ who I ran most of the way with, along with the sound of “run run as fast as you can you can’t catch him he’s the gingerbread man!”

The Fab four showing off their medals after VLM 2011
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