Virgin London Marathon 2015 – report

By Nigel Knuckey

On Friday morning I flew up to Gatwick from Newquay International Airport a day earlier than usual to meet up with family and friends. From the airport I took the train to Esher to meet up with my niece and family. We had a delicious spaghetti bolognaise dinner with her, her husband and kids, then on to hotel near the Olympic Park in Stratford, East London where other TRCers were staying.

Early the following morning I took the DLR train to the Ex Cel exhibition centre for registration and Expo- runners’ shopping fest. I was very abstemious. My only purchase was a few gels.  I then travelled across London to Putney to visit friends who prepared a very nice pasta bake for lunch.

That evening I met up with some of the other Truro marathoners and partners for dinner at Jamie’s Italian in the Westfield centre. I had …you guessed it…….pasta. A night of good food and good company. There was much discussion about our favourite pre race foods. My beetroot shots. Flapjack and Dextrosol for Sandie and bananas for Paul. In fact, according to Paul’s wife, Jacqui, he had a panic on the train. He left his bananas at home – Jacqui suggested they would probably have some in London. At the end of the evening as we parted company for an early night it was suggested if we didn’t see each other at the marathon we would meet at the club night at Trelissick on Wednesday. Chris’ wife Stella piped up “Trelissick or Treliske?”

We woke to perfect weather conditions- a dry, cool, overcast day. We arrived at Greenwich with an hour to spare. Paul and I were at the red start. The girls on blue. Paul and I prepared for the start. It was slightly drizzly by this time so we put on the bin bags we had brought along to keep ourselves dry only to find Paul’s was a pedal bin liner. He did say he had lost a lot of weight on training, but not that much!

My start was in pen 5, the sub 4 hour start. I spotted the two Runners World 4 hour pacers. I hadn’t planned to, but I thought I had just as well stick with them as sub 4 was my ultimate goal.

There was an amazing atmosphere as always. There was buzz about Paula Radcliffe’s last marathon at the start (surely soon to be Dame Paula Radcliffe). There was a great camaraderie amongst the competitors.

At 5 miles, over hydrated, I felt the need for a wee. I thought I would endure it until, much to my surprise, one of the pacers announced he was also rather stretched in the bladder department as well. So the pacer and I relieved ourselves against some railings. We caught up with the others and carried on feeling a little more comfortable. The pace being set suited me. I could keep up with the pacers quite comfortably.

My split time at half way was 01:59:43, which I was happy with. I felt very focused. The course was crowded, as usual especially as there was a record number of runners. At the start and at parts where the course narrowed at 14/ 16 miles it was particularly congested. It was probably more so because a large group of runners were running with the RW pacers.

I managed to keep up with the pace up to 19.5 miles. At that point my energy levels quite rapidly dropped. I couldn’t sustain the pace.  I think I hit the dreaded “wall”.   I gradually parted company with the pacing group.

As I completed the last six miles I felt as if more and more runners were overtaking me. At this point the wonderful crowds really do lift your spirits when you are at such a low ebb. With the high buildings and tunnels my Garmin was playing up. It was telling me that I had run half a mile more than I had which was a bit confusing.

As I approached the finish on the Mall I saw the “800 metres to go” sign. It was the longest 800 metres I have ever endured – like running through treacle. It was a massive relief, physically and emotionally, to finish.

I finished in 4 hours 11 minutes. I was hoping for a sub 4 hour time. It proved to be bit too optimistic. But I was content with my time, which was a couple minutes better than last time in 2013 and a lot better than the year before that. At the beginning of the year I wasn’t sure if would be there due to my training being curtailed by a hip problem before Christmas and a chest infection in the New Year. So, I wasn’t too disappointed.

On completing the marathon I headed on to the Reform Club, a historic, beautiful building in Pall Mall for the reception VICTA, the charity I ran for, put on for their 400 runners.  I had a double massage, two trainee masseuse one on each leg. One was really painful. One was gentle. It was quite a strange sensation.

On the way back to the hotel I stopped off at the Admiralty pub In Trafalgar Square.  I couldn’t resist having the free pint of London Pride beer provided as a voucher in the goody bag  It was one of the best pints I have had for a very long time. I felt I deserved it.

That evening had a very enjoyable meal. Funnily enough, I didn’t even consider pasta!

I travelled back on the Monday morning train with Sandie, Lisa and Juliet, having had a great weekend. My thoughts are now on entering the ballot for London 2016, my tenth marathon, after twenty years of running. To think I only started running to do a one off marathon as a “bucket list” experience. I had no intention of taking it up long term. It was indeed a slippery slope.

Nigel

Name Category HALF FINISH
Ramsey, Chris 60-64

01:52:32

03:55:29

Sly, Sandie 50-54

01:56:24

04:08:36

Medway, Jeffrey 40-44

02:00:16

04:10:11

Medway, Lucy 40-44

02:00:28

04:10:50

Knuckey, Nigel 55-59

01:59:43

04:11:16

Stewart, Juliet 50-54

01:56:14

04:12:22

Zanni, Steve 50-54

02:08:25

04:42:54

Treweek, David

55-59

02:21:00

04:52:59

Tripp, Lisa

18-39

02:31:12

05:21:07