Well that was a bit of a nightmare, but pretty much as expected. This was my first attempt at running after 3 weeks with a virus. And I'd been off work during the week with viral fatigue and painful sinuses.
The day before I'd managed a slow walk around Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens that wiped me out, so I wasn't really planning 100% on running the marathon. Or at least I couldn't see how I could possibly run 26 miles, when I was shattered after walking round a park.
But anyhow, I got up early on Sunday morning and walked up to Shepherd's Bush tube only to find that the station was helpfully shut. I thought this might an omen that I wasn't meant to go, but I spotted a No.49 bus pulling away onto Holland Park Roundabout and reckoned I could intercept it on Holland Road. The 50 metre dash across the road was my first run in 3 weeks and sent my heart into palpitations and left me in pools of sweat. I then felt quite ill on the bus and tube and train approaching Blackheath, feeling alienated from the buzz and excitement around me, and hoping I wouldn't see anyone I knew.
I arrived around 8.30am, in plenty of time to see the elite women's start and to generally mooch around, but finding the idea of running unthinkable.
At 9.20am I finally wandered into the Good for Age area at the Red Start where I bumped into Dave Henderson from my work. I told Dave that I felt awful and wasn't sure whether to run. He said he'd been off work with flu for 2 weeks, but was planning to run. I then saw Ellie who immediately assumed I was running, and the next thing I knew I was jammed into the starting area with my bag on the bus, and feeling slightly committed.
It didn't feel like a good idea to be starting the race, but I trundled off and used my Garmin to try to hold a pace around 4:00/km for as long as possible.
This worked fine up until about 20km, but once I hit Tower Bridge at mile 12 I suddenly felt dreadful and all I could think about was pulling out. I realised at this point there was no way I could run for another 14 miles.
The only saving grace was that I'd caught Dave Henderson and I thought perhaps we could pool resources and keep each other going. But it was getting so hot by this stage, neither of us were very chatty. I told Dave I felt awful and was thinking of dropping out. Dave seemed to be suffering just the same, so I felt I should carry on.
Normally from Mile 15 to 22 I have absolutely no idea where the race is heading, but this year I'd taken the trouble to plot the route in Gmap Pedometer, so I had a vague notion which direction we were heading as the route snakes through Canary Wharf.
I reached 20 miles in 2:15, and immediately knew I'd blown 3 hours, since none of my kilometre splits were now under 4:30, and I'd need to run a sub 45 minute 10k from here to the end which was not going to happen. I was more concerned with getting to the end before I collapsed with heat exhaustion and overwhelming fatigue.
Mile 21 to the end was a blur. I tried to taken water, lucozade and gels at every drinks station, but each time got closer and closer to stopping altogether, and then had to work harder to get going again. At Mile 22 I went for water and got clobbered from behind sending my right hamstring into excruciating cramp. I hobbled across to the other side of the road and stretched my hamstring until I could get running again.
Any thoughts of striding out along Thames Embankment were abandoned. By now it was just a waiting game for it all to be over. I assumed Ellie would be overtaking at any moment, so kept glancing each shoulder as the runners streamed past.
With less than a mile to go, as we turned onto Parliament Square the familiar figure of Kate Jenkins came beasting past. I made a half-baked effort to track her up Birdcage Walk, but didn't want to collapse or pull up with cramp at this stage. Passing in front of Buckingham Palace I heard the loud speakers announce the arrival of James Cracknell who I'd been running beside for a while, but he must have pulled away.
I also spotted a Metro Aberdeen vest of the guy I'd been chatting to at the start directly in front aiming for the far lefthand finishing gate, so I followed him as the clock was counting up from 3:04.
The end result was I finished in 3:04:20, but I found this race far, far tougher than any of my previous marathons completed 10 minutes faster.