Virgin London Marathon 2014

In a bit to purge myself of the four hour plus marathon label, I decided to take the training a little bit more serious this time round. A 5 runs a week plan was created based on the usual long Sunday run with shorter, faster weekdays runs and a new twist of a tempo run on the Saturday to tire out the pins in advance of the long run - allegedly simulating making the long run the equivalent of the end of a much longer run. Well it sounded feasbile at the time and to be honest actually felt right for the duration of the training - so much so that I stuck to the plan.
So approx 75 sessions and 500 miles later I found myself at Ipswich station on Saturday morning, loaded up with tuna pasta, gels and flapjacks, off on my little adventure.
A nice brisk 3 mile walk from Liverpool St to the hotel in Lambeth gave me a chance to unwind and get rid of those pre race nerves. Walking over London Bridge I glanced down to Lower Thmes Street and could see the barriers in place, ready for Sunday. How different would it be in less than 24 hours I wondered.
Lower Thames Street on Saturday
Chilled and watched the Arsenal vs Wigan semi final while scoffing a massive bowl of Tuna & Pesto pasta and a load of sparking water - nom nom nom. Little evening stroll up to Vauxhall Bridge to see the river then off to bed by 10:00pm for a good nights kip.
Looking East from Vauxhall Bridge
Up early to fill up with more water and loads of Muesli and then the trip to Greenwich Park with an increasing number of people and rising excitement and nerves. Usual military like organisation - it really is well done - and dropped of the clothes bag and wandered up to pen 4 at 9.30 to start soaking up the atmosphere and make the most of, lets face it, one of the most epic races you can take part in.
Looking back from pen 4 to the end of the red start
10:00am and off we go with a race plan to make the most of the Runners World pacers and hang with him for as long as I could. I picked the 8:30 min/mile guy as this was faster than last time but not so fast that I might blow up later. This guy was awesome and hit the mile markers within a couple of seconds with little or no agressive changes of pace. Had I relied on my own garmin, people around me or my own unreliable pace it wouldn't have worked. The garmin fluctuated between an indicated 7 or 9 min/mile pace quite randomly. Other runners pace flucuated wildly and my own track record of self discipline is hopeless.
8 miles in my right calf got tight and I thought it was going to cramp up - but it just stayed like that all day and was bearable. Crowds were absolutely massive and the good weather seems to have bought out more than ever this year. Temperature started to rise from around 12ish and after Canary Wharf so a concerted effort to take on a bit more water than would have normally. Got to 22 and things started to hurt and I realised that I had picked a pace that was certainly going to be a challenge. Needed to give myself a bit of a talking to at this point and dig in and hang onto the relentless pacer who was now shouting encouragment to his entourage who were all going a bit quiet. Couple of gels, bit of water and a remider to "be awesome" (thank you Mr Brant for that one) did the trick and 4 more miles suddenly seemed achievable. Emptied the tanks completely along the Embankment and round St James Park and over the line in 3:43:49.
A short 10 minutes then followed of slight surrealness as the heat, emotion and the whole event caught up with me - but I did manage to pose for an endorphin rammed official photo...
Bit pleased with myself
Best stat - Over the final 7.2k I was over taken by 10 people but overtook 1076.
And I beat Michael Owen by over 2 minutes.

Splits for those that might be interested. Consistiency thanks to the awesome pacer.
SplitTime Of DayTimeDiffmin/kmkm/h
Finish time13:48:3603:43:4911:1505:0811.71