Cajsa brings us tales of The Fellsman
The Elite Women's start list for Virgin Money London Marathon is here and you can see their kit too. Interestingly, only 5 countries are represented this year compared to 11 last year. I suppose the CWG's contributed to that.
UK: Tracy Barlow, Lily Partridge, Rebecca Murray
USA: Rebecca Wade, Stephanie Bruce, Liz Costello
Kenya: Mary Keitany, Gladys Cherono, Brigid Kosgei, Vivian Cheruiyot
Ethiopia:Tirunesh Dibaba, Mare Dibaba, Tigist Tufa, Tadelech Bekele
Bahrain: Rose Chelimo
The press conference has happened and LetsRun have shared some of it online (below). It's quite hard to hear and nothing earth shattering other that maybe Tirunesh Dibaba saying she started her build up-late.
GB Marathon debut:
FastRunning have got an interview with 23 year old Rebecca Murray who is making her marathon debut on the elite start. Murray (Bedford & County) is coached by Paula Radcliffe's coaches Alex and Rosemary Stanton and ran 73:59 at the Big Half recently. As FR point out, "Great Britain has an impressive knack of producing athletes who have posted top class times on their marathon debuts, with the famous groundbreaking stars from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s such as Steve Jones, Charlie Spedding, Ron Hill and Mike Gratton, Paula Radcliffe, Mara Yamauchi, Jo Pavey and Liz Nuttall (nee McColgan) – to name but a few The women have been joined in the last decade by Charlotte Purdue, who recorded 2:30:04 in Frankfurt two years ago (now improved to 2:29:23), Sonia Samuels’ 2:30:56 in 2012 (now 2:28:04) and Lily Partridge’s 2:32:09 in Seville last year."
Rebecca has also spoken to Lets Get Running podcast about the race and about how to deal with mid-race demons
Other GB elites:
Tracy Barlow is the more experienced of the other GB elites with 12 races completed, whereas Lily Partridge is on her third startline after a strong debut in Seville but a DNF in Berlin following an injury in the build up.
Tracy recently ran in the World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia, running a new personal best time of 72:35 and finishing 43rd, so that will be a big confidence booster. Her PR is faster than Lily in the Marathon, but not in the half.
It'll be interesting to see how Lily gets on. After running 71:05 in The Big Half for second behind Charlotte Purdue she's been out training Murcia, SE Spain for 5 weeks. It also looks like training has been going well for her (from Insta and Twitter) and of course the hot weather shouldn't be as much of a shock to her as some of the other runners who have been training in the UK through winter (though obviously that's mainly the club runners and not those elites used to training in Africa). You can hear Lily on Marathon talk here.
Sadly, Charlotte Purdue had to pull out due to a thigh injury sustained at the above mentioned World Half Champs
I'll add to this tomorrow with more about the other athletes.
So there it was. My last marathon for a year, at least. Gulp.
Gulp, for a variety of reasons.
Gulp, for the uncertainty I mentioned in my preview post that meant I felt like a newbie marathoner again. Gulp, for the concern that however much I know it's fine to run a marathon when pregnant and I'd had a backup go-ahead from the ultrasound-scan-doctor only 5 days before, still what if something happened? Finally, gulp, because this is my happy place and for all the talk of not relying on running to find my joy (and I don't, there's more to life) this still remains a comfort zone of endorphin filled smiles for me and a place where I've found that I might occasionally be something a smidgen more than average and now I will have to put my money where my mouth is and enjoy what running my body and new permanent job will allow and take it as it comes. But underlying all of that, the bubbling excitement that I get to run a marathon and heck well, let's do this.
--Sorry: a bit of an epic write up. Skip to the bottom for splits ----
We stayed with friends in the Wirral the night before and thanks to my Florence time I had Elite entry which meant guaranteed free parking onsite (others could park but had to pay £3) , indoor changing area, loos and even food afterwards. Jackpot! However, we had just polished off our pasta (not too much) dinner when I received an email from the organiser saying that due to the rain the previous day, they were not offering parking onsite anymore. On checking with my race-liasion lady (who was answering emails at 10pm - legend!) she confirmed that we might not be able to park unless we got there at 6.15am. Argh! We looked at train and other options but decided to just hope for the best and arrive at 7.30 as planned and see what happened. I don't think I would have been that chilled if I was gunning for a PB.
Race morning and Mr B seemed pretty chilled. We drove to the racecourse and straight into a free parking spot, the organisers were doing a fantastic job. I didn't hear of a single person having trouble finding a space somewhere.
The weather had been saying rain at different times with varying strength on and off during the preceding week and the morning was a mild, grey one. Not bad marathon weather. The elite space was brill - ok the ladies only had one loo because you don't get many female jockeys, but there wasn't enough people for it to be an issue. Tea, coffee and seats were provided for a host of terriflyingly speedy looking runners, many of them in England vests because it was the inaugural England Age Group Marathon. I even had time to meet Cathy, another Full Potential runner who went on to storm her firstmarathon (and yes Cathy, I'm jealous you're off to Florence)
At 8.45 after even more loo-stops than usual (hello pregnancy bladder) we were walked to the start line. Mr B and I ducked out of the Elite pen and back a few rows to get near his 3:15 pacer (I stood nearish, but not near enough to be running with him. As it happened, we all shuffled up and I ended up starting a bit ahead of him in the pens, despite being sure that 3:30 was an optimistic target. I had thought a few times before that it would be nice to justify my place in the elite entry by getting 3:15 (though it's sub 3 for a free place) but my main thought was that a London Good For Age and BQ while pregnant was quite a nice aim.
Ben FP and I had chatted before and agreed that because I take longer to get into stride now, I'd go out at about 8'00/mi but not look at the watch and then ease it up if I felt good and not go under 7'00/mi (ha!). I was nervous before starting as I'd not run more than 13miles for many weeks and a lot changes each week when you're putting on kgs here and there!
Up out of the race course and into the streets of Chester, the marathon calm descended on me almost straight away. As always, I found the patter of feet and breathing of those around me almost meditative. I was surprised at how quickly we hit an uphill but kept pottering on and enjoying the modest crowds through the town centre. First mile at 7'32 - a bit fast but fine, I can settle down now. Down past the Cathedral and off to cross the river and head out of town. I stopped looking at my watch, and now looking back I see I did a 6'58 there, but it was down hill so it doesn't really count. The next few miles I can't really remember other than hearing the 3:15s chatting behind me at one point and thinking that I might as well stay ahead if I felt fine as I had no idea what the later miles would feel like.
I was surprised by how quickly the time I'd normally take my first gel (High Five, Orange) crept up (about 45mins in - just over 6 miles). In past races I've been completely ready for it, waiting for it in fact, but this time I waited a bit longer because I didn't feel the need yet (though obviously you have to pre-empt the need for the fuel). I ended up running with a bit of a group and we exchanged a few comments and a bit of a discussion about two of them going to Comrades next year.
At some point just after this I ended up chatting to a guy called Dean Allaway. He was running his 98th marathon and we had a lovely time talking about all the different races he'd done and various marathon experiences. He had a cold so was looking for the 3:15-3:30 mark, tops and we realised we were a bit towards the top end of that but it just felt good chatting and running. It's funny - before we started talking I wouldn't have said I could keep the pace AND have a conversation, but clearly I could!
At around mile 10 you cross into Wales, though I clearly wasn't paying attention! The weather was still grey and pleasant and there were little pockets of supporters along the way. The water stations were well stocked (with tiny bottles, not cups - yey!) but I saw a few people (actually, I think all wearing England vests) walking back the other way. I normally take my next gel at 1:20 so being a creature of habit, that's what I did, though not the whole thing. I took a couple of sips of water at every aid station as I was conscious that the main advice for pregnant ladies is that you need to stay well hydrated.... which is ironic giving the need for the loo all the time!
Miles 13-15 are the the only section where it loops and you get to see runners coming the other way. I love this on marathon courses as you get a real boost shouting for each other, especially on the quieter races. I was feeling the effort in my knees now - something I've not had before, but I guess it's the change in gait and extra weight. I wondered how long I'd keep up the pace for as I was still averaging under my 7'27/mi, which I knew was Mr B's target pace for 3:15.
Back through Holt and Farndon and out of Wales again, there were some good crowds and a couple of bands to give a boost. A good thing too, since there was a kicker of a hill at just before mile 17 and 2 hrs in. I later found out that this was the point where Mr B really suffered, and I'll be honest I nearly stopped and walked but I was still really enjoying it and I didn't want to stop unless it was for health reasons. I also knew that it was time to take some of the next gel at around the 2 hr mark, so it was something to give me a boost (by the way, Torq Rhubarb and Custard are surprisingly nice!)
After that, the next few miles were more effort but still comfortable and we were joined by the Metric Marathon runners coming the other way. Again, I found this a real help as it gave me new people to pull me along. It's funny though how different people's minds work different ways, as Mr B found it really dispiriting seeing fresh looking people at this point.
I was wondering when we'd get back into Chester and also thinking about the famed hill at mile 24, but still cheering other runners and enjoying the countryside. It's never *easy* doing the last 6 miles of a marathon, so I'd be lying if I said I wasn't thinking about a nice sit down at points, but in general it felt comfy. I had a few chats with the bump/hitch-hiker along the way and told him that he just needed to give me a good kick if he wasn't happy and I'd stop right then! It had started drizzling by now and I was quite glad of the coolness. I had a caffeine gel which I could take for extra oomph at the end if I wanted but I decided not to bother as I felt like I'd had plenty of sugar by then.
It's not until miles 23/24 that you start to get back into the city and by now people were starting to egg each other on to hit times. I eased off the pace a bit in the hope I'd see the 3:15 crew and saw a few people I'd chatted to further back. At this point I was taken under the wing of a very sweet guy who told me to 'leave it all out there'. I didn't have the heart to tell him I wasn't planning to do that today! He told me that the 3:15's were way back (implying they were far off pace) and so I figured I might as well just try and sneak in under it. Mile 24 was actualy quite a bit of incline, but they have "race angels' who run from the bottom of the hill to the top with you and then send you on your way. A really nice idea.
Round the corner, down along the river and despite the drizzle there was a good turn out lining the route back to the racecourse. I knew I had 3:15 in my sights and couldn't quite believe it, so it was great to relax into the finish. You enter the race course on the bend and run the final section on grass. This was largely ok, though a bit squidgy and I hear it got really boggy later, which is pretty tough at the end of a marathon! As I came down the home straight I even managed to put in a tiny spurt of speed and over take a couple of people.
I crossed the line in 3:13:08 - a time that a year ago would have been disappointing, but which I'm stoked about. More to the point I had an absolute blast. I could have carried on running at the end too.
I stopped as soon as I got over the line to wait for the 3:15 gang to come in. They just about timed it perfectly, as did the 3:30's but no Mr B. It was hard to know whether to wait or go and get my phone so in the end I dashed back to the elite area to grab my bag. On the way I bumped into our mate Aaron who was also running but was in need of a sit down and some sugar, so he came with me (thanks to the organisers for letting him in). Shortly after, Mr B rocked up looking his cheeky self and fine. He'd been bang on pace for the first 13 miles, then had to ease it off a bit and then mile 17-20 just wasn't happening for him. At this point the rain had started and he got too cold so he got the refuge bus back to base.
A shower, some sandwiches and some friendly chats with the winner of the ladies Metric race (who donated her champagne to Aaron) we set off home. I'm sad Mr B didn't get the race he deserved but I think it was just one of those days.
Oh, and the hitch-hiker has been plenty active since, so he's obviously not too annoyed with me for dragging him on a 26.2 mile trip and a VLM Championship qualifying time. Now, it's time to put my money where my mouth is and just enjoy running as and when I can and enjoy supporting Mr B on his journey to VLM 2018.
|Splits||Avg Pace||Avg HR|
The "Top Tips for First Time Boston Marathon Runners" or even "10 things you need to know about the Boston Marathon" would be a useful blog post right now, wouldn't it? But we all know I'm not that calm or organised (unless you've been ignoring ALL my instagram, strava and twitter -ing) so instead of a lovely, useful, very predictable article, I'm going to highlight some of the things I don't know, estimate the answers and then report back with after the event.
1. What am I going to do between 6am getting on the bus at starting at 10am?
Will I be bored or will it just fly by? Will I have the right amount of food with me? Should I risk eating bagels etc while I'm waiting in Hopkinton? How cold am I going to get? How many times will I have to go to the loo?
Estimated answers: both, yes, no, pretty cold, about 5.
2. What happens between the time that you leave for your starting corral an actually setting off?
According to the official info on wave and corral start times, we're leaving the race village a full 55 minutes before we set off. I know there's a 0.7 mile walk to the start and there's loos along the way (maybe let's upgrade that 5 to a 6) but will it really take nearly an hour?
Estimated answer: there'll be a portal to another world that we disappear into for a bit. Or maybe that's a portaloo?
3. Will I regret not doing the 5k on the Saturday, the pre-race pasta party or the post-race Boston Marathon Mile 27 party?
There's a 5k race on the Saturday before the 26.2 on Monday. Lots of people have said it's really fun and helps get into the spirit of it all. I'm conscious that I've already hijacked our holiday and that we are staying with friends of friends, so I'm not doing any extra bits and bobs. I'll go for a run on my own though. Then there's the pre-race pasta party and the post race "Mile 27" one which is held at the Red Sox stadium. Both of these are free for me and I can purchase another ticket if I want. These fall into the same category as above at the moment so as things stand I'm sticking to the one thing.
Estimated answer: Yes absolutely. I will be kicking myself and having major FOMO about absolutely everything. If the race goes well I won't care about the pre-race bits but I'll wish we could go to the party. If it doesn't go well I'll be annoyed about the pre-race bits but won't care about the party. 2 days later I suspect I won't mind about any of it.
4. What will the weather be like?
Well, the list of conditions in previous years shows that it's always pretty variable and the runner's passport says to be prepared for crosswinds at mile 17. Over the past few weeks it's been anything between -4c and snowing to 25c and sunny. Online sooth-sayers vary between being optimistic by claiming that tailwinds may aid us or glass half empty saying that the heat may stall us. Runners world is fuelling our obsessive meteorological monitoring. Of course that later start time (10am) adds interest. So yeah, who knows?
Estimated answer: Your guess is as good as mine, but you can be sure that if it goes badly we'll all be blaming the weather!
5. Will it be fun, will it go well and will Mr B and I actually manage to see each other before I've crossed the finish line?
Yes I realise that's three questions in one but hey - "7 things I don't know" is less punchy. Will it be fun? You bet. Let me at it. I'm almost at the stage (I say almost because there's still that competitive monkey lurking) where I don't care what the outcome is, I just want to race. Thanks to the inspiration friends at Advent Running, running buddies from Euston Church, coach Ben's enthusiasm and the general hype, I suspect this is going to be an ace-race regardless of time. I don't know how it's going to go but I've seen loads of mates do brilliant things already this year in Manchester, Brighton and Paris and there's a queue forming to kick some London Marathon butt so I'm sure as heck going to get in there too and go have some fun. The one big downer of a point-to-point is that Mr B's legendary cheering efforts won't be possible. I'll miss seeing him along the way but hopefully we'll catch a glimpse before I traverse the blue and yellow line.
Estimated answer: If I have any say in the matter it's going to be a blast. Run the race, arms aloft at the finish line. That's how it works, right?
Feel free to add your own questions in the comments below and I'll go on a mission to get you answers.
Oh and by the way, if you do actually want something called "Run Your Best Boston" you can find it here. It's excellent (well I assume it is since I can't disprove any of the things it says) and it has got me even more excited.
Also, I'll talk about London soon too. I realise it's not just this race happening but, well, humour me for now.