London marathon 2019: the day I became a world record holder ...






I've had some amazing days in my running career (for want of a better word). The Wings for Life world run in 2015. The sheer fun of beaming my way round Tokyo marathon in 2017. Finally breaking three in Seville last year. But running as a panda might just top them all.

From the surreal moments in the Guinness World Record tent - chatting with a mummy, lending duct tape to a post box, helping my friends assemble a sausage dog - the day just got better and better. Usually the first few miles of London marathon are pretty quiet but within minutes my friend Tim had popped up by the side of the road and the cries of "Go panda!" had started. If I had a pound for every time I heard that yesterday, I'd be the world first panda millionaire.

All marathons are journeys, both literally and emotionally - there's just so much time for your thoughts to bounce between excitement and despair and back again. And though the race unfolds over hours, I find it takes me days to process - little moments keep coming back. At about 5am this morning (hello post-race insomnia) I suddenly remembered the toddler in a pushchair clutching a toy panda. His mum was pointing to me and to his toy, saying "Look! Look!" and the expression on his face was just wonderful.

Then there's all the mid-run chats with other runners - strangers offering encouragement, the odd "Oh hello I read your piece in the Guardian!" and a few familiar club mate faces. My extremely limited vision meant that cries of "Go Kate" from the crowd were really hard to identify - I recognised more voices than I could see faces. Hearing my amazing friend Emily's voice somewhere near Tower Bridge (baby not even 3 months and she was pacing the 5 hour 15 group!). A huge shout out from Laura actually on Tower Bridge. A big furry (and probably very sweaty) hug from friend and teammate Julia at the Windmiler cheer spot. A huge cheer from the fellow black-and-whiters at Fulham running club on the Embankment.

I could write reams (don't worry, I won't) on the joy of London on marathon day. But I definitely couldn't find enough synonyms for hot to describe that panda head. It was like wearing a sort of condenser boiler - getting hotter and hotter and all the hot air staying inside. Navigating from middle to side for water stations was hairy (furry?) at best so a massive thanks to the volunteers who spotted me and made extra sure my paws got a bottle. Also the lovely fellow runner who - when I totally missed the water station I desperately needed somewhere in the 20s - got one unasked for me and put it gently into my hand.

The moment where I finally took that head off at the end was sheer bliss. The furry body itself (quite definitely not designed for running in) held up reasonably well though I have some peculiar chafing on my legs. You'd think panda fur would be softer ... Thank all the marathon gods that the weather was cool - if it had been last weekend's heatwave then I really don't think I could have done it.

So, I'll be processing that whole experience for a good while yet. I also need to catch up on all you regulars who ran, and friends results too, so just a couple of shout outs for two incredible impressive speedsters - David for going sub 2:35, and fellow journo and friend Nick, who also knocked it out of the park with 2:33. Oh - and that chap Eliud Kipchoge - fellow World Record holder ;)

Full updates below the line please, and obviously not just from London marathon!

** Also special footnote to thank everyone who has sponsored me! Link still up and running if you would like to do so on behalf of my slightly-less-speedy panda brethren -  justgiving.com/fundraising/lovethepandas **

Comments

  1. Fantastic stuff and the bit of his I saw of you you looked really relaxed and comfy in your panda skin.
    Another round of applause from the frozen north!👏👏👏🐼

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  2. Bit of vid.. I hate my phone's software!

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  3. 'Brilliantly well done' to all those WR holders, those PB gainers, those marathon runners... and to all those who simply got their running shoes on and went outdoors.

    It was a tough couple of running weeks for me. The week before last I was in the mountains of southern Spain. My starting altitude was 1,300 metres and all my runs involved me running up. There were six runs in total and my elevation gain was 6,500 metres. Particularly tough was the run that was just 8 km but with a single, relentless 1,000 m climb. And then there was the 10 km run with a climb of 1,200 m, which saw me scramble through snow and ice. The flatest run while I was there involved a measily climb of just the 500 metres.

    Back in Blightly last week I managed to run 200 km from Sunday to Sunday (yesterday), which is by far the most I've ever done in such a short time frame. And this was just in seven runs of 35 km (Sun), 32 km (Mon), 21 km (Tue), 17 km (Wed), 13 km (Thur), 55 km (Sat) and then 27 km (Sun) to finish things off. There was no particular plan to do so many kilometres... it was simply a case of waking up and doing what I felt like doing. Rest day today!

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    1. Good running Mark. 200km in 8days is a big commitment for your legs, a day off is a good idea!

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    2. I think if I get 200km in a month I'm doing well. Super kudos!

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  4. Stirling marathon yesterday. Third attempt at running a marathon, Edinburgh 2017 I bailed out through caution at about 8 miles when I have some pretty scary tachycardia (200bpm+). Dramathon 2018, my shoulder and neck muscles spasmed a few days before leaving me immobile and unable to take the start.
    But Stirling 2019 was a beauty. Pretty much stuck to planned 'best' pace - out a little fast, slowed a little in the last 2 miles for a 2 minute positive split. Not bad for a first time!
    Delighted to finish, amazed at 3:30:13 and 19th place.
    My quads are wrecked now.
    And I'm supposed to be walking the Speyside way this weekend...top recovery tips please!

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    1. Brilliant, brilliant running! Clearly everything fell into place this time. Recovery? When you don't have to move, put your feet up and let your legs relax!

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    2. Superb, well done! Brilliant debut! Re recovery, just rest up - but also gentle active recovery (ie slow walking, maybe swimming or something in the week). Your quads will probably be even more ouchy tomorrow but will ease off quickly after that. Mine were killing me after Boston but were fine a few days later.

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    3. Brilliant stuff, very well done. Take a week longer off to recover than you think/feel needed would be my only tip, and make sure you enjoy the down time!

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    4. That's outstanding - brilliant running. Re: recovery - A nice long walk at the weekend ending in a pub should help! ;-)

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    5. Congratulations Caragh. Great performance!

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    6. Wow. That's fantastic. Congratulations.

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    7. Well done Caragh, fantastic time. Did you get your gels, or were you fuelled by caffeine fumes?

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    9. Removed for autocorrect madness!
      I did get my gels Paul. Not sure if the guy sat next to me on the rail replacement bus home enjoyed the aroma of marathons runner steeped in coffee though !

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    10. Absolutely brilliant, so pleased for you.

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    11. Amazing debut time, well done!!

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    12. Wow! Fabulous run! Well done!

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    13. Congratulations Caragh!! I want more details! What was the course like? Were there any pacers?

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    14. Undulating in places, very flat in between. Passing through small towns with lots of people and bagpipes (i high fived a lot of small children), with a few miles of fields and quiet between towns.
      There were pacers - 1st race i’ve done with any. I ran with the 3:30 pacer between miles 2 and 6, then made a very sensible decision to drop off as it felt too fast. He finished (alone) in 3:26, that would have blown me up I think!
      Good experience all around - now to decide if I fancy Boston next year!

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  5. Running with any more than the bare minimum of clothes needed for decency boggles my brain. I'd be no good at that. Very impressed Panda Kate!

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  6. Cheers to you Panda-Kate. I watched from sunny Isle of Wight and regretted not planning my holiday better so as to be in London and watch properly.
    Slow and creaky 6k along the sea front yesterday followed by an unearned cake - it was a huge piece. 8k this morning, minus wind, felt much better but proper long run not done because friend is a non-runner and thinks I might be medically unbalanced for wanting to do it at all.

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  7. Brilliant stuff Kate!

    PB Klaxon alert! 3:18.00 at the Hamburg Marathon. Great City and great race, highly recommend it.

    Very happy with my time although not getting 3:17.59 is haunting me a bit if I'm honest!!! :)

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    1. Is 3:17:61 any good to you? Nevertheless, well done a great pb!

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    2. Congratulations. That's a fantastic time Mat.

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    3. LOL breezehillpete! Thanks Spiller, appreciated :)

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    4. Nice one - congratulations!

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  8. Congratulations! That's a world record worth having. Anyone can get pacers and people to draught off and fancy trainers but not everyone has the panda-calling

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  9. Well done Kate, and everyone else who ran. Kipchoge amazing as always but Kosgei's second half was stunning and major hat-tips to Callum Hawkins and Charlotte Purdue too. However, the UNDISPUTED WINNER of the 2019 London Marathon was Richard Ollington, aka the guy in pink shorts, who not only blasted out below 4:30 mile pace for
    the first couple of km to briefly lead the whole damn thing but recovered to a 2:34 PB despite a mile 20 vomit. Legendary behaviour, I expect he's still not sobered up yet.

    My own week was cut down somewhat by the arrival of Juniorette Handsome and Junior Handsome being ill means this week will be pretty grim too. Throw in some bitterly disappointing news about a future goal race and it's a good job there was so much inspiration from everyone else to keep my running mood on track!

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    1. Congratulations on the latest addition to the Handsome family. You'll have your work cut out for a while now, get some sleep when it's available!

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    2. Congrats on the new Handsome HD. Hope the week bucks up for you and the grimness recedes.

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    3. Congrats Handsome_Devil - that's proper news! Enjoy the disruption while it lasts...!

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    4. Congrats HD! More wee devils!

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    5. Congratulations! Fantastic news. (Not about this week being potentially grim, obviously...)

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    6. What a sweet way to hear about your lovely news! Welcome Juniorette Handsome!

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    7. Thanks all! Junior Handsome was so zonked by his bug he was out for the count by 7pm so a cheeky five-miler has lifted the spirits :-)

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    8. Congrats HD - you can now set your sights on parkrun double buggy PBs.

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    9. Ah, that's lovely news, congratulations to you and Mrs H!

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    10. Congratulations on your new arrival HD, that's fantastic news!

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  10. Well done Kate. That's as fast as I've ever run a marathon and I've never worn a panda suit (although I do have a somewhat outsize head) so I appreciate what a phenomenal effort that must have been.

    Personally I've not done much running since Paris (3:49:30, 67secs off a PB but very happy with the performance) having been laid low with food poisoning (self inflicted variety) last week. Hopefully all ok now.

    Massive congratulations to all the London marathon runners (and those elsewhere). You all looked awesome.


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  11. It's been going through my head in the last 24 hours, "do runners gain any benefit from running the course that they will compete on in a race?" I guess that many of the courses on roads are not actually available until the day itself, for example London yesterday or the Mersey Tunnel 10k. For trail running races, is it important? Or do you just try to replicate the conditions, distances, etc no matter what the race is?

    The reason I've been thinking about this is that I went over to Nottingham at the weekend, I've got a brother who lives near to the city, and yesterday we rode the bike leg of the triathlon I'm doing in less than 3 weeks. My aim was to have a look at all the difficult and easier parts of the course. This includes ascents and descents, road surface, junctions and work out where the places are that mean you can go flat out or have to conserve as much energy as possible, given that you've got to run 13.1 miles straight off the bike. This is clearly a cycling tradition to recce a course and I was not alone yesterday as there were lots of triathletes doing exactly the same thing. Obviously, the things that you experience on a recce trip but might not be the same on race day are the weather conditions, but the prior knowledge of the course helps you to prepare for the weather you'll get on the day.

    So, have any of you run a course before you took part in a race, and why?

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    1. Not specifically but the annual circuit obviously repeats and on time trialling there's a wee psychological boost in knowing the landmarks. Racing for places it's potentially much more useful depending on the course I think.

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    2. Well, I've run Manchester and Abingdon Marathons three times each now and I can certainly say that it's easier when you know the course. But I've never done a "rehearsal".

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    3. I think the only instance where I've properly recce'd a course was a trail ultra where I ran sections in training, in part to simplify navigation by getting a mental picture of the course, working out the vague and tricky bits beforehand and getting an idea of what pace I could do over the terrain. I then got injured and didn't run the ultra.

      Similar to sqirblej, there are races that I've run a number of times and by the third time the route is familiar, so that for example, a terrible hill is offset by knowing where it eases off and that there's an enjoyable descent on the other side.

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    4. Yes, I can see the advantages of doing the same race more than once squiblej & chasrle, knowing what's coming next and what effort you can make.

      Your prep for an ultra chasrle makes a lot of sense given that you'll be out on the course and there's no marshals around to give direction. Knowing the terrain and working out your pacing strategy is similar to my reasons for being out yesterday.

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    5. It was an awesome bike ride again Pete - and that's a really interesting comment. I only really have experience of training for 2 races, so probably not very useful, however for the Shut-In Ridge Run we did almost all of our weekend runs on the trail itself as we lived so close to it, section by section, repeating the trickiest ones for good measure, and it was an enormous advantage on the day. I knew exactly where I was (quite useful when you're shattered, cramping and surrounded by nothing but trees!), how to pace it and what to say to encourage other people! And then for the Mourne MTR (that I WILL run one day), although it wasn't possible to train regularly on the route, we did make one trip up to Newcastle to run the first half a few weeks before race day, and that made the prospect of actually doing it far less frightening (or was it the opposite...?!). :-)

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    6. I recce'd a 10mile race course last year. Partly to test out the hills and see what kind of pace the first few uphill miles should be at. Partly it was just a convenient route to do. I have used previous mile splits from last year's race a couple of times for a hilly HM. Worked very well as I was able to remember which miles I felt I should go no faster and which it felt like I was holding back a bit on.
      I don't think I've ever done it for a bike race though!

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    7. Hi Pete, I ran most of the Colshaw Hall 10k route last year a couple of weeks before the event. The reason being is that it has 2 "big" hills. On the day I knew what was coming and it took the sting out of them. Only a 10k and close to my house so it wasn't really a hardship to go and check it out.

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    8. That made me laugh McWhirr, that you've recce'd running races but never a bike one. But clearly you were doing it for very similar reasons to mine. Now, I can think back to some running races I've done were I wished I'd got some info about the course before finding myself blowing up spectacularly!

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    9. Nice one Grumpy Jim. That knowledge of what's going to come really does help. And it wasn't a hardship for me to go to Nottingham to stay with a cycling mad brother who was willing to come out and talk me through the course as he's ridden all round there. And we made a stop at a cycling cafe, something I've not been doing on my long rides as I've been getting used to feeding on the move. The cafe and the flapjack were a real treat!

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    10. Funny you should ask this Pete as I'm off to recce a race on Wednesday. It's a bit different though, as it's leg 5 of a 100 mile relay that clubs round here do every year. The route is only lightly marked, so there's a fair bit of navigation required. I've done the race once before and recceing it the week before was a huge help, especially as it's a very 'undulating' (that's bloody hilly) route so it's useful to know where to ease off and where you'll need all your reserves.

      Other than that I think the only recce-ing I've done is running parts of routes of local races, rather than the whole course per se. I'm sure it would be very different for trail races like the once MRM describes though - I'd have thought a run-through of sections of those would be hugely valuable, if only to not get lost!

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    11. Your relay race sounds exactly the kind of thing that going and trying it out would be of assistance for the day, and is very similar to the races that MRM described.

      I'm really glad I asked the question because although I've only ever checked out courses for bike events or bike legs of tri's, it has occurred to me that there have been times when I wished I'd have known what the conditions were like for running a race after I'd made a mess of a hill or something similar, and there's one race that stands out! I was going spectacularly fast for me in a 10k race and was going to do a huge pb. There were no mile/km markers on the course and I thought my Garmin said I'd run 5 miles. I couldn't sense how far I'd run because the course was unfamiliar and the amount of effort I was putting in. I thought I was coming to the finish but couldn't see it, so looked at my watch expecting to see almost 6 miles done. Huh, it said I'd almost done 5! I knew I was at blowing up point and couldn't keep that pace up, in fact I was expecting to stop. So I did, and stood there for a couple of minutes to recover, walked a little, then ran the last 1.2 miles at a more conservative but decent pace. Race finished and I still got a pb, but I'm still not quite over what a plonker I felt like!

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    12. The only race course I've probably recce'd is my club's 10k course (well, one lap of it). Usually on the preceding Thursday evening club run, it's a welcome reminder of what the terrain is like. What I've found interesting sometimes is to run a parkrun route in reverse - I get a completely different appreciation for the ascents and descents. I've run three marathon courses multiple times and one that was a two-lapper - I'd say course familiarity on these has helped me figure out how to deal (physically or mentally) with some of the course features. First time in Berlin I went and checked out the last km or so of the course, not so much to understand the road (it is after all, flat) but to help visualise where I would commit to running hard to the finish.

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  12. Many congratulations Kate and in fact all TMD runners who took part in anything yesterday - I was watching/following with a great deal of excitement from a treadmill myself, not wanting to miss anything of the races.

    Looks like some serious PB action from a few regulars as well - congrats Caragh on your terrific debut, great time!

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  13. Well done Kate and all who ran yesterday. I had serious marathon envy watching from the side of the road. I've already put in my ballot entry to get a running top next year.

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  14. Congratulations to all marathoners, panda imitators, parents with new babies and anyone else who would like some congratulations. I had FOMO this weekend watching a bit of London on the telly, seeing Strava results coming in and Panda updates on Twitter and The Guardian. As I was complaining that it wasn't fair and that I think it's time I did another one Mrs GJ reminded me of my Steve Redgrave moment and told me to stop whingeing. So we took the dog for a walk to Hilbre Island. She's a great leveller.

    Back in my own running world I took part in the Media City 10k on Thursday which is 4 laps of Salford Quays. I had secretly targeted 45 minutes and my pace seemed on target until the first switchback. No long story here but I came in at 45'51" on the chip time which I was very pleased with as there was nothing left in the tank and put me in the top 10 for age group. Had it been July it would have been a podium finish for age group - I'm looking forward to my new category. The event was really well organised and very flat but those hairpins and switchbacks took a toll on the time. Bear in mind that it was 4 laps so the effect was quadrupled. I have, however, learned to slingshot myself around a tree.

    If you recall Neil of Anglesey HM fame then I am pleased to say that he also ran and, get the klaxon out, PB'd by 6 minutes coming in at 1'04'11". That hour target will be broken within the year I'm sure.

    Wishing you all well with your bungalow legs and happy running, everyone.

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    1. I'm delighted for Neil! (And for you of course, but Neil has a special place in our hearts I think). Four laps though - don't think I'd have appreciated that much!

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  15. My run on Sunday was 6 miles with 8 hills reps thrown in for 'fun'. I've got a serious bit of hilly racing coming up and needed the practice. I also intermittently stopped to check the London marathon app to see how clubmates were getting on. There was some seriously good running out there yesterday. I had the marathon on most of the day and got dangerously jealous of everyone running. I am absolutely bloody determined to try and get a gfa place come my big birthday in October.

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    1. I like that steely resolve! And it helps that the target comes closer as you cross a birthday threshold. Go for it ruby!

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    2. Did you register for Amsterdam Ruby? I'll be there, looking for a QT for Boston 2021 which is the day after my own big birthday (which I'm sure is a much bigger number than yours ;-) ). Assuming I've read it correctly, the Boston QTs are based on your age on race day rather than your age when you ran the QT a la London, and the qualifying window opens in September. I need to find a bit of improvement over my Paris time but it should be achievable if I put the work in and run to plan.

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  16. Congratulations everyone on your weekend exploits; I'm so sensitive to being too hot while running that the very idea of running even a few km in that Panda head makes me start to sweat - great work Kate!

    I did the Shakespeare Half Marathon in Stratford upon Avon yesterday, under-trained, over-fed and jet lagged. The less said about that the better, first few kilometres were OK but after that, a long and increasingly slow trudge. I caught a bit of a second wind (as if I'd had a first wind) after ten miles but the steam ran out and the last mile was tough.

    Time was a full 15 minutes slower than my last raced half marathon; think it's time to do some shorter events and get some quality recovery. I've got a lot of cycling coming up over the next few months and I think that will help too. And perhaps not scheduling my next race for 36 hours after a trans-atlantic flight might be a good idea. Not least because of the amount of extra weight I have to carry after being in the US :)

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  17. Congratulations on your Panda-stic achievement Kate :-)

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    1. A late race report - London 2019, my twelfth marathon. Still processing what happened TBH, the last two nights I haven't slept well.

      In short, 1:16:30/1:18:24 for a 67s PB 2:34:54, achieving the Fukuoka B standard, the latest arbitrary external marker of fast marathon running for a middle-aged amateur.

      On the face of it, a success. I nearly screwed it up with two poor pre-race decisions. Amateur hour: 1. Don't eat leftovers that've been in the fridge for five days on carb-load day, even if the primary component is pasta. 2. Don't drink an unplanned, additional, coffee on race morning, once you've decided to be social and sit with your club mates in a cafe in Blackheath rather than grab an extra half hour sleeping in the Championship area tent. Buy and drink a bottle of water.

      I can see the funny side of both of the above now, but at about mile 8 I was cursing my utter stupidity. The 'Thick Of It' quote that springs to mind is 'You bought a bank out of social embarrassment?'

      OK, the fun stuff from Sunday morning: catching up with Luis before the race, the Colombian who used to run for my club, who told me in 2014 I could get down to 2.35 if I concentrate; catching up with Eirik and Runar from Serpentine (Norway division): Eirik, who I'd met and run with in Amsterdam 2015, Runar who I'd met last year at London, with kinder weather this year they were going for sub-2.30 and sub-2.40 respectively; this year I manage to sharpen my elbows and get to about the right starting point in the Championship scrum, maybe 6-10 rows back from the line, 10m further back from the Elite men. The last song on the PA system before we start: Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, Monty Python - '...just before you take your terminal breath' - gallows humour, British comedy successfully lightens the mood before the off.

      My race plan was to try and run 5:51m/m pace, but not to be worried if I ran in the high 5:40s for some of it. This would be a best case outcome of 2.33. All was OK until 10k, then the tendons connecting my hamstring to my left knee said hello. A bad foot placement on a recent (pre-taper?) run had disturbed the normal sensations at the back of the leg/knee. Nothing had happened during the taper, but it came back at the Naval College. This was too early. My plan had been to take gels at 7, 13 and 20 miles. After starting the first gel, by mile 8 my stomach was not dealing with the gel and limited water I'd had in the opening section of the race. With visions of a re-run of 2016 I was distraught. I ran like this for a mile or two, then remembered a conversation from a long run in the Berlin build-up from last year. I catch myself and make a conscious effort to relax. It works, I then plan - take your time with this gel, do not eat or drink anything else.

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    2. Across Tower Bridge I tried to take in the crowds and enjoy it. On the Highway, towards Limehouse I bellowed out support for Charlotte Purdue as she flew back, then Lily Partridge - this is possibly my favourite part of the London Marathon setup, seeing the Elite women along this section.

      After the Docklands loop I run past my club marshalling just after 20 miles, it was a great pick-me-up, but I was not in great shape, I realised that I didn't have the fight/strength for a 2.33 on the day. At mile 21 the Central Governor kicked in hard, if you drop to 6m/m will you still run under 2.35?! This is the first marathon where I've thought like this, I was in trouble. I grind out the miles back towards the finish. At mile 24 I see the clock: 2.21 I don't recognise the seconds. 6m + 6m + 90s. This is not good. I try to run quicker, as the road straightens out to Big Ben I get into a better stride, through Parliament Square I try to pick up more speed, at 1km to go I add 4 minutes to my watch and realise it's over 2.35, I go all in and run as fast as I can, 800m to go, 600m to go, the last 385 yards, I must keeping pushing. When I see the gantry clock it is moving through the 2.34.40s I'm now sprinting, I realise it is going to go over 2.35 as I pass under it. I am OK, I think I have 6s leeway from the start.

      I was so happy in The Mall, the A goal met. I caught up with some friends; a Japanese man crossed the line soon after and thanked me for leading. After bag pickup, Kojo from the 6am club confirmed my chip time and told me how Kev and Dan got on. I catch up with my family at W, just one day in the year we should have a surname beginning with G.

      I am really happy with the time, but the performance/attitude in places was a bit sketchy. I'll figure out what I need to take from the run and move on. Couldn't have had a much better day for running, the crowd's support was immense as usual.

      Well done all of you who ran or were out supporting.

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    3. Brilliant running David! I like that you had to tell yourself to relax and that it worked. This is a lesson that all of us no matter how quickly or slowly we run could take on board of we want to run for a good time.

      Enjoy the rest before you get back to training for your next race!

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    4. Several references there to Mile 8 - that where I was, intensely looking out for you of what felt like 20 minutes straight, crowd scanning. I couldn't see you! Everyone was very quick at that stage and I was looking at bib numbers, I kind of know what you look like but it was all too fast, I assumed you might have been in a pack as that's what you said you'd do, and that was even more difficult.. I should have asked you what vest you'd have on, that would have been easier. Oh well, that's when you were feeling ropey, shame I couldn't have distracted you somehow! (in a good way)

      Great write up, it all looks so effortless when you see a map pin moving across the route and eating up all the km markers on the tracker so really interesting to read how it actually went for you. Congratulations on the Fukuoka B acclaim, that's something special! and goes without saying a massive well done on an impressive PB and a hard run race. Epic!

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    5. Well done David, that's a superb effort. Great to hear the detailed story behind it - it's too easy to think supermen like you can just knock these times out on demand, whereas the reality is you're working at an extreme limit with no let up at all.

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    6. Wonderful stuff David, many congratulations. Ice been looking forward to that report since Sunday!

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    7. Thank you for your comments. One of my clubmates asked me on Sunday afterwards if I'd enjoyed it and honestly I could say 'not so much.' But the marathon is a long event, there's plenty of scope for all kinds of feelings in the event and perhaps that's what makes it different from the shorter distance races and why the distance is so popular.

      kyd, I was thinking of you when I was in Deptford, but I had no idea how I would recognise you and we were travelling quite quickly. I think I only saw two people I knew in the crowd south of the river, then two in the final four miles (and about 20 from my club at the marshalling point). My family were somewhere on Birdcage Walk, I didn't look for them as I was late (as it turned out they weren't in a good place to be seen).

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    8. Amazing time, and a fabulous write-up too. Your description of those fevered calculations where your glucose-deprived brain takes forever to do simple addition to work out if you're going to hit your target or need to dig deeper sound very familiar, and it's nice (in a way) to see that even at the very sharp end of the pace spectrum, those same challenges and thoughts that make the marathon such a challenge for us rather less speedy folk occur just the same.

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    9. That's a brilliant and, for someone like me, quite fascinating write-up David. I've no experience whatsoever of racing for a time, let alone marathon running (I've only chosen races based upon them being on routes I thought looked beautiful, or had to run flat out for 1/4 of a track - No mid-race calculations required!). You articulate it so well, that I found myself feeling quite stressed reading it. Fantastic run, even if not the way you'd have liked it. In many ways even more impressive for all that.

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    10. I agree with the comments above, it's amazing to read what an elite athlete goes through and the meticulous planning and mental arithmetic involved. The pace is just incomprehensible too. Great report and result, David. Thank you.

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  18. Well done to everyone who ran and raced this weekend! Some great tales here. I was due to run the Balmoral 15 mile trail race, and was beside myself with excitement at the prospect of a new mileage target. But my left knee spat the dummy out on Friday after a deliberately light session in the gym, and was unhelpful really sore all weekend. So I thought that running 15 miles on it was probably unwise. I lay on the sofa watching London with frozen peas on my knee instead.

    Happy to report that the delinquent knee appears to be much improved, and a reasonably brisk 5k before work this morning made me feel a bit brighter.

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    1. That’s a shame, r&r. Anything else coming up?

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  19. I had my first experience of a relay race this weekend. Seneca 7 circumnavigates Seneca Lake (in the Finger Lakes of New York State), a total of 77.7 miles, covered by a team of 7 runners. Each runner has three legs, with the distance not evenly divided! I was runner 6, running 4.5 miles, then 5, then 2.5. In between, you ride in the van to the next exchange point where you cheer on your runners, queue for the port-a-loos, and briefly catch up with your friends on other teams. The really hard core teams ride bikes between exchange points, adding another layer of logistical challenge on top of everything else.

    It's a different experience from anything I've done before. There are new challenges, like timing your eating during the day and planning layers of clothing. Our team took exactly 11 hours and in that time we went from 4 Celsius and rainy to "sunny and warm enough for shorts and a singlet". Snow was threatened but luckily held off. Two hours or so between runs is a weird amount of time. Just when I got settled into van life and was enjoying being the cheer squad, it was time to get motivated to run again.

    The other funny part is that runners alongside you are absolutely no guidance for whether you are on pace or not. It was a bit disorientating! Each leg I'd overtake a bunch of slower runners and then some fast people would come out of nowhere and overtake me. This effect was exaggerated because they had a staggered start. Teams with slower-expected times started first, at 6am, and I think the fastest didn't start until 8.30 or 9am.

    My favourite part was being part of a team. It was so fun to share the experience with other people who love running. You get a bit of that feeling at a race anyway, but this was even better. Plus, we had a great crew, even though we didn't all know each other beforehand. Everyone was positive, encouraging, and in it to have a good time.

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    1. Sounds a great event. I did a relay duathlon event once. Team of 4, 4 running legs then 4 biking legs, so everyone did a run leg, was bussed to their next changeover, then did a bike leg. Different distances/challenges on each leg and matched up so that the easiest/shortest run leg was the hardest/hilliest bike (that was mine, i was still 100% a cyclist at that time!).
      Great fun and great to do something different, only weird thing was that you only saw any of your teammates for a few seconds at the handover. Yours sounds better in that regard.
      It was a nice route too, circumnavigating Loch Ness. Sadly no longer exists.

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    2. Caragh: It would be cool to go around Loch Ness! That aspect, going all around a lake, was a nifty part of our race. It's a very long lake, so you can't quite see one end from the other, but you almost can. So it was neat at the end to look out over the lake and have a visual sense of achievement.

      PS I vote you run Boston, for sure!! How cool would it be?!

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