Paul Walters runs the London Marathon

Report from Monday 24th April 2006

I've run the 2006 London Marathon!

Somewhere on the course

Somewhere on the course

Near Parliament

Towards the finishing line

We got up yesterday at about 6:30PM to take the 7:41 train into London Bridge from Redhill. I woke with a rather stiff neck, which was a nuisance, but at least you don't use your neck for running! I had my usual marathon breakfast of a bowl of cornflakes, as well as a banana. Parking up at Redhill was straight forward, and the train was on time, so getting to London Bridge was very easy. The weather was due to be cloudy, fairly warm and raining, and although it did rain, it was just drizzle, and I think that this helped us on the day.

I needed to catch a Blackheath train from London Bridge as this year I was a the blue start, and one was due in within a few minutes of our arrival. However, because of the conjestion, I had to wait for another train. First a train to Greenwich came and went, and then another train for Blackheath arrived, although it was already very full with marathon runners from previous stations. Fortunately when the train stopped and the doors opened, I was right infront of them, but there was one almighty crush to get into the carriage, and I was standing pressed against everyone with nothing to hold on to. There were two stops before Blackheath, but then we had to wait outside Blackheath station because of conjestion on the platforms. The carriage got very warm in these 10 minutes, and it was a relief when we finally set off again and pulled into the station.

There was a slow procession out of the station and when you were finally clear of the platforms, you could then walk freely to the start. I ate some Lucazade gel while walking along, which I hadn't had before - it was a freebie I'd picked up somewhere. I don't think I'll try it again!

I arrived at the start, put my number on, applied Ibuprofen gel to my knees, hips and neck, took two Ibuprofen tablets, took off my long trousers, and put my bag onto the baggage bus. I saw a number of Reigate Priory AC people mashalling at the start, as well as a fellow runner, which was nice. By this time I had 15 minutes to the start and I hadn't had a pee. I really didn't want to use the loos, as there were still queues. Over the tannoy I could here that we should be making our way to the start. I couldn't find an appropriate "tree" to go against, and I could then within minutes here that the runners were moving forward. In my panic, I found an appropriate place to have a quick pee, ran into the start, and I was probably poisitioned about where I should have started from in zone 3, as I had jogged to a zone two place but because everyone had moved forwards, I had zone 3 people around me.

When we finally stopped moving forwards, I was actually quite close to the start - closer than I have been in previous years. We only had a few minutes to wait until the gun went off, and it didn't take me long at all to be over the start and running.

Before the race I had said to myself that I'd try to 8 minute mile from the start. After a short time the people from the green start merged in, and I saw a Reigate Priory AC runner. I finished the first mile in 8 minutes, and in the second mile I caught up with my fellow runner to wish him well. I ran the second mile in 7:30, and I then think that I ran approximately 7:30 or 7:40 for quite a few miles to come, because it felt comfortable. I was trying to beat 3 hours 30 minutes, for which you need to run just under 8 minute miling I think, but I knew that the last 6 miles would be difficult because I'd only managed to run 17 miles in training.

We ran on, merged in with the runners from the red start, and eventually passed the 10Km point, followed by rounding the Cutty Sark. Shortly afterwards I saw my wife and daughter, which was nice. This was just before the 7 mile point, but when we got to 8 miles I started to feel a little sore in my hip on the right hand side. This is where I often have problems - in my piriformis or upper hamstring muscles, but I ran on regardless, although I was a little worried that it would get worse.

I was pleased to reach the Tower Bridge, because although I was felling a bit fatigued, the crowds are always rousing when passing over the bridge, and you're also close the the half way point. The photographers on Tower Bridge were relaxing it appeared rather than taking photos, so no photo there this year.

I got to the half marathon mark in 1 hour 40 minutes, and I knew that I was in a good position to try for the 3 hour 30 minute time. I was hopeful.

As usual, we passed the runners coming back from the Isle of Dogs for a time, and here we saw some of the ladies elite race, but we also saw the leading runners of the male race, and they did look impressive! THey seemed to be way infront of the next male elite runners.

My wife and daughter were waiting for me just before 15 miles, but unfortunately we missed each other this year, which was a shame. At this point, the hip on my left hand side started feeling very tired, so I had a matching pair! I knew that I was tiring, and when we passed the 17 mile mark I also knew that I was running further than I had done in my training. To cap this off, at 19 miles, my left knee started to hurt. I could run on it okay, but the worry was that it would give up on me as it had in my training - if that happened, I think that I'd have to give up on the race.

The crowds around the Isle of Dogs were rousing - they are always a help. One thing - I had my heals kicked quite a few times during the race. I find that this often happens to me in the marathon. At one point one man who was charging through kicked my heals so bad that I was lucky to escape without being bowled over.

To be honest, the last 10 miles were difficult, and increasingly so. I had no idea how badly I slowed up in the last 10Km, but bearing in mind the cushion I'd given myself to try for 3 hours 30 minutes, I realise that I was running a lot slower than I thought. I was following my coaches advice, to not worry about what's going on around me or my hurting body and to concentrate on my breathing. In the last two or three miles I was getting pins and needles in my arms, lights in my eyes as though I was starting with a migrane, and I felt very hungry. I accepted a few sweets from a lady, which at the time seemed very nice and took my mind off the task in hand for a short time. I didn't stop at all this year apart from a few seconds to get a drink of water.

I had quite a few swigs of water at the water stations this year, but I tried to concentrate on the energy drinks, and at the first energy drink station I had most of the packet. I think that I missed the following two energy drinks stations annoyingly, but after the half way mark I had all of another energy drink, and subsequently at another station had the majority of another.

Anyway, the last few miles were very difficult, although some runners came passed me quite spritely as though they were quite fresh. I guess these are runners who were doing a much more even or a negative split in the race. I think that a number of people shouted for me in the last mile or so, but I was concentrating on my race and either didn't hear them or didn't react.

We Turned around towards Buckingham Palace and then finally started the run-in along Bird Cage Walk, and when we were approaching the roundabout in front of the Palace, I picked up my pace to run in with a finishing time of 3:34:33. Although I was off target for my 3 hour 30 minute target, I'm pleased with this, as it is a personal best, and I hope that this has given me a good target for next year if I decide to run it.

My chip was removed and I was given my medal. There was a long queue to have your picture taken with your medal this year, which I think was rather annoying. I was walking relatively well as I got my goodie bag, received my bag from the baggage bus, and when along to the repatriation area. Before I reached "R" where I was due to meet my daughter and wife, I was hailed over to meet my brother and his family. He's run it this year in 2:46, which I am immensely impressed with. He'd had a very hard race though, and was in worse shape than me.

We left my brother and met up with my friend Dren to go for a meal at a Garfunkels restaurant, which was very welcome, followed by a train journey home.

I originally had three targets - to beat my PB, to beat 3 hours 30 minutes, and to try for 3 hours 15 minutes. Because my training had not gone well, I know that my last target was not obtainable, but I gave it my best shot for my second target, and on the day reached my first target of a PB, although because of my problems I'd had in training I also feel fortuate to finish relatively unscathed. I'm very pleased to have run it, to get a PB, and when I've recovered I'm looking forward to concentrating on more speed work than distance.

I managed to walk around London okay, but by the evening my hips and knee were making it quite difficult to walk, and I've had a bit of a disurbed night. I have blisters on my toes too, and they really don't look pretty. Unfortunately this year I have no pictures as of yet of my run, and will hope that the official photographers may send me some decent pictures.

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