Paul Walters runs the London Marathon

Report from Sunday 26th April 2009

I've run it!

Just after the Cutty Sark

After about 15 miles

Results with split times

Finished - with my medal

My pace chart for the race.

The Reigate Priory AC runners were today wearing black ribbons in memory of our much respected club chairman who passed away recently.

Over the couple of days previous to the marathon I had been hydrating - trying to take on lots of liquid, and I had a large pasta meal at 4:30PM (early) on Saturday.

I got up at about 5:45AM after a disturbed night - waking every 2 hours. For marathon breakfast I had a large bowl of porridge and a banana, swilled down with water followed by some tea. It was supposed to be warm, so although I packed for rain and cold (rain coat and extra tee-shirts), I was suspecting a warm day. Sarah drove me down to Redhill railway station at 6:50 to get on a Reigate Priory AC organised minibus to take us to Blackheath at 7AM. Sarah returned home, to get Lizzie ready. Sarah and Lizzie were taking a train later to spectate.

The minibus got us close to the blue start promptly - before 8AM if my memory serves me correctly. The majority of the people on the minibus were on the blue start, so three of us said goodbyes and we made our way over to the red start. On passing the entrance to the blue start, we saw some Reigate Priory AC people marshalling the blue start - it was good to see them.

Before too long we were at the red start, and we went our separate ways. I promptly got myself in the appropriate attire for the race, and I put my large marathon bag on the baggage bus. I had a pee, and basically waited around over 40 minutes for the start of the race. I found a park bench which was in the shade, so I sat there for some time, keeping cool and rested. I went to the urinals - I strolled in to what I thought was an entrance, had a pee, and walked out again. I then realised I had jumped a rather long queue, and had entered through the exit!

I then placed myself in zone 3 and sat down at the side of the road, ready for the race. There are 9 zones, with zone 1 having the faster runners in it at the front of the field, and zone 9 at the back. I was very pleased to find myself in zone 3, although on my predicted time I expected to be in zone 4. It was important not to go off too quickly from zone 3.

We walked out of the gate of Greenwich Park, and before too long the race had started. I did not hear the gun, but the race must have started promptly at 9:45, and within 2 minutes I was over the start and running freely.

I ran the first 2 miles in 15:30 I think, which was too fast - I was hoping to 8 minute mile for as far as I could in the race. After three miles the runners from the blue and green starts filtered into our road. Within 5 miles I began to feel hot and tired, and I suspected that this was just because of the weather - it was hot. Although we were not supposed to waste water, I started taking a bottle of water from the drinks stations (every mile), taking some gulps of the water, and tipping the rest of the bottle over my head. This accounts for the fact that I look rather wet in the pictures!

I saw some Reigate Priory AC people at about 6 miles, and shortly afterwards we rounded the Cutty Sark, and the first picture above was taken.

In this period of the race I think that I was fairly accurately running 8 minute miles. I continued to soak myself with water as well as drinking some of the energy drinks which were available on course. I finished the first 10 miles in 1 hour 19 minutes something - so I was on my intended time.

Running over Tower Bridge is usually spectacular, and this year was no exception. The crowds were brilliant. In fact the crowds all long the route were so loud and rousing - I think that they really helped all us runners going - they were better than ever this year. I suppose the weather helped. Soon after Tower Bridge, you start running out to the Isle of Dogs, and I realised that I would see the elite men running back from the Isle of Dogs while we run side by side with the returning stream. I think that I was at the half way mark when the leading man came past in the opposite direction, but I was being distracted by something - can't remember what, but I didn't see them! I wanted to reach the half way mark in 1 hour 45 minutes, and according to the chip timing on the London Marathon website, I reached half way in 1 hour 44 minutes and 43 seconds, so I was pleased to be fairly accurately on pace.

Before too long we diverged from the returning runners, passed the 14 mile mark, and I knew that sometime in the next mile I'd see Sarah and Lizzie again. It took longer than I expected to reach them, but Sarah got a picture, said that I looked hot, and I ran on. I suspected that she was mistaking my wet appearance for sweat, when it was in fact bottled water. (Before seeing me, she saw the Arsenal football team appear out of hotel, on their way to play Middlesborough. The police were giving bystanders grief when they attempted to cross the road across the runners' path, but evidently the Arsenal team take presidence - the police escorted the whole team with Arsene Wenger across the road.)

At mile 15 one of the 8 minute Runners World pacers caught me up, and I tried to follow him. I found this very tricky, as the road was narrow and congested, and he started pulling away from me. I was tiring anyway, and I was suspecting that I was about to go off my 8 minute mile pacing. At about 17 miles another 8 minute mile Runner World pacer caught me up, and again before too long he was past me. The crowds were great in the Isle of Dogs, but it was difficult, as I knew I was tiring. The only comfort I had was that I could tell others were tiring around me. I was passing some runners, and some runners were passing me. I saw a Reigate Priory AC member who noticed me running past. The road twisted to and fro, and eventually at about 20 miles we started on the long route back towards Westminster.

I saw Sarah and Lizzie again at about 21 miles, and Sarah failed to take my photograph - I think that she was more concerned with my hot appearance.

Eventually we ran alongside the runners going out to the Isle of Dogs, and we saw these runners running past the half way mark. I did feel sympathy for them, as they still had a long way to go. My running was slowing up, and we still had what felt a long way to go. At about mile 22 I saw some other Reigate Priory AC club members who shouted encouragement at me, which was nice. I took a mini Mars bar off someone, but I couldn't eat it easily. I put in into my mouth, but had no saliva to swallow it. This illustrated to me that I must have been dehydrated, so I drank at the next water station. I took a Starburst from a spectator, and then took about two minutes unwrapping it! I put my hand in someone's sweety bag and pulled out 4 jelly babies. This was a bit greedy, but I wasn't going to run back to return some of them! This food was welcome though.

I think that I missed the 23 mile marker, so finding that I was at 24 miles came as welcome news. I saw some more Reigate Priory AC spectators. When we reached 40Km, I decided that I could run faster for the remainder of the race, so I picked up my speed, and was getting energy into my running from my arms. This was surprising successful, and I was making much better headway compared to the previous 4 miles. However, when we rounded the corner at Westminster (which was a very welcome sight), my right calf muscle cramped up. For about 100 yards I ran in pain, taking the weight off my right leg. I rarely get cramp when I run, and it must have been the exertion I was putting my muscles through after 25 miles of running. I was amazed to find my calf muscle return to it's previous state, allowing me to run on at pace.

Down Birdcage Walk we went, and I kept my speed up, rounded the roundabout outside Buckingham Palace, and finished on the Mall in a time of 3 hours 41 minutes and 8 seconds. I had no ability to sprint down the Mall this time - probably because of the hard last mile or so I had run.

On finishing, I was not in the best of shape, but I had my chip timing device cut off my shoe, received my medal, had my photo taken with the medal, and got the goodie bag. This bag seemed quite heavy, but I slowly walked the full length the the baggage buses, as my bag was in the last one on the end of the bus queue. On receiving my baggage, I walked to repatriation point "R" to meet Sarah, Lizzie, and some running club members.

I was actually feeling nauseous, and found that I didn't have any palette for eating or drinking. We walked off to a restaurant, where I had just plain pasta with some lemonade. 2 hours after the race, the nauseous feeling subsided, and I was back to normal, apart from some tired and sore legs. We walked to The Embankment tube station to come home on a train from Victoria Station to Redhill.

It was a hot day, and I think quite a few runners had difficulty today. I'm pleased with 3:41:08. I think that taking age grading into account, it's very close to my PB, obtained on a hot day, so depending on how you look at it, it's close to my best marathon run.

Having said that, it was very hard. I think I enjoy the training runs much more than the event itself.

The ten year project to run the London Marathon is almost over. I have run in 10 marathons, but I'm a mile short, as I expired in the race of 2007, and so only have 9 medals. I will therefore probably enter next year's marathon, but if I don't get into the race in the ballot, I probably won't take up a charity place - and thereby call it a day!

Thanks for reading this and for sponsoring me. Job done!

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