I am still buzzing inside, so great was the event. I love London, I love how well everything is organised and thought through, I love how the London crowd’s cheers really give you this extra energy, I love the landmarks and London’s rougher bits. I love finishing at Buckingham Palace and the last stretch down the Mall. And I loved it all the same, when I run London in 2012. Back then it was my second marathon, today it was my 30th. Which means I have much more other marathon events to compare it with and still, the London Marathon, for me, is second to none by miles. What a glorious way to celebrate my 30th Marathon Jubilee. And even better, I can celebrate it with a new personal best time: 3:26:02! Still can’t believe it worked out so well.
I went to the London Marathon Expo last night to collect my race number for Sunday. And then I saw this: the medal of all medals, for runners who have completed all big 6 marathons. So far I ticked 3 of them off my bucket list and now, knowing there will be a special medal for it, I want them all! Tokyo, Chicago, Boston – bring it on! Trickiest to get into will be Boston I believe. I heard they have a quite challenging qualification system. It’s time to find out and work on it.
Well, with the blog title I am just getting out of the way, what is happening on this picture. I don’t think it is very clear and I don’t want to leave it open for interpretations. I am kissing (not eating or chewing or licking) the medal. And there is an other anomaly: I am wearing glasses. I think it is my first marathon where I had to wear glasses. Not because I run out of contacts, but because I did not find time to put them in. The plan was to do this before the start, when I get into my running gear. But the Brighton start was so chaotic that I simple did not find an opportunity to do it. When I arrived far over 1 hour before start and wanted to have a quick loo visit, the long queues made me wonder if I will actually make it in time. Getting somehow changed while waiting for the loos was also tricky, because the whole place was covered in mud and there was not way to put your bag(s) somewhere without getting them wet and dirty. As a result the whole pre race experience was one of the worst (if not THE worst) I ever had. We are talking about 28 other marathons to compare it with. But against the odds just made it to the start and even re-united with me my newly found (and then lost) running buddy Matt, whose one (self declared) job it was to pace me through to a new PB. Around 10k in, I wondered if his plan would actually work out. He was obviously aiming more to pace me for a London Marathon good for age time (3:15) and not for 3:25, which I would have been very happy with as a new PB. It happened what had to happen, I crashed and burned eventually and finished in 3:31:17 (still respectable time for me). However, over all this PB-ing and crashing and burning I forgot a bit to enjoy Brighton as the great place it is. But I can say that the infamous industrial stretch was not as bad as people told me. Spectators actually made the effort to go down there and give us runners the feeling we are not completely abandoned. Apart form that, I think running through some rough and run down areas has certain edge to it, that I quite like. So, don’t be ashamed of this industrial stretch, Brighton, I loved it. And the rest was pretty nice, too. The seaside of course, but also the fact that we came back to the seaside centre more than once with all the friendly Brighton people who cheered you on. And the weather was also perfect, sunny, cool, a nice breeze – so overall a brilliant day. Brighton, we got off to a bad start, I guess, but you made up for this later on. And having even some else to blame for not doing a personal best makes it nearly a perfect marathon day. (Which still does not explain why I kissed the medal, but some things are just what they are.)
It’s getting serious. After 7 years of tracking runs with my phone and good old Runkeeper, a new area is about to start: I got a proper Garmin running watch, FR 630, all singing and dancing. I never knew about my heart rate and permanent running data at a glance and had always been a bit cynical about these over-ambitious, over-geared, wannabe running athletes, who check their watches in a 10 seconds tact. Well, now I am one of them and you know what, it feels great. I blame Stuart by the way, who recently dropped a Metro review of the Garmin 630 on my desk, which planted the thought into my head that without this watch I am badly missing out on something (Inception says hello). I have been running a full week with it and of course I am not checking every 10 seconds (pathetic!), but I already got used to the heart rate monitor (HRM) strap and do enjoy the constant feed of running data. Plus it acts as a smart watch, giving you all the texts, emails and notifications from your phone. (So for someone else it might look like I am checking every 10 secs, but hey, what do they now!) I am feeling ready and geared up for the Brighton marathon tomorrow. Maybe I will even figure out how this live feed works, so that friends can follow me in real-time… Watch the space!
Kingston upon Thames that is. If I had known in advance my first 50k run would have been perfect. Instead of treading known paths I decided in the middle of my long run to do something different and see where the Thames would lead me and how the world looks like after Battersea Park. It turned out to look really nice and it was a great motivation to carry on with running. I did not intend to do a 50k, but when the world South of the Thames continued to pass by I was somehow sucked into it and did not want to stop. At k 47, after having passed Richmond, I thought it is a good time to check for the closest train station that would bring me home. But my phone was not working (SIM hiccup), so I had no Google Maps. Asking strangers they recommended to go back to Richmond and take the train there. Little did I know that Kingston upon Thames was nearly the same distance going further. I only found out when I was home, had fixed my phone and checked where the heck I actually where running and noticed that Kingston upon Thames would have been the ideal finish for this first 50k run. Well, it is a good enough reason to run this route again soon. Well and I learned an other thing in the meantime: In September there is a 100k Ultra event starting at Putney and going down exactly this path. I am seriously tempted…