Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Virgin London Marathon 2013 - Colin's report

This was my 9th London Marathon in a row, and my tenth ever London Marathon. 

The novelty has long since worn off. So too has the speed. So why keep doing it? The current reason is to do 10 in a row. I must admit it is not really that enjoyable for me, but 10 is a nice round number and there are probably not that many people who have done 10 in a row, although I know there are 30 or so people who have run every single London Marathon, one of them having finished all of them in under 3 hours. That I find truly incredible. One of the St Albans Striders, Mike Starr, a former chairman, got to about 20 in a row before succumbing to marathon inertia or incapacity. 

For a few years the challenge of trying to achieve a time faster than the Good For Age threshold of 3:14:59 has been a target. This assures me a London Marathon place for a further two years. Now I am nearly 52 it is getting harder to achieve. I can still just about knock out the miles in training, but trying to achieve the speed is hurting more now. 2012 saw one of my ankles balloon out like an old man’s ankle (thanks for your lack of sympathy, you know who you are!); 2013 saw both legs swelling up like an elephant’s! It was still possible to run on them, but rather slowly: 9 or 10 minute-miling. Quite how I managed seven and a bit miling in the Finchley 20 and the marathon I don’t know. Well actually I do know: I kept my weight down then ran through a bit more tiredness and pain than I used to. Boo hoo. Still, it was never meant to be easy, was it? 

Colin, at a previous VLM
In 2012 I missed the Good For Age threshold by about 30 seconds. Fortunately I achieved it a couple of times later in the year. And I also achieved it in the 2013 London Marathon with about three and a half minutes to spare. I am beginning to think the autumn marathon may actually be a better bet than the spring one. Training great distances in the cold is frankly becoming unpleasant and I am not convinced it is an unpleasantness I want to keep subjecting myself to. So the tenth London Marathon in a row, if I achieve it may well be the last! 

Getting up at 5.15 am for a 10am marathon start is a bit mad really. Maybe I should try to get a hotel near the start next year? 

I would now love to wax lyrical about the festive atmosphere, great crowd support (which there was, especially at mile 24, thank you Striders!) but to be brutally honest the fresh air and nice views at the Kent Coastal Marathon in 2012 were a lot more uplifting to my soul than the treeless desert called Docklands, the dark, dank tunnel on Upper Thames Street, the long toilet queues at the start, the throng of people in Horse Guards Parade, the long wait for the Underground station barrier to open, the packed FCC train home! 

It’s a great event, but maybe I need to find a different one?

Colin Braybrook

(Ed's note: the Good For Age thresholds relaxed since Colin wrote this.....)

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