In the weeks running up to the race, I bought myself a fab Evadict 10L trail running bag from Decathlon, which I really love, and totally recommend. It was a trade up from a bum bag and allows me to take up to 2 litres of water without the faff of getting a bottle out. Strava was reminding me that I’d done more than enough running in my Asics, so I popped to Up & Running and decided to try New Balance for a change. Happy to get my Shaef 15% discount! (Although I blew it on two pairs of blister busting socks). An injured friend had donated a stash of out of date Maurten gels to me, so I was pretty much all set.
Having read Born To Run last year, I’ve been making the ‘chia fresca’ drink before my long runs, and absolutely had to have this on the day. You make it the night before with 3 tbsp chia seeds, a good squirt of agave syrup, the juice of one lime and 500ml water. Overnight the chia seeds swell and get a bit frogspawny and gloopy, but if you embrace the gloop, it’s quite delicious! I had a week off the booze before the big day, and slept really well the night before.
Despite the wobble that my training plan might not work, I woke up on Sunday 3 April feeling excited, optimistic and was raring to go. I had scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast and packed a banana and my chia fresca to have closer to the start time. Although I’d pretended I didn’t care if anyone came to watch or not, I was delighted to have my fan club of two to support me – husband, David and my eldest, Xav. It was a chilly start forecast to be around 3 degrees I think, and I was glad of the advice from the LLHM organisers to wear a top at the start that could be left behind and donated to charity. I have to say that all of the organisational material sent before the race was excellent, as was the actual organisation on event day.
The train and tube journey was smooth and uneventful, and the race waves organised in pens according to expected finish time was great. There was no bunching up and the runners were nicely spread out. As a massive charity event, the crowds, cheerleaders and entertainment was almost overwhelming. I did feel quite emotional at the start and welled up a bit. But I soon pulled myself together as we got over the start mats. I had decided to give Garmin’s PacePro a whirl and set myself target km splits starting at 5:40 and ticking down one second per km to 5:22 at the finish. Fellow Shaefer Matt Rogers had warned me that GPS reception was poor in places on the course, which I was grateful to know.
I felt absolutely fantastic from start to finish. I made sure not to get carried away and go too fast at the start. I stayed hydrated and got through one snack bar and two Maurtens during the race. I basically enjoyed the ride. All of the entertainment laid on was a bit of an assault on the senses, but I loved it! Although the quiet moments were welcome too. The bit I didn’t really take on board was all of the London sights, because I was trying to stay focussed. I think the map will do a better job of describing the course than me: