April 29, 2016

London Marathon Race Recap

Last Sunday, April 24th was a special day and the 36th running of the London Marathon. As one of the lucky runners with a race bib, I woke up early and got ready for the bus ride to Greenwich Park where the race would commence.  Because this race has a later start for the average runner, I ate an early breakfast in my hotel room and brought an additional breakfast to eat at 9:00am at the starting area.  The weather was perfect for a race with a high of 50 degrees predicted and possible rain in the afternoon.
Dressed and ready for the big race
Our bus was leaving central London at 8:00am, with a 10:00am start time. Traveling to the starting area was uneventful but really fun because my seatmate Audrey from Canada had some interesting running stories to share plus she was running London on her birthday! How cool is that?

That's me underneath the robe and head cover.  It was cold!
After arriving at the starting area, I walked into the holding area for the red group and found porta potties, water and a nice open grassy area to sit and relax.  It was fun seeing the costumes on some of the runners and tons of charity bibs. This bad blogger forgot to take photos but the time passed quickly and after a quick porta pottie stop I entered my corral.

The start was quite unusual in that all the waves from 1-9 were placed close together and we basically walked to the starting line and began running. I set off at exactly 10 minutes and 50 seconds after the gun sounded.

Miles 1-3  We started on a slight downhill and with hundreds of runners all around me, I focused on staying upright and in one piece.  My pace was exactly where I wanted to be and the crowds on the course were not bad at all thinning out after about 1/4 mile.  Starting by Greenwich Park, we soon moved to a small village called Charlton and with tons of spectators along the course, the running seemed easy.
Mile splits: 9:57, 9:59, 9:53

Miles 4-8  Just after mile 3, the red and blue corrals merged for the remainder of the race.  The course was still wide when we ran the first 1/2 mile together with a barrier for a portion of the time.  Then we joined up and the crowding was noticeably different. The amount of runners all of a sudden became overwhelming with really no way to run your own paces.  Not wanted to weave around lots of people, I tried to stay patient, knowing that I would be unable to keep up what I had done at the start for pace.  Remembering that London is a very old city, it is no surprise that we ran on some very narrow roads. This section of the course includes a run past the Cutty Sark sailing ship and the quaint town of Greenwich.  The crowds continued to astound me as they cheered the runners, gave us high fives and also handed out jellie babies (fruit candy).
Mile splits:  9:49, 10:08, 10:16, 10:09, 10:27

The iconic Tower Bridge 
Miles 9-16  This was probably my second favorite portion of the course and it included a run across the iconic Tower Bridge.  While I did not stop for photos, a silly smile could not be wiped off my face as soon as I turned the corner onto the bridge.  With blue skies in the background, this is quite a sight to behold and the only time each year that the road across the bridge is closed to vehicle traffic.  After the bridge, you immediately turn onto a road where you are running both out and back.  It was fun seeing the front runners who were already on mile 22 headed to the finish area.  However, if there was any boring part to the course, this was it for me as we continued to head away from central London to get in enough miles for the marathon. I did manage to see Tom around mile 12 and he kindly handed me a banana after I told him to "run faster" so I did not have to slow down!
Mile splits: 10:17, 10:32, 9:51, 10:04, 10:24, 10:19, 10:16, 10:24

Photo courtesy of Robyn- exactly how it looked crossing the bridge
Miles 17-21 As the miles ticked by, this part of the course seemed really crowded to me with more narrow streets that made it hard to keep a relaxed pace.  This was my least favorite part of the course because the sights were not that interesting although on the plus side, we still had great crowd support.  I did high five a few small children and smiled at the crowd as much as possible which kept me relaxed.  About halfway through mile 21, we were back at the Tower Bridge and passing runners who were just finishing mile 14.  I even passed the cleanup crew at about the halfway point and sadly I saw a few runners behind them.
Mile splits: 10:39, 10:37, 10:04, 9:57, 10:31

Miles 22-26.2  This section of the course runs along the Thames River and this is when you start to see some of the sights that London is famous for including St. Paul's Cathedral the London Eye, Big Ben and others. While I felt like I was running at a decent pace, clearly my splits did not show that. However, when I got my race statistics from the website, it did not surprise me to see that I had passed alot of runners during the last 7.2km of the course! I've never seen these type of results before, but as a numbers person, I enjoyed seeing this!


 At one point of the race, I considered stopping to remove my tee shirt that I had worn under my charity race tank.  I knew it would take me several minutes to do that, so the decision was made to be hot!  As we continued passing bridges along the Thames River, we soon crossed into the Westminster portion of the course and the finish area.  When we arrived at the 800 meters to go sign my heart was pounding and I could not wait to pass Buckingham Palace and wave to the queen.  Soon I was blazing jogging down the mall towards the finish line with tons of British flags waving along both sides of the road.  It was a fantastic race finish area and one that is hard to beat.
Mile Splits: 10:40, 10:29, 11:14, 11:13, 10:46, 9:45

Overall Time:  4:34.13
Age Category: 88/205
Female Category:  6621/15100
Overall Category:  23131/39083



This was a bucket list race and I was so fortunate to be given the opportunity to run for the National Osteoporosis Society as a charity fundraiser.  I cannot begin to express in words how much fun I had running this race.  It was a perfect day and thanks everyone for your support.
(Pam)

55 comments:

  1. I'm always so amazed at people who give such great race recaps. Everything just jumbles in my mind, even at half the distance!

    You did great. It's really hard to run any kind of pace in a monster race like that.

    Congrats & wear that medal proudly!

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    1. Thanks Judy. I really focused on what I was seeing on the course during this race so it made it a bit easier to wrrite my recap.

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  2. AMAZING I would love to run this race. SO many congrats, Pam!

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    1. I hope you get the opportunity Susie, it really is a wonderful marathon. And who doesn't like London?

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  3. What an amazing race Pam!!! I've never been to London! But it sounds like you saw so many great sights along the course! Congrats!!!

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    1. London is one of my favorite cities so this race was really special for me.

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  4. You ran an amazing race! What a fantastic time:)
    The bridge looks so pretty and passing by the queen would give me chills for sure :) What a great way to some sight seeing.
    Congratulations Pam :)

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    1. Thank you so much. I only passed the queen's house though, she really was not out waving to the runners but that would have been very cool.

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  5. It sounds like a great race! The stats in that finisher information are really interesting. You definitely passed more people than passed you.

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    1. I was really happy about the passing statistic because my pace was definitely slower during that last portion of the race.

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  6. Congrats! Love your race recap! It's so difficult to keep pace when there are so many runners on the course. The different stats you got are very interesting.

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    1. This was one of the first races where I did not stress over the crowded race course and just soaked in the race experience. Maybe that is why I am still smiling about race day!

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  7. I've been anxiously awaiting this recap! CONGRATS on a great race! Todd and I are going to try to get in via a lottery/tour group to run this race during our honeymoon (a girl can dream, right?) -- totally a bucket list race for both of us, too! Congrats again! :-D

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    1. Thanks Jennifer. That would be an amazing way to celebrate your marriage to Todd. This marathon exceeded my expectations and I would be happy to share information with you if you have questions. Just send an email to tworunnerstravel@gmail.com

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  8. Congrats on running a strong race, even with all of the course crowding, and for crossing off a bucket list item. I'm so glad to hear that you had a great race. I know how much you had been looking forward to it.

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    1. Thanks Kathryn, I loved every moment, well maybe not being sore the day after the race!

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  9. Fantastic recap which helped me relive my day too so thank you! How did it compare with New York or Boston?

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    1. I absolutely loved all three of the majors that I have run. Boston was very special because I ran that with my sister. NYC Marathon shocked me because it was so much fun. The waiting for the start though was pretty rough for NYC. You are on the island for a long time.

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  10. Congrats on an amazing race. I've visited London before and could visualize all the landmarks you've mentioned! I bet it was pretty cool running across the Tower Bridge! -M

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    1. I think Tower Bridge was one of my two favorite parts of the race.

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  11. I so didn't know that the queen was out, waving to runners! How cool is that?! I love it! Great race, Pam...so glad you had a good time! Great recap!! :)

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    1. No, the queen was not out waving to runners, I said that in jest in my post! Sorry if that was misleading!

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  12. So many congrats to you! London looks like an amazing race. Looks like you had a great time!! <3

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    1. Thanks Rachel. I did have a really fun time on race day!

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  13. Sounds like you had a really great race and congrats on your time ! I was worried that it would rain, but you had perfect running weather. It does sound a little bit crowded though, something I didn't feel we had in Paris.

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    1. The crowds were bad in places, but with no firm time goal, I just went with the flow and did not get agitated.

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  14. Sounds like a great race and you did SUPER!! What's next?

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    1. I have a nice two weeks off of no running and then back to training. I have a 10k in August with my sister in Maine!

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  15. Congrats Pam! You had a fantastic race and I'm so glad the conditions were ideal. London is a bucket lister for me as well. Hopefully I'll be able to fulfill that dream soon! Back around the turn of the century we lived in London. The most I'd ever run then was 7 miles. I had a marathon application in my hand (all you did then was sign up) but I let fear win and I did not seize the opportunity. Sigh.

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    1. Definitely keep this one on your list Marcia. It exceeded my expectations, but probably partly because we had such perfect race day weather! I also lived in England for 5 years, but wasn't a runner than (2003-2008) so I missed an opportunity too!

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  16. Great job! The crowd support you mentioned wounds a lot like Chicago. You did a nice job with your pacing! What's next for you?

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    1. I need to read your Chicago recap. That is the next big race on my calendar!

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  17. Thanks for this recap! It looks like you had a great time and the medal is beautiful. I like it when the medals feature sites from the cities.

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    1. Thanks Jennifer. It really was a wonderful race experience from expo to finish line!

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  18. Congratulations! Gosh you held your pace strong and steady through all that - I am so impressed. I hipe you are proud and have good memories!

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    1. Thanks Coco, I do have wonderful memories from race day.

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  19. Huge congratulations to you!! What a cool city to run a race in. Seems like other countries have later race start times-I love that!

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    1. Thanks Deb. The later race time worked well since we had to travel to Greenwich from Central London.

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  20. Congratulations! What a wonderful race! Glad you got to enjoy it. That race looks awesome!

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    1. Thanks Sonia, I definitely recommend it.

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  21. I love London and while I was reading your post I looked to see where you would have been running. :) Congrats on such a great race! That is definitely on my bucket list! :)

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    1. Thanks Tedi. I highly recommend this one and might want to try it again after I complete a few different ones.

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    1. I know you like to travel so you would definitely love this race too.

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  23. This sounds lovely! I can imagine it was crowded in parts, however. I love you told Tom to run faster with that banana! Priceless. The finisher info they gave you is very interesting. I think we always feel like everyone is passing us at the end. That proves the opposite. I'm so happy the race went well. You had a great finish time too. Congrats! See you in Chicago.

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    1. Thanks so much Holly. I am excited about Chicago after meeting with my coach today.

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  24. OMG this race sounded amazing!!!! I might seriously need to put this on my bucket list now! Congrats on your finish and for doing so well in the race!

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    1. Thanks so much. It was so much fun to run a race in London and spend time with alot of friends from when we lived in the UK.

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  25. You just sold me on running this race! I didn't realize that the course goes over Tower Bridge. That must have been awesome! Congratulations, Pam!

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    1. Thanks so much Jamie. Be sure to check out all the options for fundraising. I bet they have an animal charity that benefits horses. :)

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  26. I was thinking about you that weekend, I was so hoping you'd have an awesome race with no problems.
    After reading this, sounds like it couldn't have gone any more perfectly!
    I did not know the race passes the palace, so awesome!!! I assumed it went hear the bridge, but didn't know you actually got to run on it, even more awesome!!!
    Wow, looking at your mile times/splits you seriously did great!
    All the sights you got to run by, like a history lesson. What an incredible opportunity, you definitely were a lucky gal to have that bib and getting to run those roads! Really enjoyed reading this, so happy for you!!!!!

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  27. Congratulations on an excellent race! It would be pretty exciting to finish near those famous landmarks. I really love London and if I were to run a full I think I'd want to give this race a try. Maybe someday! Great job! :)

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  28. Great race. Such a cool experience and a fun way to see London.

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  29. Congratulations! What a cool race. I enjoyed reading your recap and felt like I was along with you. Running a marathon would definitely be a very cool way to see a new city - especially when that city is in another country. Such cool sights to see along the way!

    Great job!

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  30. It sounds like an amazing experience! Congratulations!

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