Race Report (Part 1): Flora London Marathon – 13th April 2008

The race was so incredible that I simply have to spread my report over several days, otherwise the posts will simply be too long – so do bear with me. I am in a lot of pain still. My quads are protesting very loudly every time I attempt to sit down, stand up or try and climb or descend stairs. My emotions are still all over the place. And I am still pinching myself because I can’t believe it is over.

But the question on everyone’s lips is…

Did I do it?

Did I break my 4 hour barrier?

I contemplated leaving everyone in suspense until I had done my good, bad and ugly, but I just can’t. I crossed the line, whipping almost 7 minutes off my previous time, in a scorching 3:58.25. It was all I could do to sprint that last 800 metres through the haze of pain and exhaustion, when I knew I was so close and my watch was telling me that if I kept up the speed I would do it. But I have achieved a marathon time with a “3” in front of it. I still almost can’t believe it.

The race, as usual, was fantastic. The crowds were huge, despite the unpredictable weather. We started in the cool sunshine. By mile 8 we were sloshing through a deluge – soaked to the skin from the rain with water dripping off our noses and hat brims. The Embankment was run in sunshine, and the rain hit again just after I had crossed the finish line. At least it meant the temperature was far more manageable than it was last year (which is clearly reflected in my finishing time).

I am thrilled to say that I didn’t walk once, unless you count getting trapped in one of the bottlenecks as walking. At one point around mile 22 I had that odd sensation where your mind suddenly gets a mind of its own (so to speak) and my legs nearly stopped running. I am sure the people around me must have jumped in surprise (or they would have if they weren’t so exhausted themselves) when I shouted ‘NO! COME ON NANCY! GET MOVING!” at the top of my voice which snapped my mind out of it and kept me going. I had hit that mental wall at 20 when you suddenly feel you can’t go on, but still managed to keep a steady 9 mile a minute pace going until around 24 when all the world felt like it was going to end and I was sure I was going to drop dead on the spot. But by that time I had stored up enough ‘spare time’, even with the two 10 minute miles at the beginning thanks to the crowds, to still cross the line within than magical 4 hour barrier.

I will do the ‘bad and the ugly’ tomorrow and then the ‘good’ on Wednesday because the race is so monumental I feel that finishing it on a low note would be doing it a disservice. But I have my 2008 medal, and I can’t wait until 2009…


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