Mo runs London

Great news that Mo Farrah has decided to join me in running the London Marathon 2018.

I can talk for years to come about running with Mo. Great news. And I’m confident that such will be my speed that Mo will be nowhere in sight when I cross the line.

His win today of the Great North Run for the fourth consecutive year was a mere 59 minutes faster than my time at Great Yarmouth – but the latter did involve some grass at the start, which makes all the difference.

Public ballot

A record total number of 386,050 applicants registered for a ballot place in the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon. This is the highest number of applicants for any marathon in the world.

327,516 of those applicants were from the UK. This is 73,586 up from the previous UK applicant record of 253,930 for the 2017 event – an increase of nearly 29 per cent.

Just over 58% of the UK applications for 2018 were from people who have never run a marathon.

I feel even more privileged to have gained a charity place. Wouldn’t it be ironic if I got a ballot place too? With about 16000 places available, the odds of success are about 1 in 24, or 4%.

A bit too far

With the excitement of Friday’s news of the 2018 London Marathon place still simmering away (indeed, perhaps on a more active boil), and with the previous weekend’s 10-mile PB at the Lee Valley Velopark also not gone away, I perhaps got a bit carried away with this morning’s run.

When a route from Norton through Pakenham and Stowlangtoft was first considered, it was about 15km, but in planning last night, I looked at an extension to the north to make it up to half-marathon distance.

I set off knowing that I could have the choice, but really wanting to do the HM distance. Added to that danger was that I had to make the choice around 8km, at which point I was still feeling fresh. I turned left rather than going straight on, committing myself to the longer distance.

This did give me the opportunity to discover the hamlet of Langham which I’d never visited before, but as I approached 16km I started to struggle, and by 17.5km was finding it very hard indeed, and there was a fair bit of walking towards the end. I did find the strength to turn off my shortest route to visit another map square, and then to run past the car for another 300 metres to get to the full 21.1km.

It was really too big an increase in distance for me to expect to be comfortable, and then I tried to do it too fast in the circumstances, but nevertheless it was a good feeling to have succeeded.

I was passed by 12 cars and a motorbike, and passed a deer, a pheasant, two rabbits, three dog-walkers (with seven dogs), and two dog-free walkers.

Post-run thoughts:

  • I need to find a way to take on board water and potentially fuel during long runs. I’m going to look at running backpacks with hydration pouches, but do I still then need a belt for easy access to other items while running?
  • From Christmas onwards I will be doing a run of 13 miles or more almost every week as I head towards VMLM on 22 April. What was the pinnacle of my running distance-wise, and is still the longest I’ve ever run, will need to become routine.
  • I need to find a way not to get rubbed on my lower back/upper bottom by my sweaty shorts
  • With the exception of those sore spots on my back, post-run impact was pretty modest. This is good, and is encouraging me to consider more long runs this year before I get to the more intense 16-week lead-in to the VMLM.
  • I mustn’t get carried away too quickly. My body is still better geared to shorter running at the moment. My training focus should be the London 10-mile in Richmond Park in June.

Stephen afoot

I started running indoors in late 2007, and after reaching 5km indoors in March 2008, started outdoor running, and entered the first Royal Parks Half Marathon in October 2008. I did two more half-marathons in Reading in 2009 and 2010, after which my running rather lost objective and focus.

In 2014, I discovered parkrun, which gave a fresh objective, and I rediscovered my enthusiasm for running. Successful weight loss in 2016, together with several running friends (mostly online so far) and a growing love of parkrun tourism further increased my love of running.

A chance visit to the London Marathon in April 2017 (in the interval of Harry Potter and Cursed Child) generated a lot of emotion, and I found myself, having vowed not even to do another half-marathon because of the strain the training had put me under, seeking a place for the 2018 London Marathon.

To my delight and surprise, I quickly gained a place running in aid of Guide Dogs. With almost 12 months to go, my enthusiasm for longer distance running started to bubble over, and I thought it might be a good time to experiment with a blog, mixing run reports, thoughts and plans. I don’t expect a wide audience, but it may be interesting to experiment with the format.