The good news is that after all the ups and downs, the race went well for me. My main motivation for Sunday was to run a good marathon and improve my personal best to a time more in line with what I have been running for half marathons recently. I was aware that a good run would also get me the qualifying time for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the World Championships in Moscow later this year. There was a lot riding on this race. Last year I was bitterly disappointed with my race in London and then I was due to run the New York Marathon in November, which was cancelled because of Hurricane Sandy. I was starting to wonder if I would get my opportunity to run well. That is the nature of the marathon – so much effort goes into so few races.
After last year’s disappointment, where I got isolated very early in the race because I didn’t go with the fast pace, my plan was to keep with a group no matter what. Forget about the pace and just go for it. I had not intended to even bother looking at my watch – although clocks on the course would give me an idea of my pace. At the technical meeting the previous night we were introduced to our pacemaker (2:28:00) and there were a few girls who wanted to go out at that pace (including fellow Brit Amy Whitehead). Everything was set. I got a fairly good night’s sleep and the next morning I woke up feeling pretty positive and ready to get on with it.
The gun (klaxon, really) went and we were off. As it turned out our pacemaker got a little overexcited and took the pace out at 16.59 for the first 5km (2:23 pace). We’d slowed to 34:31 by 10km but that’s still around 2:25 pace! Nevertheless, I stuck to my plan and ensured that I was always running with someone. People came and went from the group, clearly battling with the same dilemma of pace versus isolation, and I was worried that the fast early pace would be my downfall in the later stages of the race. But for me it was the lesser of two evils. If I hit the wall later on, at least I’d know I’d tried. I wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice in two years. At the very least, I was going to make a different mistake this year!
Fortunately the risk paid off and, although slowing in the second half, I stayed strong and finished at 2:30:46 - under the qualifying time for the World Championships. I was the first Brit and 9th overall, my highest ever placing in the race. I was thrilled. I still hope I am capable of a sub 2:30, but it doesn’t help to dwell on these things.
Every race is different and sometimes you have to consider all factors before deciding whether or not to be happy. I can take a lot of positives from this race. This will be my second World Marathon Championships and it is an honour to be able to represent Great Britain along with fellow athlete Sonia Samuels.
It was a great day. The sun was shining and people were having a good time. After the terrible events in Boston the previous week, people were able to show their solidarity with Boston and their defiance against people who try to break the spirit of the marathon. I think everyone that took part or watched can be very proud of themselves. I am very grateful to all my family, friends, training partners and coach for helping me to believe and achieve.
I wore my Faas 300v2 for the first time in the full marathon and thought they were great. They are comfortable and light weight – no blisters. You can bet that I’ll be wearing them again in the World Championships.