Thursday, 27 April 2017

BQing at the London Marathon 2017

I bloody love the London Marathon. I love the circus that goes with it; that everyone knows someone running it, that it's all over the radio, TV and twitter and that there's this huge nationwide build up. And so it was a privilege to run it again this weekend, finishing in 3.34.17, getting a Boston Qualifying time (sub 3.35) and a 6 minute PB to boot!

I've been working towards getting a 3.30 marathon and a BQ since last year, and after 635 training miles, 4 months and over 90 hours of training, I finally achieved the holy grail of a BQ. Sure, it wasn't the 3.30 I was hoping for but a PB is a PB and an actual BQ is nothing to be sniffed at! These are times I've only ever dreamed of achieving.

What a day. It was AMAZING!

Mile 23 

Arriving at the Green start, I bumped in to Cathy who calmed me down with some great advice about not panicking if the running congestion slowed me down in the first few miles, and then I was almost ready to go. Stood in my pen I chatted to some girls near me and ignored the ones sprouting about how you will never get a PB in London. Hey people, don't do this. A marathon start line is no place for this kind of negative chat thank you very much. For the record I've now run London twice and both times managed a PB by 8 and 6 minutes respectively. So there.

Then before I knew it we were off! I couldn't actually believe all those months of training were coming together today and I was actually running my goal race. I kept my targets in mind and kept on trucking. It was congested, but not as bad as I thought it would be. But that was until we merged with the runners from the Red start at approx mile 3. Woah! It was then that it got really busy.

Just before mile 6 I got a terrible stitch which felt like my stomach was going to tear in two. I never get stitches so was kicking myself for skipping over the advice I'd seen on twitter the night before, about what to do when you get one. Worried how I was going to keep going for 20 miles I did what I always do when Im stuck - deep breaths through the nose and out through the mouth. (Thanks yoga!)
I couldn't believe mile 6 was my slowest of the race! Anyway, that soon passed and I concentrated on getting to where my boyfriend Jamie and our friends were waiting to see me in Greenwich. It's around here that the atmosphere REALLY kicks in. The crowds at the Cutty Sark are insane and then this support just keeps going for the rest of the run. At mile 11 I had the biggest grin and actually said out loud, 'this is AMAZING'.

On to tower bridge and swallowing back tears. Running over it was even better than I remembered. We clapped as the elite men passed us on the other side of the road and then I heard Hannah from Running club screaming and waving at me from the other side of the road. It was great!

At mile 15 -16 I had a bit of a dip. It was hot, much hotter than anticipated and the crowds were a bit thinner here. By this time I'd already realised I wasn't going to get 3.30 but was happy with the 3.32 time I was on for. But I needed to give myself a pep talk, I'd run 5 different 20 milers in training so why was I grumbling at mile 15?! I focused on getting to to Jamie's next spot and again the crowds picked me up. Blowing kisses to my supporters at mile 17 I was feeling happier. Until a man kicked me right in the knee! More pals, high 5's and cheers at miles 20 and 23 kept me going and I partied my way through the Run Dem Crew cheer spot at mile 21 - those guys KNOW how to cheer a marathon.

Then I  realised if I wanted a sub 3.35 and a BQ I had better put my foot down. And I did - miles 24 and 25 were my fastest of the whole race! A kilometer to go and the road became really narrow and busy with people slowing down. 'Keep going' I yelled as I got caught up in a group. Then the 800 meters sign, then 400, then I was at the Mall and sprinting my heart out. By brain was go go go but my body could only try it's best to speed up.

And that was it, arms in the air and over the finish line in 3.34.17. I'd just made it, that BQ was finally mine.

I've now had a few days to reflect on the race and take it all in. I was a little slower than I'd hoped and this could have been down to any numbers of factors; the sun, the congestion on course or maybe it was because I was a little afraid to go faster early on in case I blew up at the end. Even on your fifth marathon it still feels like you're going in to the unknown. Maybe I held back a little too much. But in the end, I gave all that I could on the day and absolutely loved running it, and you can't ask for more than that.

It was an absolute privilege to run the London Marathon this year and I just had the best time. Watching the highlights show the next day I was ready to do it all over again. The crowds and support are like no other. London is just the best.

For all the messages of good luck, support and love on and off the course on Sunday, thank you from the bottom of my heart. It means more than you will ever know.

Classic Crandon finish line sob fest


  1. You were so amazing Sarah! Thanks for sharing your experience, brought the tears back! xxxxxxxx

    1. Aww thanks Annie! And thanks for cheering me on on the day - was so great to see you! xx