After having conquered the 5 WMMs, Coach Pani talks about his experience of running his last WMM .
You can read the other three parts of this amazing journey on www.finishermag.com
39TH VIRGIN MONEY LONDON MARATHON: 28TH APRIL 2019(42,549 FINISHERS)
Here’s a fun fact for you – the London marathon is the largest annual fundraising event in the world!
This year was the 39th edition of the London marathon with the 1st one being held on 29th March 1981. The race is always held on the last Sunday of April every year.
This was my final race in my personal journey to complete all 6 WMMs and I was super excited to collect my 6-Star Finisher Medal. I started my training in Dec 2018 and finished two races in India – the TMM in January 2019 and the IDBI New Delhi Marathon in February 2019 as preparation for the London Marathon. In both the races, I improved my timing and was confident of repeating the same at London. After TMM, the PaceMakers annual training program shifts to training for your first 10K till July and then we start training for the HM/FM.
75% of the London Marathoners run for different Charities. The funds raised so far at the London Marathon since 1981 will cross an astounding figure of 1 billion pounds this year #ThanksaBillion.
I got entry through Active Holiday Co. and reached London 5 days ahead of the race day. I stayed at a hotel closer to the finish point so I could walk back after my run. The weather was pleasant with a slight drizzle, overall a good weather to run a marathon. I did a few easy runs to get a feel of the weather conditions, as usual, collected my bib at the expo on the day of our arrival so that I get two full days for sightseeing. In all my International Marathons I make it a point to go a couple of days prior to race day so that I simulate the race day by getting up early in the morning, having a light snack, hydration, etc. This has been my practice so far.
The London Marathon starts from Blackheath and finishes at The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace. The 2012 London Olympics Marathon also finished at the same place. The race started with 42,906 runners and the number of finishers were 42,549.
There are four assembly areas and three start lines and the easiest way to get to the Start Assembly Areas (Blue, Green, Red & Yellow) is to travel by train. The nearest stations are Greenwich, Blackheath and Maze Hill. Runners can travel to any of these stations for free on southeastern services from London Stations. Each start assembly areas have different zones and timing and your Bib#’s are allotted based on your estimated finish times submitted at the time of registration. Accordingly, you have to assemble on time and start the race. The three courses converge after 4.5 km.
On race day morning, as usual, got up early, hydrated well with Fast & Up Activate / Reload Tabs and had nice Breakfast at the hotel at around 0530hrs. I made sure that I visited the loo, checked if my Garmin watch was fully charged, chaffing areas are taken care of, gels and clothes are packed in the Gear Check Bag, etc. At 0700hrs, I left the Hotel and walked towards the Waterloo East Station to catch the train to Blackheath station as my start was in the Blue Assembly Area. It is better to catch the early train as it gets crowded as time passes.
I was in Zone 2 and reached 1hr in advance before the zone gate opened. As soon as the gate was opened, we entered and stood in the area for almost 30 minutes before our start at 10.10 a.m. As usual, I was wearing one extra layer of clothes to discard at the start. First, the Elite Men’s race started followed by Zone – 1, Zone – 2. By the time I crossed the start timing mat it took 5:27 to cross. Even splits have been my race strategy so far. If I feel strong after 35K then I go for a negative split. My aim was to better 03:30:00 @ 4:58 / km but, the course is slightly downhill for the first 6 kms. The roads at the start are also not very wide like some of the other WMMs but wide enough to run freely without running into one another.
The weather was cloudy at the start but pleasant. The race started with a pace of 5:01/km for the first two kms. I was happy that I was sticking to my plan. From the 3rd km, the pace increased to 4:47, 4:51, 4:39 but my effort level was the same from the start. I didn’t bother much and kept going but ensured that I hydrated and take my gel every 35 minutes. At the aid stations, you were provided with water bottles. I had a chance to relieve myself around the 17thK mark at a mobile toilet and that dropped my timing to 6:34. To cover up for the deficit, I ran the next 5 Kms at 4:38, 4:39, 4:44, 4:47 and 4:49. Then at the 25th KM mark, I could see my pace dropping to 5:20/Km. I reminded myself that I shouldn’t allow it to drop further and began to push my pace. The next two kilometers were 4:57 & 5:00 and maintained it. I was feeling very good and started overtaking runners who had overtaken me at the start. In the process, at the 40th KM, my left hamstring was giving trouble as usual. I immediately slowed down a bit and continued to finish the race in 03:28:43. This is my best performance in comparison to all the six WMMs. I felt ecstatic at how everything fell in place for this Marathon. The crowd support like any other WMM was exceptional. I was following the shortest route marked by blue lines like in any other WMM. My Garmin watch showed 42.41 KM in 03:28:48 @ 4:55 / KM. My Splits – 5K – 24:23; 10K – 48:38; 15K – 01:13:26; 20K – 01:39:10; HALH – 01:44:26; 25K – 02:03:48; 30K – 02:28:54; 35K – 02:53:41; 40K – 03:17:35.
After the finish, I was really exhilarated to go collect my London Marathon Finisher Medal first and later to the Six Star Medal Counter to collect the Six Star Finisher Medal.
Holding that medal in my hand was a moment that I will cherish forever.