News and views

06.05.2016

Ramesh’s Marathon Report

Ramesh Pala ahead of running the London Marathon.

Ramesh Pala ahead of running the London Marathon.

The alarm went off at 6.30 am. It didn’t have to as I had been awake for hours earlier from the anticipation. After a quick shower on went the well laid out kit from the previous night, followed by a small bowl of porridge, banana and I was out the door. I got to Greenwich Park in good time, meeting fellow club runners and wished them all good luck as I deposited my baggage at the appropriate numbered trailer.

This marathon was my second London marathon, and so I was fairly relaxed because I knew the layout of the course, location of the drinks stations. There were no last minute rest breaks, hydration or nutrition panics happening this time. The only real calamity was the strap of my running watch broke so I was going to have it hold it in my hand whilst I ran.

This year I had put myself in the 3.30hr pacing section. It was going to be challenging, but that’s what makes challenges worthwhile. At 10.00 am the bell went off to signify the start of the 2016 London Marathon. As I ran through the gates of Greenwich Park, I was taken aback by the roar of the crowds. The noise was LOUD. Music blared out from balconies from houses along the route. The residents of Greenwich had lined many deep along the pavements, cheering and holding up boards with messages. It was great to read them.

At this point in the marathon it about getting comfortable and in to a rhythm. I could see the marathon pacer with the 3.30hr flag. I caught him up and was feeling pretty good as I past him. My running watch was telling me I was head of pace so I decided to go with flow. This time I didn't need to weave in and out and was able to follow the marathon blue line which I believe is the truest route.

Throughout the route the pavements were full of people with cheering, some with bowls of jelly babies, and segments of oranges. Sound systems, DJs, Jazz bands, pop bands, Morris dancers, and Japanese Endo drummers filled the air adding to the atmosphere and aiding to the momentum of the occasion. By this time I was cruising well and enjoying the sights, The Cutty Shark, Tower Bridge and onto The Highway reaching 13.1 mile the halfway point; and seeing the elite Kenyans on the other side of the barriers.

After a few sips of water and a pre-emptive energy gel, a glance at my watch confirmed the pace seemed slightly ahead of my schedule as I approached Canary Wharf. Unfortunately, whilst opening a gel I knocked some buttons on my watch and lost data. This incident led to a sense of displacement as I couldn’t gauge my progress, also my legs were starting to feel heavy. However, I was looking forward to mile 20 as my running club mans the water station there. High fives and saluting the familiar faces is a great boost and as are memories of good club runs.

It was at this part of the marathon that I felt something was awry and I could see my time was knocked back. It is said that the marathon begins after mile 20 mark and I guess this is what they meant. I started to question my endurance training and tried to put the crowds, the noise and cheering out of my mind aiming just to concentrate on my running form. My feet still felt heavy as a sharp pain ran up my right thigh, AGHHH, CRAMP!!! Suddenly, I had a vision of having to walk the rest of the way, but that was NOT going to happen! I started to hit my thigh with a water bottle whilst running and after about 150 yards the cramp seemed to settle down (or did I choose to ignore it ?) and I felt more composed.

Coming through the tunnel at Blackfriars onto The Embankment is, for me personally the best sight EVER. Seeing the Tate across the river and Big Ben in front I knew I was almost there. I started to overtake others and turning right past Boudica I heard her screaming encouragement in her best Essex. Past the Cenotaph and only 800m, only two laps distances and then only 400m and a finally a sprint to the line. It was over.

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