Finding out I’ve got a GFA place for London 2019


Well, this is a blog post I never thought I’d write!

After 6 years of unsuccessful ballot attempts, to be honest, I’d long since given up hope of running London. I knew that a good for age time would be a big ask, and then the goalposts changed in terms of guaranteed entry anyhow. So when, by some miracle, I clocked a 3.39.58 in Edinburgh this spring, I still wasn’t convinced it would be enough. Thankfully though, it was. And it’s fair to say, I’m pretty damn excited about it!

2019 will be the 39th London marathon. Founded in 1981 by track athletes Chris Brasher and John Disley, it has been the Virgin Money London Marathon since 2010.

Did you know: On May 6th 1954 Chris Brasher paced the first 800m of Roger Bannister’s record breaking sub 4 minute mile in Oxford. A world’s first, and a very prestigious part of running history.

Anyway, back to present day. With over 40,000 runners and their families descending on London for the weekend, I though I’d better cash in my advantage of knowing I have a place early, and get organised. 40,000 people by the way is more than the entire population of Liechtenstein. An entire country.

The to do list:

Accept and pay entry fee

It took me all of three minutes to do this. I was too paranoid that they might have made a mistake and revoke my offer to leave it any longer!

Book accommodation

After a quick bit of research, I’ve come to the conclusion that being in Greenwich on Saturday night makes the most sense. I’ve heard that getting out of central London on marathon morning can be unsurprisingly busy. Equally, after the race, getting back to Greenwich is likely to be a nightmare. I’ve therefore booked two separate hotels. One in Greenwich for Saturday night and then Westminster (and walking/crawling distance from the finish) on Sunday. They both have free cancellation, so if any regular London marathon runners have any better advice, please let me know!

Game plan

I had a lose plan for next year already. Had I failed to get into London, then I was planning to run Edinburgh again. This to attempt a Boston Qualifying time of sub 3.35. So London will now be that attempt. Let me just make sure I can’t wriggle out of that one….

London marathon 2019 will be my BQ attempt of sub 3.35!

Okay, I think that makes me accountable! I have a 16 week training plan that I’m happy with. It’s actually aimed at sub 3.30 which I’m fairly certain I’m not capable of, but it does at least give me some leeway.

16 weeks before London means that my marathon build up will start on the 7th January, giving me a week to recover from the Xmas and new year festivities before I have to get my head down! I’m still planning on targeting a sub 1.40 at Bournemouth half marathon at the beginning of October, so that will leave one week to fully rest, a six week strength training block, followed by six weeks of base training to get my mileage back up before the sixteen week programme starts. Oh, I do love a plan!

Enter some other races

As if I needed the excuse for this one! I was just waiting until I knew my marathon fate so that I could get the timings right. My training programme includes two fast half marathon efforts. One at the end of week 6 and the other at week 10. I find that targeting races to run these really helps me. Not just the motivation to run faster, but also the practise of getting to an event, pinning on a number, eating a pre-race breakfast and getting use to the nerves. The two races that fall at exactly the right time on fairly fast courses are Bath half marathon and Hampton Court half. Both entered, another tick on the to do list.

New trainers

Mine definitely won’t do another cycle. Unfortunately, having just blown my running budget on three races this month, four if you count the New Forest half in a few weeks, then this one might have to wait a week or so. I’ve been running in the new(ish) Asics GT2000 v6 and I think I’m going with the if-it-aint-broke-don’t-fix-it approach. Like for like.

Despite some early planning, mainly because I’m so flipping excited, we all know that you can’t control everything when it comes to marathon running. Anyone who ran last year, the hottest on record at 24.1 degrees, when only two weeks earlier they’d been training in snow, will no doubt second that. Out of interest, in 1994, the coolest recorded temperature was only 7.6 degrees. Welcome to London!

Everytime I think about the fact that in April I’ll finally have a chance to be on the start line of the London marathon, I get physical butterflies. Right now, it’s a mixture of 95% excitement and 5% nerves, but I’m pretty sure as the date approaches that mix might change somewhat. Whatever happens though, I know that I’m going to love every minute of it, because after all….

It’s London baby!

If you’re running London year, I’d love to hear from you. What are your goals? What are you most excited for? Any tips if you’ve run it before?

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