Tag Archives: Tower Bridge

The London Marathon 2016

It’s been 8 days now since the big event; I think this has been long enough to reflect on what was an incredible day. I always wanted the London Marathon to be my first marathon, mainly because of seeing how great the atmosphere was on TV when I was younger. However, due to being unlucky (like millions of others) in the ballot I decided to take on the Manchester Marathon. It was 2014 when I ran my first marathon; those two years have absolutely flown by. Since then I’ve run 8 marathons, a couple on road and a few on trails.
My preparation for the race went well, last year I ran and raced consistently and over the first three months of the year I managed a decent mileage and went to track pretty much every week. As some of you may have read Cardiff Half Marathon went well, I was really happy to knock 3 minutes off my PB and qualify for Championship entry for London (and other races) next year. That was one of my A races, as such, and London was always going to be my marathon A race. The week after Cardiff I travelled to take part in the Paris Marathon with my girlfriend Lorna and friends. I was treating this as a B race and was there to support Lorna and try to help her get a PB, which we achieved in hot conditions.

With three weeks between Paris and London I needed to rest a lot so I barely ran. It was a combined rest post marathon and taper pre marathon. Over the last four or five weeks I feel like I’ve barely run at all despite doing three big races, I’m looking forward to being fully rested and being able to get bigger mileage and track in again. I felt like I tapered well, I only did the work run club and a couple of short runs the week leading up to the London Marathon. This included a shakeout run with Paula Radcliffe on the Saturday morning that was pretty cool.  

Photo courtesy of Alan Yan (@nikeengineer)

After the event Lorna and I headed across the city to meet my Mum, Stepdad, Sister, Auntie, Uncle and little (not so little anymore) cousin who were in the concrete jungle to support me in the marathon. We did a bit of sightseeing including taking a tour around the Tower of London, it was nice to catch up with the family and do something, it distracted me from the fact I was going to be running one of the biggest races/marathons in the world the following day. We had some really nice food and then I headed home to get an early night.

I woke up at 4:09am on Sunday morning, not ideal. With the race starting at 10 I was hoping to sleep until 6 or 7 at least but I just couldn’t get back to sleep. It was really frustrating but I just put on some music and tried to relax. Being such a big race with huge crowds and having family and friends around the course must’ve made me a bit stressed. I had some breakfast and then headed to Blackheath. On the way to my start area I gave Lorna a call, she was already near Tower Bridge helping set up KenYan Corner. She put friends on loudspeaker and it sounded like they were already having a blast (not literally, although we did wonder with the speaker set up! ha). 

 
I got to my start pen in plenty of time and dropped my bag off with ease; the organisation of the London Marathon is great. With a bit of time to kill I wandered around the green start area; it was the pen where the celebs and Guinness World Record attempt participants were situated. It’s insane what some people do to raise money for charity. Whilst waiting for the start I watched the big screen showing the wheelchair race and the elite women’s race. At the same time I tried to position myself in a sunny patch to keep warm.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1… and we were off! Being in the GFA start I was really close to the line. Having done 1:13 at the Cardiff Half I had set my target time for London at 2:45, I was hoping this would be achievable despite being 4 weeks after Cardiff and 3 weeks after Paris. I set off at around 4 min/km pace, but due to it being downhill for a fair bit of the first 5k or so I was running a bit quicker than target pace. I thought I would go with it and bank a few seconds each kilometre. I was ticking off the kilometres and was thinking about which points I would see family and friends and take gels. The crowds were amazing, I knew it was going to be busy and loud but to be running through London with crowds three deep was nuts.

At regular intervals I sipped on water and after 11k I took my first gel as planned. Things were going well, I’d gone through 10k in around 39 minutes that was a little quicker than planned but not too fast. I carried on at that pace and then at mile 9 I saw my family, it was great to have them out supporting me. Due to me living in London and them living in Devon I don’t get to see them as much as I would like. It was special to have them there to cheer me on, especially because it was with my Uncle Andrew that I ran my first race, the Ruby Run Half Marathon, with. They did really well to get to three points to see me, good work Sar (with the help of Lorna who’s done the London Marathon twice). Seeing my family gave me a real lift, I then knew within the next 4 miles I would get to see Lorna and friends at KenYan Corner. 

 Cheering looked fun! I’m hoping to do Boston Marathon next year and cheer at London. 

The approach to Tower Bridge is amazing, the crowds get bigger and bigger. Living in London and running over Tower Bridge regularly I had been imagining the experience of running over it in the middle of the road with thousands of people cheering me on for a long time. My expectations were surpassed; it was such a great moment. Just after crossing Tower Bridge I headed to the corner, not just any corner, KenYan Corner! It was great to see lots of friends out around the course, this was the best moment of the marathon for me. I was running by and they let off a confetti cannon. Due to it being KenYan corner I shouted Jambo Jambo!  

    Photos courtesy of Emily Hallett (@jemima_runs) & Michalis Vin Koutsoukos (@michalis_vin)

I had gone through halfway in 1:22, a little quicker than I had planned but I was hoping to hold on to this pace and finish in 2:45. Just after KenYan Corner (and Tower Bridge) James Poole came zooming up to run alongside me for a bit. He too was targeting 2:45 to get championship entry for London and entry to Berlin Marathon etc. After a short while I could tell he was feeling really good so he carried on whilst I settled into a pace closer to 4 minutes per kilometre. At this point I knew the second half was going to be a slog. My legs were already starting to feel tired and were seizing up slightly. When you are heading to Canary Wharf it is a little demoralising as you are A) heading in the opposite direction as the finish line and B) the crowds aren’t anywhere near as big as they have been around the rest of the course. I kept getting the kilometres done. I saw my family for the second time, this gave me another big lift and I was digging deep.

I had taken a gel at the 14-mile marker and was planning to take my 3rd and 4th gels at 20 and 23 miles. Due to feeling tired I decided to take my 3rd gel earlier, I took it at around the 18-mile point, leaving my 4th for 23 miles. I could feel my legs getting tighter and tighter, my stride getting shorter and shorter but I tried to keep going at 4 min/km pace. I passed KenYan Corner for the second time, it was great to see Lorna again, I was struggling but just wanted to get it done and still in a PB time. Along embankment the noise from the crowds was amazing. Due to being knackered I couldn’t really appreciate it fully, I just had to concentrate on putting one foot in front the other. I saw the Advent Running cheer crew, which was awesome. Whilst running along I heard “Steve Skinner!” It was Ciaran Saunders who I’d met through previously working in the London Marathon Store and because I work at The Running Works now. He caught up with me so we both ran together to the finish. As we approached Westminster my left hamstring tightened a lot. This was really frustrating as there was only 3k or so left to run but I had to stop briefly and stretch. I obviously knew at this point 2:45 was out the window but I still thought I could creep in under my PB of 2:54.

With my hamstring stretched quickly, Ciaran and I shuffled our way towards the finish on the Mall. At this point we were doing between 5 and 5:30 min/km, it was a bit of a sufferfest! We got to the finishing straight and could see the clock showing 2:53:.. We upped our pace ever so slightly to make sure we got in under our PBs. I finished in 2:54:08 shaving 48 seconds off my PB from the Thames Meander Marathon last year. I was so pleased to finish the race in a time under my PB and Sub 3 in my first marathon major. Overall I am a little disappointed to have not gone quicker but I’m really happy to have finished my first London Marathon and experience the incredible crowds. 

 Pretty decent haul in 4 weeks!

Thanks to all my family and friends for the support, you all made it such an amazing day for me!! 


Lorna (@lorns_runs) and I , thanks for the support!! 

Uncle Andrew, Auntie Hannah, my sister Sarah, me, cousin Tilly, Mum and Stepdad Steve 

I hope everyone else enjoyed the London Marathon and that you’re recovering well.

See a lot of you soon

Steve

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500 FOLLOWERS, 50 MILES!

I recently passed the 500 follower mark on Twitter and therefore asked myself the question “Why are all these people following me?” I almost feel guilty that I haven’t done anything special to deserve this many followers and so thought “What can I do to mark this occasion and show why I should be followed?” The first thing that came to mind was obviously running, the second thing was for every follower I could run a 10th of a mile and therefore do 50 miles in a few days. I would like to thank @UKrunchat for helping me reach this many followers and all of you that have followed, retweeted and interacted with me recently about our running.

Last week I didn’t run a huge amount due to other commitments and therefore wanted to get a fair few miles in on Saturday morning before work. This turned out to be at 3 o’clock because I just so happened to wake up then and felt ready to run (probably due to the two rest days prior). So because I decided to do 50 miles within the space of three days I set off on a bit of an adventure, I started on my normal route, so in to Tower Bridge and then thought why not head along the Thames Path for a while. This was amazing at 3 in the morning because I was there running along one of if not the biggest tourist spots in the UK all on my own in the “running zone”. I ran along the Thames Path for a fair while and ended up at Chelsea Bridge, I then ran back to London & Tower Bridge on the other side of the River past Westminster which was awesome. I felt good on this run and did the 23 miles in what I think is a reasonably good time, see pic below.

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Obviously not quite sub 3 pace but I was happy with this considering I only got about 5 hours sleep and this was one of only 3 or 4 runs i’ve been over 20 miles. I think this is a good base to work from in the next few weeks and after Reading Half on Sunday I will look to up the speed for the marathon distance.

To do the 50 mile challenge I set myself I split the miles up into three runs, I also decided that Sunday should be a rest day for injury prevention and recovery/rest reasons! ha The next part of the challenge I completed this morning. I did a similar route to Saturday but instead this time I did a couple laps of Battersea Park. This then also meant when I finished my run at 20 miles I was amongst some great places for food near the London Eye. I really enjoyed this mornings run, it was perfect weather, not too hot or too cold. The route is also a wicked route and to take in Tower Bridge, London Bridge, The London Eye, Westminster, Battersea Power station, Battersea Park all in one run is awesome. Running is definitely one of if not the best way to explore London and i’m aiming to get to Richmond Park, Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath etc in the very near future.

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The third and final part of this mini challenge was to do the remaining 7 miles. I did this by running 3 or so miles in to Boxpark and then running with a group for the remaining 4 and a bit miles. This was a good run and has done the job in keeping my legs moving so that I wont seize up and my legs hopefully wont feel horrendous tomorrow. It’s always a great laugh running with these guys even if it did start raining, but then again as some of you that read my latest Ukrunchat blog http://www.ukrunchat.co.uk/whats-your-excuse-2/ will know, that’s part of the challenge!

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I am pleased that I achieved this 50 mile challenge and would like to thank all my Twitter followers for inspiring me to do it!

I am now tapering for Reading Half and look forward to seeing some of you there hopefully. Good luck to all of you that are doing Halfs or various races in the next few weeks!

Happy running

Steve

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New Year, New challenges, New blog!

I’ve always wanted some sort of way to document and keep track of my running progress and write about what I encounter on my everyday runs, so I have arrived here. I will mostly blog about my running, the races i’m signed up to, the challenges I set myself randomly, and other things such as food, sleep, football, art, films etc etc.

I have signed up for a few races and have a few challenges in mind, they include; running Reading Half Marathon on March 2nd, Greater Manchester Marathon 6th April and then hopefully one of if not a few of the London 100k challenges, amongst other things.

My first aim is to get a Half Marathon PB at the Reading Half, which means bettering my 1.22 from last year in the Bideford Half. Ideally I would like to get nearer 1.15 however this may prove one step too far (pun intended!) as I will also be training for the Greater Manchester Marathon at the same time and therefore don’t know whether to push myself at Reading for the PB or use it as a training run and run at target Marathon pace!? hmmm (help/tips appreciated!)

My next challenge is to try and go sub 3 hours at the Greater Manchester Marathon. I would love to do sub 3 because that is “the golden time” to achieve and to do that for my first full marathon would be great. I also want to beat this time so that I can get a “good for age” place for London in 2015, good motivating factor that! I’m in the middle of upping the miles, and did a 22 miler on Xmas day and a 23.5 miler today so will then try and go the full distance soon and then work on goal pace throughout the next few months. I don’t have a specific training plan at the moment but I will tend to do longer runs now, as was mainly doing 10 or so milers mixed in with a few 5k & 10ks in December. I will also be helping other people with their training plans and be taking part in the Adidas 26ers through working at the inspiring, one and only London Marathon Store.

I’m going into 2014 in probably the best shape i’ve been in after completing a little challenge I set myself for December. To keep myself motivated through the last month of the year I decided to attempt 300 miles running, so almost 10 miles a day on average. I thoroughly enjoyed this challenge, mainly because it made running a big priority for me and also made me appreciate how important eating the right food and getting the right amount of sleep can be etc. Making running part of my everyday routine has been fun and meant that some days i’ve had to set my alarm for 5ish to get the miles in. Having that target of 300 miles to do drove me on and in the back of my head I knew that this would be beneficial in getting base miles/fitness in prep for Reading and Manchester in 2014. I’m pleased to say I completed this challenge on the 29th of December with no injuries and not feeling as if it was a massive struggle. Another factor that helped me motivate myself throughout this challenge was some of the views I got to take in whilst running around my new location of London.

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My regular route is along Regents Canal, Victoria Park and I now tend to mix it up more on longer runs, so to go over London Bridge and Tower Bridge etc to take in the sights. The challenge was also made easier by running with people and to and from work, so getting miles in when I could. I have met some awesome people in London aswell, mainly through run clubs and work. Image

Meeting people that are; training for Marathon des Sables, doing 100s of Marathons, doing the first 6 London Marathons and coming 6th in one of them and now walking 6000 miles has been truly inspiring. I tend to listen to people talk about their running and goals and think they are crazy but in the back of my head I know I will be doing those same races/events at some point in the future. I love the running community and the way everyone wants to help each other reach their goals and/or better themselves in any shape or form. On the other hand I also like to go for a run on my own at times, listen to some music (normally drum & bass courtesy of Hospital records/Med school etc) and go into my own little world. There’s a certain euphoria about running at a certain speed and for it to feel comfortable and relaxing, you have no worries apart from putting one foot in front the other. I probably have a number of reasons for why I run but I will get into those on another occasion.

I have probably covered quite alot in this first blog and may not even need to ever blog again! ha but I would like to finish by saying that today whilst I was out on my run in the cold, wind and rain I was running along Regents Canal when a “hobo” saw me. He started mimicking running and was smiling, I gave him the old thumbs up and he laughed and smiled. I carried on running with a smile on my face and these interactions with people are what make running amazing, it was his way of showing support and this carried me on for the rest of my run!

Till next time

Steve