London Marathon 2016

 

My first full marathon!

And what an event to start with, the London Marathon, the biggest Marathon in the UK.

Let’s start with a few caveats, these aren’t excuses, just points to consider because my preparation to run 42.2km wasn’t typical or anywhere near optimal.

1.       My longest training run before the event was only 16km

2.       I wanted to see how far I could go on solid food and not use nasty gels

3.       I’ve never ran further than 21.1 km and I’ve only done that distance 3 times

I’ve been experimenting with a ketogenic diet in an effort to improve my metabolic efficiency, to become a better fat burner and not rely on carbs. It’s been going well, all of my training was without any carbs, no gels or “sports” drinks, only on the 16km run did I eat anything, a Primal Pantry brazil nut and cherry bar (more on that later) For the marathon, the plan was to eat solid food rather than gels.

Unlike every other race I have entered, race registration is not open on the day of the race, so you have to pick up your race number the day before, this means you have no choice other than to stay the night in London. Registration was in the Excel center and the actual process of picking up the race number and timing chip was really quick and easy, the hardest part was weaving our way through the exhibitor hall to the exit. The whole registration event is just there to part you from your money. The fifteen quid to park was ridiculous too.

Registration done and it was off to the hotel to chill out and get ready for the big day.

Race Day

The race start was 10:00, fantastic! No need to get up stupidly early. I skipped the hotel marathon day breakfast, which was a just a plate of sugars and opted instead for a high fat breakfast of Greek yogurt, coconut oil and almond nut butter.

Getting to the start line was straight forward, as the tube and trains were free to competitors. However, it was incredibly busy, we had to wait for a while as one of our trains was completely full.

The plan was to meet with the other 10 Born Free, Jaguar Land Rover runners to get some team photos, but I guess everyone suffered with the trains and only one person turned up. We waited to see if anyone else would make it, but now one did, so I headed to my start pen.

The Race

My plan was to run 9 minutes, walk 1 minute, repeat. My Garmin was set with this interval and a maximum pace alert. What I forgot to do was to switch off the notifications from my phone, so every tweet, sms or email would vibrate on my watch, I didn’t know what was an alert or a notification.

9/1 Run walk out of the window, I settled into a steady pace, telling myself that I would walk through the water stations instead. Erm, yes, that didn’t really happen either, at least not for the first half of the marathon.

I wanted to take in the famous London marathon atmosphere, see all the sights and enjoy, but there isn’t really much to see at the start, it’s mostly running through housing estates and past shops, but there was a lot of support from the crowds.

About an hour in I ate one of my two Primal Pantry bars, they are nice and soft and very easy to eat while running. I washed it down with a quick drink of water, all good! Plodding on then, seeing the sights of London and trying to keep everything smooth and steady. Coming to the half-way point and I still felt fine, the time was slower than what I would run a half marathon, but that was good, I still had another half marathon to run! I had the second snack bar and still felt good, no digestion or energy problems.

At 32km, I thought I should start on the gels, not because I felt tired, but just because I thought that surely I’m not taking in enough calories. At this point I had only taken in 401kcal.

I necked a gel, a few minutes later I felt awful, I thought I was going to be sick, my pace dropped off and I felt miserable.

It took me a while to get back up to speed, I walked (quickly) through a couple of the water stations, but it felt horrible when I started to run again, so I opted to just keep running, don’t give up!

35km in and starting to pick up again I was passed by one of my JLR Born Free team mates, this really helped me, I tagged on to the back of him and quickly realized that I still had plenty left in the tank. Our pace increased all the way to the finish line.

Over the line and under 4 hours for my first marathon, pleased that it was over, but wishing that I had brought with me more solid food rather than gels.

Conclusion

03:49:51

I really enjoyed it. It was certainly an experience.

Maybe my experiment in nutrition is working for me, I felt fine keeping off the carbs and using the gels seemed to have to opposite effect.

I only consumed around 1000kcal from waking to the end of the race, my garmin says I burned 2617kcal, so I guess I ran on 1600kcals of stored glycogen and fat.

The big test will be the great north run, I’m planning to PR there on nothing but high fat foods.

 

Nutrition

Breakfast

  • Full fat Greek yogurt, coconut oil and almond nut butter.
  • Sliced meat, goat cheese
  • Hornet Juice
  • 2 x Primal Pantry Brazil nut & cherry raw paleo bar
  • 2 x SIS GO isotonic gel

Post Race

  • USN Whey protein shake
  • PHD intra+ BCAA
  • Primal Pantry Hazelnut & Cocoa raw paleo bar

Kit

  • Newton Gravity IV
  • CompressSport V2.1 socks
  •  
  • Zoot Performance Tri-Shorts
  • CompressSport TriTop
  • Garmin VivoActive
  • Gore running cap
  • Blueseventy number belt