Friday morning 8.30am Penzance train station and what?s this Mark Omori early! We board the train wave good bye to love ones and in true Mounts Bay Harriers jovial fashion set off on our journey to the 30th Virgin London Marathon, it?s Janet?s birthday and Jer feeling guilty as his surprise birthday present was stuck at a delivery depot in Barking, so big cake with 21 candles lit, bottles of champagne, Jer had made Janet wear a birthday cake hat complete with candles to achieve maximum embarrassment as we all belted out happy birthday in several different key?s (I think we pretty well nearly managed to clear the carriage)
we met up Doug and the St Austell crew whom were in the next carriage, they we?re invited to enter Ian?s Marathon trivial competition, a competition solely designed to bring ridicule to every MBH member, the rest of the journey was spent with plenty head scratching and needless to say we can all run a marathon, but do we know anything about?(next year I?ll set the question?s and I can guarantee they?ll be a dam site easier)
THE ARRIVAL AND EXPO
Hitting the Big Smoke we head to our hotel in Covent Garden, dump our bags and set off to the expo (Oyster cards in hand) as we enter the Expo who should Ian spot? None other than the GB female number one marathon runner and world record holder Paul Radcliffe, so as she tries and escape?s the building Ian shouts over to have a picture taken with her, me and Sue rush over to have a quick pic with Paula and also sign her up to MBH (her honorary membership card is in the post as we speak)
We meet up with Viv (our headcoach) and get our chips and numbers, so now on into the Expo Ian?s got his credit card in his hand and is starting to drool over the prospect of all the fancy new running gear on offer, Sue at this point is starting to have hot and cold flushes and even attempts a Betty Boo type faint to no avail, as Ian?s eyes have glazed over and he?s broken into a sprint in the direction of a stall with some hi-tech running shoes on show.
Viv is busy talking with other coaches about the new coaching qualifications, Jeremy and Janet head off looking at all the stalls followed by Andrew, Eve and Nige head off in a different direction leaving yours truly to mull around meeting up with different compatriots a different stalls, as for me I picked up a few freebies, a bought a couple of items (one them maybe mentioned later on by popular demand) at one point I am pretty sure I nearly sold some people a pair of Newton?s on the Newton stall only to be dragged off babbling about how good they were and trying to get them to do a demonstration for the club, I meet up with everyone to head back to the hotel, Ian?s looking a bit dejected as Sue cut their credit card by the third stall in.
Anyway back to Covent Garden a futile walk around looking for a restaurant to eat in, only to figure our it was Friday night and everyone else had the same idea, so we end up going up market and eating at the hotel, the signs were ominous as the guy sat behind complained about the burger being some what old and uncooked, anyway at this point we would eat anything and we did! As it happened the pizza and chips was pretty good.
Saturday me, Andrew and Jer are up early and out for a run and back for breakfast with everyone else, surely this can pass with out incident involving me! Well I?ve got my soya milk and flax seed, wheatgerm and some microwavable porridge (just in case they don?t do porridge) well we all had breakfast everything going smoothly until I asked if they could microwave my porridge, I explain in plain English how to do it and the pretty young waitress from Vietnam nodded and said yes a few times only to come back five minutes later with my porridge bow and apologising profusely, where there was a small incinerated blob in the middle of the dish and porridge splattered all over the place(I think I could hear the chef cursing in the background, well at least that what I think it was a my Indonesian isn?t what is should be) it turned out that they had decided not to follow my instructions to the letter and use a plate instead of cling film to cover the porridge dish.
Fresh and feed we head off to Covent Garden and to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane as Ian and everyone else wanted to see Oliver (the earlier porridge incident had remind them that it was playing) I on the other hand have planned a nice night in with a large hard cylindrical item I purchased at specialist stall the expo.
Incident number 2 (and this does not involve me, at least not much) We?re stood in Covent Garden waiting for Sue to get ripped off by a Tarot card reader, only wish she?d gone to a fortune teller first, so she could have been warned not to go to the rip off Tarot card reader in Covent Garden. I out of the corner of my eye spot some minor reality TV celeb who?d had been on the Jonathon Ross show the night before, Off run Ian, Sue and Janet whom now has forgot that she can?t walk after doing in her hip, everyone else watched on in amazement at the perfect pincer move that Ian, Sue and Janet performed as they closed in for the final assault, the minor celeb started spitting at them, no he wasn?t being nasty but he had a very bad lisp, but was lapping up the adulation and posed for photo?s with them all, (I would like to know how Ian got a picture of the minor celeb in the bath?)
We then split up, Ian and crew off to Leicester Sq me off to a couple of very fine art exhibitions and then after bumping into them later I go for a fine meal in Neal?s Yard (marathon fuel see pic)
That evening everyone heads off to the theatre after giving me some stick about the item I had purchased at the expo, anyway after short discussion they decide it?s safe to leave me alone with it, I now spend the night relaxing and catching up on some computer stuff I need to have a look at, no I wasn?t surfing the net for porn sites (I couldn?t find the hotel code for them)
THE STATLER & WALDORF AUDITIONS
Later Andrew rolls in singing ?pick a pocket or two? stumbles around and falls into his bed after sitting in a box with Ian (all I can picture is they most have looked like something of the Muppets) I believe a good time was had by all.
RISE AND SHINE
Bloody hell Andrew?s up at five trying to sneak around and failing miserably (how does he think he could do it is beyond me as he couldn?t manage it last night either) it?s Marathon day everyone down for breakfast, I?ve got my flax, ginseng and wheatgerm to much jibbing by everyone else, Ian had wanted to get on the very first train available as he was under the impression that there was a prize for the first person to reach the start line, anyway we meet up with the lovely Yvonne grinning from side to side, a team photo and into the blue area and Nige off to the red good for age, we all start putting on lotions and perform various voodoo rituals that all runners seem to have develop as their own personal pre-marathon preparation, of course the weather has been predicted hot and sunny, so why are we stood around in black plastic bin liners getting soaked?
We all say our good lucks and head off to our pens, I?m in pen 2 so I get to the front of pen 2 and I can see the 6.50 pacer in pen 1 so I jump over and have quick word with him just to see how he is going to approach the race as I?m not to sure whether I?d be able to see him or keep up with him, as he has said that it?s fast start and then ease back later in the race before a final push, well there goes all Viv’s good advice out of the window, so I trot back to pen 2 but manage just to keep at the back of pen 1, one quick pee and then everyone starts moving forward, shuffling along and the announcer introducing all the elites, next thing we?re off.
I cross the mat and start my Garmin time to throw self doubt out of the window (there?ll be plenty of time for that later in the race) I can see the pacer about 30 metres from me, so I?m quite happy, I keep looking up and he seems to be opening a bigger gap, bloody hell how the hell do I get through this wall of runners, I manage to go onto the pavement a few times just to keep him in sight, then about a mile and a half into the race I pass Di from East Cornwall Harriers whom shout at me about letting her win, (sorry Di any chivalry I have has gone out of the window it?s a race!) so for the next mile or so I?m concentrating on trying to catch up with the pacer boy this is a mad pace for so early in a marathon can I keep it up? second mile 6.16, this is going against all I?ve been taught about marathon running and I?ve still not caught the pacer up, but by about 2 and half miles in I?m up with the pacer who is happy to see me (I know what your all think poor chap he doesn?t know what he?s let himself in for) back to the race the red start joins us and the widens, I have a look over to see if Nige is there, no sign maybe he?s ahead? Pushing on there?s a group of us following the pacer I ask his name to which he replies Real so we have a laugh about have the Real pacer who?s going to get us in at the Real time (ok so they?re humouring me) and Mighty Mouse is still hanging on here but either he can?t hear me or he?s met me before, wow this pace the first 5k 20:24 we are flying, it?s hard picking up drinks at this pace but there?s a camaraderie between the group of runners and we all pass the drinks around so all is good except when is he going to start cutting the pace back O.K so we?re still have to cut through other groups of runners and I?m think at Cutty Sark which just after the 10k mark (41:29) we head over a bridge and through Deptford I know by now ever other race report on the planet would have described how the atmosphere was excellent the crowds out side the pubs, the music, the kids, the hand slapping, but I was focused trying to keep telling my self it?s alright the pacer knows what he?s doing I know he?s foreign, hope he?s not from Vietnam or Indonesia as my Indonesian and my Vietnamese is shockingly below par, maybe he?s the sub 2:30 pacer, bloody hell what if I?ve got it wrong? will it all go tits up, mile 10 and we?re still averaging 6:37, did I just hear he tell somebody that he was aiming to be at the halfway mark at 1:28? That?s 2 minutes faster than I was thinking.
HALF WAY HOLY CRAP! 1:27:57 wish I?d took a foreign language at school, preferably Vietnamese or Indonesian.
Well must keep on in there, I?ve got a bit of a twinge in my right hamstring hope nothing happens latter on, I?m feeling fairly OK, I?m still hanging in there and the pacer is only a few metres in front, we had a bit of rain before the halfway mark around 11 miles which was OK and the sun keeps popping out, some time just starting to feel a bit hot, the pacer say that we should see the first women elite and bang on cue as if it had been scripted they appear, I recognize Dita and I wasn?t to sure who the other 3 were but next up was a wheelchair racer (no idea who it was) we turned of at Limehouse and headed down to the Isle of Dogs and I?m still there with the pacer insight, there?s still plenty going on and lot?s of noise and I?m still over taking plenty of runners, have to keep checking 30k into the race 2:05:46 keep focused that can?t be 6:38 for that last lap I thought he said he was going to ease back! No over the next few miles through the Isle of Dogs and back up through Canary Wharf under underpasses more noise, lots of beer swilling spectators I?ve got a beer waiting at the hotel, better still it?s a free beer FOCUS! FOCUS! FOCUS! Beer at hotel! Now at the water station at mile 19 I?m a bit slow at getting the bottle and some runners get in my way, when I look up the pacer is opening a gap, so not to panic you can see him it?s not a disaster yet, over the next few mile that gap has widen and I?m hot every so often the gradient of the road changes and the legs take a bit of a push to keep going at pace do I give in to the temptation as I can see other walking and some slowed do to a jog, but no even as some guy offers me a pint in mock jest I know it?s not an option, at around mile 20 I could hear the crowd shouting for the pacer, but it was as I just paced them so there must have been a pacer just behind me that must have started at a different start, so as the pacer I?d been following was now 40 or 50 metres ahead he must be bringing his group in at the same time so all?s not lost I can just keep up with him, but after a mile or so I no longer hear and cheers for the pacer behind me so where does that leave me, I popped my last gel knowing I had just over 3 miles to run as I passed Tower Hill I started to feel good and pushed it a bit doing the next mile in 6:49 and not losing ground on the pacer, into mile 25 and I?m sure I closing him down but I?m hurting, but the guy in front he?s really hurting clutching his hamstring, if he can do it so can I, there?s loads of runners giving up and I now pass the guy with a tight hamstring as I round the Embankment I can see Big Ben blood hell it?s still a fair way away but I?m sure I?m in there with a chance, I?ve got the bit between my teeth and I go through Heading up to the sloop to Westminster think I?m sure that it was a bigger sloop last year, anyway looking up at Big Ben not sure of the time exactly as I can quite read the big hand but I sure I got about 6 to 7 minutes to get to the finish (why can?t they install a digital clock much easier to read when your running, after all it is the 21 century) so the final mile and a bit I?m going to do it, I?ve now closed down the gap on the pacer and run past him just at the start of St James Park, he shout?s out at me ?go for it Mark? and that gives me the little extra boost to speed up for another 200 metres before I see the 600 metre sign up a head and think that now?s not the time to sprint, just keep it real and get to bend a Buckingham Palace then see how for the finish is before a final sprint, so a round the bend and can see it?s about 100 to 150 metres so as I pick the pace up and get into a marathon run sprint I set my sights on the middle gate, the clock comes into focus and it?s under 3 hours but it?s ticking away very quickly I just muster the last bit of fast twitch fibres left in my legs and hand up in the air as I cross the line with the time on the clock at 2:59:50 I?ve do it yes Gus will be please I?ve not beaten his time, I bend down hands on my legs and then remember I?d better keep moving, get my bag have a stretch and a photo.
So now I?ve positioned my self to trying see Ian and Andrew, no sign of Nige he must have finished, I see a few Cornish whom congratulate me then I see Craig Tonkin and think to myself oh shit we better hide the razor blades, then Anthony Burrows and then final I spot Ian and I shout to him which takes a few seconds for him to look up and start to move his head in dejected way, right how do I play this as I?m jumping up and down inside doing cartwheels, but as I?ve Ian being the super guy he is well pleased for me and I can already see in his eye?s that he was planning his next marathon and break that good for age time. Andrew arrives he?s back in at 3:17 something, so we walk back to the meeting point talking sharing thoughts, but I?m now trying to get down a recovery bar and it?s becoming harder and harder, surely I?m not going to be sick, but better just look for a quite place just in can, whoops to late as I manage to avoid hit anyone except for a small splattering hitting the back of Andrew?s shoe (sorry)
…………..to be continued.