Jon Slate's Marathon Run

We were delighted that Jon chose IntoUniversity as his charity to support in the Virgin London Marathon. He has raised over £800, and we are so grateful to him for taking on the challenge and to all his supporters for their generosity. Here is his account of his experience of the marathon, which took place on April 22nd.

‘I’d trained pretty hard for this since January, and although I’d had a few weeks where my mileage was lower than planned, I’d stayed injury free and was hoping to break my PB (2 hours 57 mins, set at the Liverpool Marathon in October).  Despite my nervousness about various things that could go wrong, everything went amazingly well on the day.

My starting position was quite near the front, so I crossed the start line only 15 seconds after the ‘Elites’. This meant I wasn’t getting held up,  but there were still sufficient numbers to mean I didn’t go charging off too quick.

Once the race was underway, I was overwhelmed by just how many people were watching and cheering runners on.  I don’t think there were any points of the course where there weren’t big crowds and at points like The Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf the noise was extraordinary.

My aim was to try and run the race in 2 hours 55 mins, which means about 6mins 41 secs per mile.
However, nearly everyone does the second half slower than the first, so I figured reaching half way in about 1 hour 25 mins would give me a bit of a cushion.

From early on I was going slightly quicker than 6:30 per mile and it felt reasonably comfortable. I caught and chatted to a few people I knew in the first few miles and then pushed on. Halfway was reached in 1 hour 22 mins, so I was ahead of schedule. Maybe 2 hours 50 was on?

At 16 miles I was beginning to slow slightly, and more worryingly, had a few twinges that felt like the onset of cramp. Suddenly I spotted a familiar vest ahead though and realised I had caught my clubmate Carl.
Carl is faster than me, and an experienced marathon runner, so it was a huge boost to be with him at well over half way. We ran together for about 4 miles around the Canary Wharf section and chatted a bit whenever we could. I think this really helped distract me from what might have been a bad patch.

By 20 miles I was definitely tiring but I knew it wasn’t long to go now. The thing that really kept me going though was knowing that Ruth, Elly, Finn and my parents would be somewhere around the 24 mile mark, and I wanted to be still going well when I saw them. Luckily I did spot them – not easy on the Embankment where the crowds are several people deep - and buoyed by their cheering and waving I was suddenly into the last mile. I knew now that I would go under 2 hours 50 as long as I avoided cramp and it wasn’t long before the signs counting down to the finish were in sight. 800 metres to go, 600 metres, 400 metres, 200 metres (these 200m intervals looked twice as long) and then the finish. 2 hours 48 minutes and 8 seconds. A PB by almost 10 mins and a very happy but very tired Jon.

Anyway, the whole experience was thoroughly enjoyable. It was extremely well organised and the atmosphere around the whole course was remarkable. I recommend that anyone lucky enough to get a ballot number still consider raising funds for their favourite charity, as you don’t have the pressure of needing to raise a fixed amount of cash, but you can still make a difference.’

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