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Helen Antram returns to London 17 years after her 1st attempt and smashes the London Marathon…

I have run London once before, in 2000 I think, but had a really bad race, hitting the wall at 18 miles and not getting anywhere near the time I had hoped for. So with this ‘unfinished business’ in mind I have entered the ballot a couple of times and not been successful and had thought that maybe London just wasn’t for me. However, last year I found out that I may be able to get a qualifying time to get an entry. So, I trained hard for Wokingham half marathon and managed to get a qualifying time by just 3 seconds! Yay!! All that pain and suffering is worth it!! So now I had a qualifying time I thought it would be just rude not to enter – so I did.

And then the reality of all the training I would have to do hit me! I felt really lucky to have been able to get a place so I knuckled down to the weekly sessions of intervals, threshold runs and long runs. Plus a bit of cross training on my bike – Jeff (my husband) thought it would be a good idea for us to enter a 100 mile mountain bike event the weekend after the marathon – as you do!!! Luckily I really love running and cycling and training so it wasn’t too much of a hardship, although doing some of my long runs on my own was tough. I think doing the cross training probably helped with my endurance and avoiding injury.

Helen vlm

Training went really well and in March I did the 3 pre-London races I had planned – The Grizzly (my favourite race ever), Fleet half and Cranleigh 21. All these races went really well and so I felt well prepared – on paper I knew I had the potential to do the time I wanted – sub 3.30 – but I was worried about whether I would be able to do it in reality, and by the time race day arrived I was incredibly nervous. I barely slept on Saturday night which I expect was my pre-race nerves kicking in.

On Sunday morning we were all up early and picked Kathryn up on the way to meet the coach in Sandhurst. It was such a relief to just be able to get on the coach and not worry about how to get the start ( thank you SJ). Breakfast was eaten on the coach and then we were there. It was really exciting getting to the start and seeing so many other runners. Time went really quickly and before I knew it it was time to drop my bag off and get to the start – and then we were off!

No more time for nerves now. I started off quickly – too quick – I knew I needed to slow down. I managed to drop my pace a bit and just hoped I would be able to stick with it to the end. The atmosphere was just amazing – so many supporters and so much cheering – the noise was deafening at times. I followed my plan for fuelling but was definitely starting to hit the wall by the time I got to mile 20 – uh oh! I took on an extra gel and water and just focused on keeping going – only 6 miles to go – that’s less than a threshold run.

Helen's times

I started to get the beginnings of cramp at about mile 24 and my pace really dropped but somehow I managed to get through it. Then finally there was the sign – 600m to go, nearly there but I think that must have been the longest 600m of my life! Finally I had made it – I was at the finish and Lisa was giving me my medal and a hug and Sacha was checking I was OK – apparently I didn’t look very OK but I assured her I was. Then more hugs from Jim And Claire! Thank you to all of you – what an amazing way to finish a race. And I had finished in 3.20.49 so my ‘unfinished business’ with London is now finished. I really loved it and want to do it all over again now!


One comment on “Helen Antram returns to London 17 years after her 1st attempt and smashes the London Marathon…

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