Race Report: Virgin Money London Marathon 2015 – Simkiss Edition

3 Marathon’s… 3 cases of “thing’s didn’t goto plan”… this year was to be different. Hopefully.

The bulk of the training plan for this years Virgin Money London Marathon was to be an 11 week athlete study into running economy at the English Institute of Sport which would provide two quality runs a week working around lactate turnpoint pace, and then a long run at the weekends. Simple.

Psychologically the approach was a lot more relaxed, and a target time/pace was approximated based on data gathered during a lactate profile assessment… Simkiss likes data. It was also considered more likely to be accurate than McCarthy’s nonchalant comments of “you’re in sub 2:30 shape” – spouted repeatedly whilst he prepared for his 3:15 fun-run around the capital. An initial 2:35 target was revised to 2:34 following promising results from the final lab assessment – 5:52/mi target… around 18:13 per 5k.

Travelling down on Saturday morning, McCarthy had already done his bit and collected the numbers from the expo on Friday and was waiting for his beloved @ Euston Station… co-incidentally his wife and son arrived at the same time.

A relaxing day of minimal time spent on feet was ideal prep for Simkiss, and amidst his many super healthy / ‘saddo Paleo diet’ carb loading meals lovingly prepared by his superstar wife, race kit was prep’ed and a stretching session in the hotel gym saw out the penultimate day.

Race day and a sufficiently quinoa stuffed Simkiss was surprisingly early to the start area, beaten of course by the McCarthy Family and Project chief worrier, Chris Jordan. Minimal warmup was complete (as planned), legs felt good, and even stool consistency suggested a good run was on the cards.

Race underway and the early miles floated by – 5k in 18:12 (versus 18:13 target)… then another 5k in 18:12, legs feeling great and nothing to report other than the increasing desire for a pee-stop. 9mi came together with thinned crowds and some shrubbery, 15 seconds later, a much relieved Simkiss was underway once more and crossed the 15km marker with an 18:38 5k split. 15-20k passed in 18:20, a few more seconds had been lost but the legs still felt great and were ticking over almost effortlessly. Simkiss was settling back into a rhythm.

The clock at the halfway marker was buggered, but that probably worked in Simkiss’ favour. A Halfway split of 1:17:25 was 25sec behind target, but wasn’t of much concern as our athlete was starting to think about when to push the pace on. 20-25k done in another 18:12 split was made all the easier by catching, running alongside and overtaking Paula Radcliffe; “a surreal experience” as Simkiss describes it, “a welcome distraction” from the tightness that was developing in his left glute med/hip area.


25-30k in 18:13 was to be the finalé of the consistent 5k splits, a little ahead of plan – 19mi saw the screw turned a little and whilst the legs began to show their first signs of fatigue, a 17:47 5k was rattled off. Fading runners provided great motivation as short distance specialist was now pushing hard toward the finish, 17:50 brought him to 40k with only the tail end of Embankment and the horrible discomfort of Birdcage Walk to contend with. Twinges of cramp crept in over the final mile as the pace was pushed as much as possible on tight, tired and generally battered legs. A ‘sprint’ finish was restricted by the increasing threat of cramp but the line was crossed in 2:33:09 by SimkissTiming (TM) – later confirmed as 2:33:13 by the inaccurate official event timing.

Enough for 95th position and a 9 minute PB, making a very happy Simkiss; even a severe case of ‘bloody nips’ couldn’t dampen his spirits.

For once a recovery plan was in place too – Protein shake & carb drink immediately post race on the short journey back to the hotel – then a cold bath and healthy feed, before hopping on the train home for more feeding, it’s almost as if Simkiss is taking things seriously. “Other than a severely restless night’s ‘sleep’ (if you can call it that), and the sensation of a baseball bat to the left glute med’ area, the legs are currently feeling quite good…” Simkiss said on Monday.

Focus now turns to trying to get back out running as soon as realistically possible and minimise fitness loss.

More Photos available here…

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