Before agreeing to anything you should always try and find out as much info as possible. London Inline Marathon (LIM), was at Hillingdon and yes as the town suggests, the course is hilly.
My friend Simon who is an experienced speed skater and instructor advised me to ignore what I've heard and treat it as a day out with friends.
It was also the first event for the ESS group with our team jerseys so would be nice to be a part of this little historic moment! Especially since I helped design the logo and was there for the design of the kit.
At that point in time I'd already signed up to the Berlin marathon and this would be a nice warm up if I signed up for the half marathon at LIM.
Straight forward. Discount if registering early.
Nice and easy. You get your race number, also got a water bottle and energy gel too.
Each lap was 0.93 miles. So you had to do 14 laps for the half. 28 laps for the full marathon.
Before the race began I had a chance to test the track. It wasn't too bad, yes there are hills but the inclines were okay. The down hills felt shorter and wobbly! I was doing as Simon said and not taking this too seriously but I was using Seba FR1 with wheels which were 80mm at some point. The problem was that they were modified for slalom skating with a rockered setup. Bad idea. So much so that a skater I didn't know stopped me when I was back at the main building. He was really concerned about my wheel setup and was suggesting an alternative. With five minutes to the race, this was probably not the best time to do so. I stuck with what I was familiar with.
The full and half marathon started at different points on the track and at a few minutes interval. I think given the reputation of the course there weren't a huge amount of people.
We heard the first shot fired and it wasn't long before the speed skaters whizzed passed. The marshal ushered us to the starting line. Second shot fired.
The start was frantic. Lots of people fighting to establish their position. As I was there for fun I let them rumble out first.
I've always been more of a sprinter so I have a habit of wasting myself at the beginning of races. (thinking back to athletics in school). This is a marathon..
I decided to try and keep pace with my friend Ejaz. After a lap I dropped behind, it was too much work trying to keep pace with my slalom skates.
It was really tough. The hill at the start of each lap seemed to get longer every time. Even on the 'big,' downhill I was a bit cautious of as I had to fight the speed wobble.
The top guys were lapping me countless times with utter ease. With their speed it was impossible to even attempt to draft behind them. No one nearby was ever going at my speed, yet I still wasn't the last. The ability range was quite varied.
Because there were so many laps people came up with different ways of lap counting.
- Each lap eating one of your 14 boiled sweets but that was a potential choking hazard.
- Switching coins from your pocket each lap but becomes a problem if they fall out.
- Using a GPS but if it's not accurate enough you might end up missing a lap.
- At Goodwood I took a photo of myself, using my fingers to indicate lap number. It was a bit fidely messing with the camera each lap.
This time I opted for a permanent marker pen which I'd make a tally on my arm every lap. The problem with all methods is that in the heat of the event your mental state of mind may not be so sharp if you're really pushing your limits. In Goodwood I ended up doing an extra lap.
Back to LIM, at the end of my eleventh lap my friend Marco seemed to pick up speed and zoomed right pass. He crossed the line finishing his race. Impressed that he'd already completed it gave me a boost to get a move on. Lap twelve and I could see a lot more of my friends had already finished. They waved calling out something which I can only assume were words of support. I felt good. My rhythm and pace picked up even on the straight windy sections. I finally worked out how to handle the course.
At the end of lap thirteen my friends were calling out more frantically, stepping closer to the track. By now you've probably guessed what has happened. "You've finished! You've finished!!" I pointed to the tally on my arm explaining otherwise. As I went around the course I saw my friend Simon who was on First Aid duty, he also said the same as the others. I was sure I had counted correctly.
My friend Paul had finished and was still going around the circuit too. Except he was helping some of the other skaters who were still racing by being their pacemaker and blocking the headwind. (What a gent). As I passed them he also said the same as the others. The thing is I was actually enjoying the skate anyway!
So as I finished my fourteenth/seventeenth/final lap my friend Ania actually ran up stopping me, just in case I carried on. I was still convinced I had counted correctly but the times on the board said otherwise. Marco was apologetic as he didn't tell me when we were on the final lap. He beat me in the race by 5 seconds. I found it funny.
It was a really fun day out with the ESS group. My time (1hr 4 mins) may not have been the quickest but it was reassuring that I had energy to do more than I needed as I'll be doing the full marathon later in the year.
We ended the day with a big pizza and ice cream. I also educated my overseas friends about the awesomeness of a coke float.
"Any tips, reviews and advice are my own opinions and are not to be taken as professional view points. The information on this site is what has worked for me and is here for guidance only, but I hope you gain insight into the various activities I partake in." Jonathan Chen