This is my 4th year at LSST's London Inline Marathon but this time I was especially excited as it was hosted at a new venue, the Queen Elisabeth Olympic Park. Quite an upgrade of location from Hillingdon Cycle Circuit in Zone 6. (I still really like that course though!).
As I was helping out on various promotional material for this event I was lucky enough to have tested the track out prior race day. So I had the advantage of knowing what to anticipate, a one mile loop of hills!
Enjoy a sprint finish. Get sub 45 minutes for the inline half marathon. I wasn't sure if this was possible on this particular track, but I've always been around the 46 minute mark for this distance.
I was a bit laid back about everything and I guess having done so many events I don't really get pre event nerves any more. Downside is that I didn't really give too much thought into how I was going to approach this race. When the whistle went for us there was the same frantic sprint for position as always and I got carried away with the moment and I ended up overtaking everyone. The leading line consisted of skaters who I know are of a much higher level than myself, that's when I realised that this was probably a bad idea. Nethertheless, I was skating in the present. I was enjoying the speed.
It wasn't long before the leading line crept passed me and I slipped in somewhere in the middle. The pace was fast and I knew I was out of my depth. What I found particularly difficult was matching the pace of everyone with the changes in track gradient. As we hit a hill I'd end up transferring most of my energy into the person in front, then struggle to gain momentum up the hill again.
I later spoke to my friend Richard and he said he'd actually step outside of the paceline in these situations. Richard would get to the top of the hill ahead of everyone and then actually stop for the rest of them to catch up. Guess that could work if you have people happy enough to let you back into the paceline.
Flashbacks of my Mittelrhein marathon last year came to me. I didn't enjoy that race because I was physically pushing myself way beyond what I could. With that in mind I dropped off this speedy train. It's bittersweet whenever this happens, disappointed that I couldn't keep up with the others but then relief that I can skate as I want, being less mindful of others. I found myself skating the next five laps or so on my own.
In a nut shell the benefit of skating in a paceline is that you will be faster. (My friend Van goes into this topic in good detail here). On lap seven my friends Florian, Floju and Theresa crept on up and I decided to hop on. I took the lead on a lap before rotating to the back. Not sure what exactly happened but the gap between me and them suddenly got bigger. Before I knew it they were way ahead. Damn, not again!
For the next three laps I skated more casually with the three others just in the distance. I was having fun despite the race not going quite to plan. One of the track marshals was my friend Karen and I joked that "I can't catch them!" She said "Yes you can!" Wow, those words were magic. Somehow within thirty seconds I caught them again. Thank you Karen.
We continued skating together for the remainder of the race. On the final lap Florian and myself went for a sprint finish. Full arms swing action going on too, awesome!
Just as previous LIM events I continued going around the circuit helping out others if they wanted it. Although this time I was just keeping Elisabeth company as she finished her laps. She wasn't taking it as intensely as the others so we had a nice chit chat, enjoying the sunshine.
Thomas was one of the track marshals who I had not seen in a long time so I then parked up next to him who was cheering on the other participants. He gave me a sandwich and energy bar so had a nice picnic there. Cheers Thomas.
You could see that the remaining full marathon skaters were later struggling with the beating heat. Thomas and I continued giving shouts out of encouragement. I was shouting through a traffic cone in an attempt to crack a smile. Much respect for them for finishing the full marathon, this track is a toughie!
As I skated my way back to the start line I heard my name on the speakers. I thought maybe I wasn't suppose to be on track and they were telling me off or something. As it turns out I had won my age category and was being called to the podium. I was a bit confused and waited on the stand as I thought they hadn't called the others for the podium yet. Later someone said that 3rd and 2nd (Florian) placed skaters had already left. I got ushered along!
This year's trophy seems embarrassingly big for a sub category prize. Especially as the overall winner for the half marathon was over 6 minutes faster than me! Not complaining about the prizes from Club Blue Room though, extra skate bearings and alan key will always be useful.
My course time was 47:53:636 for the half marathon.
With the varying track elevations this was a challenging course for me, but would definitely do this again given the opportunity. The track is very smooth so the straights and downhills were a lot of fun.
Things to take away from this. Don't sprint at the start! This goes for both skate and run events. However it's not the first time I've done silly sprints during a race to no avail!
A plus from this race is that we've found our skate buddies for the Berlin marathon later this year. Since Theresa, Florian, Floju and I finished around the same time it will make sense to work together for our race next month. In particular for Theresa and myself as we'll both be doing the skate and run.
As for the organisation review. I'm going to be biased here but I honestly can't fault them. Everything from the participants' point of view was great. All of the LSST committee members are brilliant skaters but didn't partake in order to make this happen. Hats off to them all!
I've mentioned in a previous post about how meaningless it can be to receive a medal at every event you go to. However I've become sentimental about medals because of the memories and people you associate with them. For this event I was especially looking forward to receiving this finishers medal as it was designed by yours truly! Pretty cool seeing everyone wearing it proudly after their day's success!
More event photos are on the Scream At My Face Facebook page.
"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