Name: Chris Molloy
Age (at the time of first BQ): 27
Height (at the time of first BQ): 6″2
Weight (at the time of first BQ): 174
At which marathon did you get your first BQ? London
Tell us a little about the race. Coming into the London Marathon, I was tentatively confident that a sub 3-hour marathon debut was within my grasp. Although I would have liked to get in a few runs of > 30 kms, I was hoping that the number of long runs done on hilly trails would allow me to replace them with equivalent time on my feet. I was pleased that I had arranged to stay in London Fri and Sat night before so that I didn’t have anything to think about once I woke up on Sat other than collecting my number at the expo. Turns out that Kim ended up at a wedding in Guildford that weekend so I had her place to myself, which was ideal.
Went for a short (3 km) run when I woke up on the Saturday, and felt excellent. Really happy and full of energy, now all I needed to do was not loose that before tomorrow. I followed my run with a shower and porridge for breakfast before heading off to meet James and Helen at the expo, I had a jacket potato with tuna and cheese while I waited for them at the station. Helen was super excited about the expo, which meant we ended up trooping around for a few hours, which I wasn’t too bothered about, but it was fun non-the-less. We ended up going food about 4, which was necessary by the time it arrived. They then went out to wherever they were staying and I headed back to Kim’s for a quick turnaround before heading back out to meet Eilidh at the Paddington 🙂
Woke up about 6.30 on Saturday and kept my eyes closed before my alarm went off at 7. As many bites of porridge as I could manage and then off to the station. London seemed eerily quiet at that time on a Sunday, but we started to see fellow runners as we got close to the station. The journey was uneventful, managed to get a seat which I was pleased about. Unfortunately it did mean that we had to endure the guys behind us talking about how they were hoping to run between 3.15 and 3.45, which I thought was a pretty wide window for such a quick time. I needed to visit the bathroom which meant Eilidh and I ended up separating pretty early, although it turned out that she needed to get a head start anyway as she had so much spectating to do.
I had about an hour in the start area before things started kicking off, I peed about a million times, dumped my bag on the lorry and then headed to the start. I’d left Eilidh with my phone so couldn’t contact James but they had run into difficulty on the train in. I headed to my start pen and found that I was just behind the Championship Start guys, which was excellent, not to mention that I met up with James on the start line as the plan of him waiting at the back and me getting as close to the front as possible worked nicely. I didn’t hear the buzzer, but was soon swept along. I took a gel about 9.50, dunno if this was needed, probably not.
The first half was excellent, I was finding the pace comfortable and was happy enough chatting away to James. Early on he said he’d get to all the aid stations for me, so that was something that I didn’t have to worry about. We spent a lot of time trying to ease off in order to smash the last 4 miles, more on that later. Last time I’d run London, I didn’t have a clue what was going on, so I tried my best to take in the sights, didn’t really know what all the fuss was about at the Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge was a pretty stunning experience and I made it back to the bridge with the drums, it was much earlier than I remember it, but the experience was just as spine tingling. Just as I was wondering if I’d see Eilidh, I heard her screaming my name, as well as some other people shouting for me, I waved and gave her a thumbs up. I saw her again at 12 miles maybe(?) and she was just as loud. The second time was in a boring bit of residential London so she was appreciated even more. The last time I saw her I didn’t quite have the energy to give her a thumbs up, but I did manage to blow her a kiss, I think it must have been inside 10 k to go. James and I continued chatting away until I couldn’t about 32 km when I started having to dig deep, the plan was still on to unload in the last 4 miles. I’d investigated the course so I knew that when we went back past tower bridge we had just over 5 k left, time to start dropping the hammer.
Unfortunately that turned out to be not such an option. I didn’t know it, but I was already at the limit with nowhere to dig. From there it got really tough, I couldn’t really work out timings or distances left. My brain just couldn’t work out the umbers, I must have asked James how much further at least once a kilometre! Km’s 38 and 39 were at target pace, but that wasn’t going to last much longer as I dropped off the pace by 10 seconds or so per km in the final 3. At 40 km I realised that sub 3 was no longer an option, there was no way 2.2k was going to be covered in 8 mins. Without James I probably would have just given up at this point and coasted in for 3.05, however, that was not something he was going to allow to happen. He’d been encouraging me all race, but he really stepped it up here. “Look at all these people, I know you’re hurting, but they’re hurting more!!!” “Pick it up, let’s GOGOGO!!!” All I could focus on was listening to him and continuing to turn my legs over. Coming round the corner onto the Mall, we spotted an elf that was really struggling up ahead. He probably had 30 m on us, James was not going to allow him to beat us. I had other plans, I didn’t give a shit about this elf, he wanted me to dig deeper, I thought I had dug as deep as I could go. “Look at that elf, you can’t be beaten by a guy in fancy dress” – inner monologue “Yes I fucking can and I don’t care”. That was until James uttered “You’re going to be beaten by Will Farrell”, dunno what was so special about that, but turns out I did have a tiny little gear to go into, James was right, no fucking way was I going to be beaten by an elf in fancy dress. I was pumping my arms, all I could think about was getting in front of him, it was like running through treacle, but I got him. Twat. Serves him right for running in a stupid outfit.
I was completely broken at the end, James looked like he’d been out for a stroll! I collected my medal and my goodie bag and went to pick up my bag from the lorry. James’ goodie bag didn’t have an apple, he was very upset about this. We must have got separated at some point as he wasn’t there when I was trying to open my bottle of water, I was holding something in my other hands and I just couldn’t work out how. I had to ask a volunteer, and when he said well done I thought I might burst into tears.
Looking back I am mostly happy. To run 3.01.08 the first time I’ve raced a marathon with a realistic target time in mind is something that I’m very proud of. It was totally worth all the times that I had to get out to run in the dark and the cold. However, I’d be lying if I there wasn’t a tinge of disappointment about not going under 3, to start a marathon pb with 2 something would be very cool indeed. Something to target for next year!
How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 3 years
Did you run in college or high school? No
What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 1000 miles
How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 425 miles
Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 5
Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was? no
Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach? Yes
Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? I swam a bit at the end of the year before, but did no cross training in the 4 months before London.
Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? Yes, I tried to get at least 1 speed session a week. Would have preferred 2 but I couldn’t get to club sessions regularly due to moving around with work.
Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? If you want to run faster, run more. Easy runs can’t be too slow.