I DID IT!
The hottest London Marathon on record. The largest London Marathon on record.
And I’m almost certain I smiled my way around the whole course. I smiled so much my cheeks were sore the next morning. The whole event completely lived up to my expectations and I completely understand how marathon running can become addictive!
Well. On reflection, that was definitely the best run of my life. I was warned repeatedly about the wall – I never hit it. I most definitely got my fuelling right. Mixture of gels, 2 which I never took plus I took on two Lucozades during the course. I also accepted a strawberry cable and jelly babies – but only if I could get them myself. I don’t want yo’ sweaty hands on my treats!
Don’t get me wrong, around 15-25km I was guilty of doing a little clock watching. It was fairly boring, not much to see but I never thought or considered ‘I can’t do this’. The two brief sightings/pit stops I took to see my other half were so motivational. I can’t describe how pleased I was to see his smiling face.
No nothing from the pain in my side, or ass, piriformis. There was no great emotional battle between my body and my will. On the odd occasion during my walking section I stopped to stretch out a little but that’s not out of the ordinary for me, that was part of my strategy. My training had told me where the aches and strains will be, although these were joined by the top and bottom of my back. I’m blaming all the bending down I did to high five children on my run – everyone else was ignoring them and being the teacher that I am, I felt it was my duty to put a little smile on their face.
I was in the final wave of the red start. Land of the fancy dress runners. Throughout the race I kept track of a few fancy dress runners; Mr Bump, the Bobsleigh team, human-sized puppy just to name a few. Mr Bump I level pegged for a long time but then I moved away to the distance. Admittedly that felt nice. The bobsleigh team, yes, they were carrying a bobsleigh between a crew, kept creeping back up to me but I staved them off. I overtook the ladies running in their underwear, was overtaken by two men busking there way through the marathon – they had amps, electric guitars and the power of song. Attempting to break the world record poop emoji lady whizzed past me, sadly it wasn’t going to be a world record as her costume had to be rigidly inflated. The weather just didn’t allow it, but she still ran in costume!
Yes, these people are running in costume. Yes, if they take the costume off, they would probably whoop my ass. But it was those small victories, alongside ticking off the KM and miles that kept me going.
Pacing? My hard work over the past few weeks paid off. I kept a fairly even split, well I think it’s fairly even. My last half was 2.6 minutes slower than the first, I’ll happily take that.
The weather was the hottest on record but rather oddly I never stood (more like ran) there and thought ‘jeez, I am hot!’. My short run on Thursday felt worse, heat-wise. On Saturday I purchased an emergency running hat. Picked a lovely cooling white ADIDAS cap. Definitely kept the sun off my face and head. The heat played carnage for other runners. It was sad to see so many runners laying stricken on the side of the road being attended to by marshals, ambulance services etc. I wasn’t left particularly impressed with the mist showers, they genuinely only had a 1/2 metre radius and were only ever on one side of the road. Further ahead in the race, where it was busier, that must have been a nightmare. As it was, we had to queue to use them. Thank goodness for the fire service laying on extra mist showers at their stations. Much wider coverage and easier to access. I tried to not get too wet, most definitely didn’t want to experience anything chafing. Pleased to report I didn’t!
Throughout the run I poured a little bit of water on both my wrists plus the back of my neck – I went against the dousing advice. I didn’t pick up water bottles at every stop, even on a hot day you don’t need to take on water from every stop. Water was due to be available every mile after mile 3. Highly surprisingly, 6 miles worth of water stops had run out of water. 3 of those miles were back to back. That was not pleasant. In the end, alongside other runners we kept eagle eyed to discarded water bottles still with water. Rip off the sports cap, douse the wrists, neck and the drink the rest. Maybe not the most hygienic but what else could you do.
What surprised me the most was the fact that not once during the race or afterwards, did I feel dizzy or faint. I made a very conscious effort to consume more salt the day before. My salt intake, or lack of salt plays a big part in my ‘episodes’.
A very sunny red start.
Following on from the water shortages, this is where the locals and spectators really came into their own. Word must have got round about the lack of water at certain miles. Water pistols, garden hoses, spray bottles all began to appear. Residents dishing out water from plastic cups, spectators going off buying bottles. I kindly declined the several offers of a pint. I hate beer/ale anyways!
In the run up to the marathon, I saw a few advertisements from the organisers about a name printing service. Luckily, my shirt already came with the iron on transfer but I remember the advert said something along the lines of ‘where else can you hear thousands of people shout your name?’. No-where else, obviously. It was so uplifting to hear your name called out, genuinely appreciated everyone who done that and gave them a little thumbs up. I deliberately kept my music down low, sometimes off so I could enjoy the crowds. THE best part is whenever you came across a band, in particular drumming or steel bands. There was a fantastic drumming band located under an underpass, the sound and acoustic was sensational. Extremely motivational.
Don’t get me wrong, there were spectators everywhere on the course – seldom few places were thin on the ground support wise. The final miles were sensational, quite a few bodies deep. The charities were all lined up, so many people shouting your name, shouting encouraging words. It’s those moments that I hope to never forget. Towards the end I must have been on such an adrenaline high – as I approached several official photographers I decided to click my heels. Genuinely think I looked insane at times. My music towards the end also contributed to my elated mood: The Immigrant Song (Led Zep), Bat Out of Hell (Meat Loaf), Barbie Girl (Aqua), Let It Go (Idina Menzel) to name a few. All suggestions by friends, family and colleagues!
Tower Bridge, the half way point.
Post Race Reception
We found it a little tricky to find the Marie Curie post-race reception. My own doing as I never bothered to snap a picture of the map as to where it was. Literally down the road, straight from the finish. Stupidly tried in vain to use google maps but the coverage was awful due to network congestion within the area. Nevertheless we got there with the help of a guide to the cheers from fellow runners and their families.
Declined the food/drink and made an immediate bee-line to the sports massage. We bumped into Jane, who we met and chatted with on the walk to the red zone. She’s the CEO of Marie Curie! Then swiftly followed this with a highly enjoyable shower in one of the hotel rooms. For your info, this wasn’t any old bog-standard hotel – it definitely had some expensive class to it!
We enjoyed what we could of the post-race reception but we were very conscious of the time. It was almost 6.40pm and we still had to travel to the other side of London (an hour!) to reach the car, let alone drive home. In the end, we got back in town around 9pm, picked up a KFC and decimated it. I still hadn’t eaten after the race by this point but in typical me style, I wasn’t actually hungry after the marathon. During training, I never was for a few hours after my long runs.
So, in Summary…
An amazing, life-affirming and maybe not quite so once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Two years ago, I couldn’t even run 5K and never imagined running a marathon. A lot of the time I reflect on how much I have achieved since Dad died. His death is what has spurned me on to do this, the catalyst. If he was still alive I probably wouldn’t have even considering taking up running, let alone completing a marathon. It’s strange how somebody dying impacts on your life.
I called it last weekend, I will be back for the Brighton Marathon weekend. If neither of us get into the London Marathon via ballot (Yes, I want to do it again and yes, my other half now very much so wants to do the same!) we will be there… has the marathon addiction begun?
The epitome of my marathon experience. FYI, I’m mid-clicking my heels together just before the finish!