And so that’s it. Done. 26.2 miles on a truly beautiful, warm (too warm) sunny London spring morning. With no stops, I got round a full ten minutes under the 4-hour barrier. I could lie to you and pretend I didn’t shed a little tear on the finish line, but to be honest it was all I could do to stop myself dissolving into a blubbering mess. It was my second marathon – and really, genuinely, quite possibly my last – but many things made this year even more emotional than last year, and I didn’t think that was possible.
Firstly, I completed what I trained for. A sub 4-hour marathon. Last year I was aiming for “about 4 hours” and finished 4hrs44m with a very dodgy calf muscle holding me back. This year, I set out to do something and through months of hard slog and good luck, got it done. Some people can roll out of bed and run marathons in three hours. I’m not one of those people. I know what it took to get myself fit enough to do this – answer? A lot!
Secondly, what happened in Boston was always going to make this a different experience. I will never, ever forget standing shoulder to shoulder with runners from around the world, in such perfectly observed silence that you could hear the chirping of the birds in Greenwich Park.
Thirdly, with the help of many people reading this blog, I had reached my fundraising target of £2000 before the marathon started. With Gift Aid, the total is now above £2,600. I’m absolutely chuffed for Get Kids Going, who do such an amazing job and so grateful to people who have been incredibly generous.
And finally, London. Wow. It was mentioned once or twice last year, but you really do know how to put on a show! And the crowds… It is said so often, it has become cliche, but the crowds are incredible. The noise on parts of the course, especially Tower Bridge, is deafening. Running with your name on your running top is an absolute must. For the first few miles, it is a lot of fun hearing people shout your name. For the last few miles, it really does push you along. They’re not kidding around some of the spectators either – one gave me such a heartfelt shout, that I spent one mile running for her! I’ve no idea who she was and I will never see her again. That’s what the London Marathon is all about, I think. The times are important to individuals, yes. But, it isn’t really a race for most of us. It is an event where we can come together with friends, family, strangers and celebrate, shout, sing, dance, run, walk, hobble and raise millions for people who are having a hard time. All in all, it is a pretty good idea.
As for the run itself… it was game of two halves, Brian. Happily, Chris and I stuck together all the way round. We pushed each other at the right times, though we didn’t have it in us to catch the 3hr45m pace-setters as they cruised by on about mile 21. We completed the first half in 1hr52m, and along with 95% of the field, came back rather slower for the second half. The last six miles in particular were hard going. Chris confessed my well meaning shouts of encouragement weren’t helping by the end. He even stopped talking in the last three miles, so I knew something must be going on with him! Our comrade, Huw struggled round despite his injured knee completely exploding on him half way round. He’s
one of the most determined person I know, so I didn’t doubt he’d finish, I just hope it hasn’t cost him too much.
Did I hit the wall? Yes, I think I probably did. Miles 16-18 were pretty horrific. For those not familiar with the wall, it goes something like this…
For the first 6 miles you almost don’t even notice you are running, you are having so much fun. The second 6 miles you settle into a nice running pace and everything feels good. You get to half way and gulp a little. Then 14-15 miles are busy again, with lots of people offering sweets and oranges, and there’s music. And then things start twinging and your stomach hurts, and your head hurts. And its hot. Did I mention it was hot? And then – suddenly – you realise that you’ve signed up to run the London Marathon, and you are running it right now and that it is incredibly, incredibly hard. It is the hardest thing you’ve ever done. Marathons are famously hard. It is what they are famous for. And you are doing one. Right now. You are stupid. Have you gone too fast? Or too slow? And there are people who have stopped. There are people who are walking, or being treated for injuries. What the hell is wrong with your knee? You know that you have to run for another hour and a half. You know you can’t stop. It is hot. You’d dearly like to stop. All you want to do is stop. Oh my god, the other knee now? What the hell is going wrong? And people are shouting. And it is hot. And for some reason you can never really explain, you carry on.
That seems like a sensible note on which to finish.
London Marathon vital statistics and other numbers
Run: 26.2 miles (though with weaving, I reckon we did 27 at least) in 3hrs50m
Finishing Place: 8579
Number of people
I beat finished after me: 25,591
Number of people I passed in the last 7k: 478
Number of people who passed me in the last 7k: 207
Money raised so far: £2,170 (£2,628 with Gift Aid)
Toenails lost in training: 2
People who have liked this blog: 106
Calories burned since January: 50,952
Hours spent running since January: 55
Beers consumed between lent and Marathon: 0
Free beers given by generous London pubs yesterday: 2
People I couldn’t have done all this without: 1 – my partner, Jassa. Thank you!