The 2018 London Marathon!
|My Mum's handmade sign!|
We headed to the start and said our goodbyes. I was in the championship start so wasn't starting with any of my crew. Feeling a bit lonely, I wandered into the huge blue area. It took me a little while to actually find the start pen...I'm used to following the guys so felt a bit strange to be organising myself.
Walking into the pen, I instantly felt like a celebrity! Someone signed me in and pointed me to the direction of the toilets ...no queue at all and still loads of toilet paper! Bliss! I wandered around aimlessly for a bit before realising that there were tents to chill in. I walked into the first tent before getting told off - apparently I'd just wandered into the mens changing tent...oops!
After -rather sheepishly- beeing directed to the ladies tent, I quickly spotted a Chepstow runner I recognised and went to sit with her. Quickly, we were joined by girls from other local clubs- a south west crew was formed! We spent the 30mins of waiting time chatting about the heat, plans for the race and comparing injuries. Next up, dropping off our bags- again no queue. Ideal.
I then spotted a few other people I knew- local celebrity and super speedy runner Kojo; Spedo-wearing Joe; and the Bristol and West crew. I also spotted Steve Way and the 'spirit of Londonl' pair from Chorlton and Swansea but was too scared to say hi.
Another perk of the Champions start is that we had our own warm up area. Being rather warm already, I didn't really feel a great desire to warm up but didn't want to waste the opportunity so did a 0.2 mile warm up! We were then directed to the start where we heard the national anthem before hearing the gun sound and starting the race. My London Marathon journey had begun!
A similar story to KD - Dr Dave and myself went into the Fast Good for Age to find plentiful toilet facilities and an efficient drop off bag area. We met up with club mates Dan, Sam and Rob (who all went on to run stellar times, especially considering the heat.) After 15 mins or so of faffing and chatting, me made our way to the start pen, where I bumped into a couple of Weston Prom rivals, Ian and Ben (who both also ran amazing times.) Lots of nervous chatting and shuffling and we were finally off - on a mission!
After such an amazing race at Abingdon where my legs felt amazing until mile 21, I knew the feeling I was hoping for...
Unfortunately, pretty quickly I could feel that today probably wouldn't be my day...however that's not very positive so I put it out of my mind and focused on talking to myself about how great I felt (trying to convince myself!)
In fairness, I did feel pretty good for the first 3 miles. Just not 'Abingdon' good. I was easily running my target pace and (due to the downhill nature of the first 3 miles) having to tell myself to slow down!
At mile 3, I saw that the red start were starting to merge with us. I moved over to the left and kept an eye out in case I could spot any one I knew. My heart skipped a beat when I spotted John! I thought he'd be way ahead by now. I picked up my pace a bit and shouted 'John' he heard and turned his head but, at this point, we still had a barrier between us. I kept up with him for a bit before shouting at him to go on ahead and reminding him that I love him.
The next 3 miles went by pretty straightforwardly but I was definitely feeling a lack of spring and bounce in my legs. I was managing the heat pretty well at this point by taking water ever mile, having a sip and then pouring the rest over my head.
Mile 6 past the Cutty Sark was incredible. I remembered to look up and enjoy the amazing views - we were really close to the boat!
Mile 7 is where I started to slow down. Everything was just feeling heavy and tired and I was getting hotter. This was also the first point that I noticed my foot hurting. Knowing that I'd see my family at mile 8, I focused on that and tried to push on.
Just before mile 8 I made the decision to change my target. I knew that sub 3 was not going to happen today. I wanted to enjoy my first London so I decided that a time was no longer important to me. I wanted to get the FULL London experience. I was however, worried about everyone tracking me- that they'd see my speed slow and worry that I was struggling. I guess technically I was struggling but I'd made the choice to slow down.
I managed to spot my family pretty quickly due to my mum holding her fantastic banner. Mum, Dad, Nat, Amy and Josh were all cheering at the top of my voice. I was beaming. Delighted to see them but desperate to know I was ok. I shouted that I was slowing down but having fun.
The crowds everywhere were incredible. The noise was amazing. Everyone was so supportive. I decided not to look at my watch, but try and get into a rhythm that felt comfortable and that I felt I could continue for the next 16miles. I settled into around 7:40 pace and put some of my effort into dancing to the music, high fiving and generally enjoying the crowd.
Miles 10- 16 were hard. Mentally, I was just pushing to get through each mile. Living for the beep on my watch! I repeatedly had to remind myself to look up and take everything in. I especially enjoyed mile 15...the tunnel! It was shady, dark and cold so cold. Some people started walking here...I guess to make this amazing tunnel last longer!
Mile 13 and Tower Bridge was phenomenal! I turned, what I thought was a normal corner, and BAM! right there in front of me was Tower Bridge. It's huge and the sound was unreal...honestly...I did tear up a little!
At this point I'd had a slightly different ride to KD. The first three miles felt like three metres - whizzing and feeling super easy whilst making sure to run at a steady pace. One thing I was cautious of though was the fact that the day was so similar to Boston... I decided early on, that even though I felt very fresh and strong, there was no need to try and run my A goal of Sub2:53 today - back off and cruise (nob) at Sub3 pace... Enjoy the day! This decision was made even easier, when at the point where our start, KD's start and the Maestro's start merged... I made sure to run in the centre of the road, slightly higher than everyone else to make sure I was easy to spot and make it easier for me to spot, the Maestro - no such luck and we never saw eachother until the end... could I run a marathon without the support of my mentor?!?
Going back to how the decision was made easier... As KD mentioned, we saw eachother and I was keen for us to run together... but took the hint when I was told to crack on, I knew from then that she wasn't going for Sub3... the parting scream of I love you also helped to activate the boosters and I found myself cruising at goo pace which meant I bumped into Dan! Dan is a fellow club mate and P&D - Advanced Marathoning aficionado.. (With a Sub2:59 PB!) we would go on to run together for another 5+ miles until he sensibly decided to back off - it was lush - he was running spot on Sub3 pace and having some company who I knew was awesome. Cheers Dude :-)
One huge highlight of the race, was when the road was split so I could see people coming the other way. I saw the lead car...brilliant! I thought, I might get to see some of the elites! I moved over to the left hand side and sure enough, I saw Kipchoge speed past - making it all look very easy! He was closely followed by a runner I didn't recognise and then...a few seconds behind, Mo Farah! AWESOME! I joined the crowd cheering and clapping him.
The next few miles I spent trying to take my mind off how hot and thirsty I was, by searching the crowd for my support crew. I spotted them at mile 17ish and it was a huge boost to hear their cheers.
From mile 16, I started to feel better. This is my favourite part of the race because I can start to count down in single figures to the end!
I was coming into central London now and was really enjoying seeing famous buildings. The walkie talkie, the shard, the Millennium Dome, Jamie's where me and Amy ate dinner a while ago! Really enjoying myself now, I was genuinely enjoying the race and feeling pretty pumped.
This is where things got tough... running across Tower Bridge at half way was AMAZING! Such a beautiful bridge which made the hairs on the back of the neck stand up, another boost. Running solo by now/without anyone I actually knew, the race was getting tough. 15 miles ticked over and I wasn't struggling with the heat so much as I'd been dousing myself with water every mile and I'd reduced my pace from the start - what was tough was the running. My running pace was gradually getting slower and slower and the running was tough! It was at mile 18 that's I'd had enough of this painful experience and demotivating pace and I started to run-walk... Alternating every 200mtrs or so, I was determined to finish the race whilst enjoying the occasion and atmosphere.
Reaching mile 20 felt amazing. Only 6 miles - I knew I'd finish. I was having an amazing time. It was super hot though. I was drinking every mile and throwing cast quantities of water over my head!
Reaching mile 20 was pants... I was knackered and didn't like the though of walking the majority of the way to the finish...
Just before mile 24, I spotted my family again but this time with a new supporter- it was John! He'd stopped. I didn't know how long he'd been there or how he was feeling. All I knew, at that moment, was that I was going to drag him across the finish line! There was no way I was letting Boston happen again with him DNFing. I grabbed his hand and pulled him off the pavement and back onto the course.
I had stopped, I was fine - in that I'd come to terms with not running to plan but was keen to finish the race regardless. I wanted to let KD's family know I was ok and thank them for their great support (with Nat) so far - also I asked where Kelly was in regards to me - metres away apparently...
After a huge hug and kiss, we were off. I asked him how he was and he explained that he wasn't good. He said he might have to run walk but I didn't care. Holding his hand, to a wave of applause, we ran off together- only just over 2 miles to go!
I was dyeing inside... I was happy to walk the rest of the way, I was gonna finish... but KD found the last drip of positivity in me (I'm quite dehydrated by now...) and we soildered on - at pace!
I focused all of my energy on motivating him and trying desperately to keep him going. I didn't care if we had to walk the whole way, John was finishing this marathon! I said every positive phrase I could think of. I pointed out every landmark we passed. We walked whenever John needed to but not for long. The crowd were incredible! Every time we started running again, the roar of the crowd was amazing. I realised pretty quickly, that with a few waves, I could get the crowd to cheer even louder. It was an incredible feeling to know that hundreds of people were cheering purely for us!
It felt like everyone was there for us. The crowd were suckers for the romance! Everytime I went from walking to being dragged along, hand-in-hand by KD the crowd gave an amazing roar... It may have looked lovely (and it was) but I was being dragged along by the most positive and most determined person I know.
The last mile was incredible. Knowing that we were nearly there and knowing that we would cross the line together felt quite overwhelming.
In the last few meters, we held hands and prepared to cross the line. Tears filled my eyes as we finished and embraced. It was such a special moment and one I'll never forget.
Agreed - a truly memorable moment, I will never ever forget running down the Mall together hand in hand - awesome! I would have cried... but I was VERY dehydrated... the joke of the afternoon has been that all I could cry is salt... I have had so many "hydration" tablet the last few days, I think I was probably finishing the race, 80% salt...
We crossed the line in 3 hours and 24 minutes. Not a bad time considering. But time was irrelevant for me today. There was no better feeling than crossing the finish line of the London marathon with my best friend and the man I love.
Agreed - who cares about times (we all do, intensely, but for the sake of the blog...) Our first London, finishing together... We must have run together 500+ times.... this was my favourite one - by miles!
|The Maestro truly loves to see me suffer...|
For anyone out there with an aspiration for running London - never give up. Always enter the ballot, always train for a good for age, take out a mortgage and run for a charity... One of THE best running experiences. I don't know 1% of London but as I ran past all the monuments, buildings, towers, bridges etc it felt like home.
Running on your own is great, it helps relieve stress and it's a great way of measuring self improvement but try to always make time for your friends and loved ones. Kelly was faced with a situation where she could have run on and banked herself a quicker time - at least 10 minutes - but for stopping and ragging me round and for sharing her moment, I will be eternally grateful.
We had a cracking weekend, congrats to all who finished - especially those in 5+ hours! I genuinely think it's just as hard to run for that long a period of time as it is to train for a Sub3 I did do it once, please don't forget... Special congrats to all the GWR runners out there. When I joined GWR, I never expected to make so many friends or especially a loved one - everyone has run amazing and improved leaps and bounds the last 12 months or so, long it may it continue.
Bye bye for now... we will no doubt be blogging again soon in the future.
John and Kelly