It’s a long one!!
Wow, what a long journey it was to get here today, 24 hours after completing the marathon I’m sat at my desk at work wearing my medal and feeling very happy with my achievement
It’s interesting what time does, really very little time infact. Yesterday I wasn’t so happy with my time…..
Way back when I finished my last marathon in Edinburgh 2009 it had been a really hot day, they’d run out of water at the far end of the course and most people had walked for a good few miles uncertain when we’d find water again…. Then my time was 4:40 and a bit, the year before it had been 4:50 something.
I decided then that on my next attempt I’d get my time under 4:30. So my time of 5:22:11 yesterday was really not what I was hoping for…..
But 24 hours has given me a sense of perspective and looking back over the last 6 months it’s not been the smoothest journey to get here, illness, injury, self doubt, snow and then a cold last week, I’ve realised that actually, all in all, without the help, support and encouragement of my friends I may never have made it to the start line and really I should be proud that I made it that far and even more so that with their help again I made it to the end.
So, marathon day! Everyone had warned me that I probably wouldn’t get much sleep – I slept right through until the alarm at 6:45am (mixture of cold and collecting my sister from the station and walking around on Saturday had tired me out!!!)
I downed a pint of water before my feet touched the ground and was first in the shower, dressed and making breakfast pretty much before my supporters (boyfriend and sister) were out of their beds.
Breakfast could only have been a magic pancake – it’s fueled my runs since training began! With that and more water I was ready apart from drying my hair – I managed to get my hair stuck in my hair brush which was a worrying moment – run with it or cut it out? Thankfully a slightly calmer bf fixed it for me!
We left the house slightly behind the published schedule but were within my secret schedule with extra time built in for the inevitable faffing…..
Made our way to London Bridge where we bumped into Mr Bump on the platform. My sister has never been to see a run of any sort before so when she was offered a chance to try the costume on I knew she’d enjoy the day!
We arrived at the blue start in Blackheath around 9am, I got thoroughly sprayed with suntan lotion (although it appears this morning – Monday – that a small bit was missed on my shoulder – ouch!), vaseline added in the necessary places and it was time for photos!!
I headed off to drop my bag off (including my sister’s overnight bag so she didn’t have to carry it – sneaky!) done in an instant, then to queue for the loo – I picked the wrong queue…… I didn’t leave it until 10minutes until the start…. a brisk walk for a final goodbye to sister and bf over the barrier and off to try and get into my pen – there was loads of space if only people had moved down – so I just pushed my way in! Glad I did as I spotted shazruns with her birthday cake hat on! It was lovely to meet her and also to have someone to share the time with before the start. One sad point is that we didn’t get a moments silence before the start, maybe we were too far back for us to hear the whistle to signify the start/end of it or maybe it was only at the red start? But looking around at all the black ribbons everyone was wearing Boston certainly wasn’t forgotten.
10am arrived and we all slowly moved forward until about 100m from the start when people started running – why I always wonder? Why add that extra distance?? But run we all did! Here I said goodbye to Sharon as she was planning on keeping with the 4:30 pace group – something I could only dream of!!
I have to say that the first several miles flew by – I didn’t notice us merging with either the green or the red starts – I’d heard from previous marathoners lots of booing went on here, but nothing! It wasn’t until the Cutty Sark between 6/7miles do I think I even really woke up to the fact I was running the marathon. The only thing I certainly remember is a young boy in the crowd shouting at everyone “come on, you can do it, believe in yourselves!” such wise words from such a young voice made everyone running chuckle and his words stuck with me the whole way round.
Greenwich was the first time I knew where I was, then we ran into places I’d never heard of, although Lavender Pond sounded pretty! Rotherhithe, mile 11, sounded familiar and I remember now that’s it’s where Brunel built the first tunnel under the Thames.
Then I knew by the milage that we should be approaching Bermondsey. This was the first point where I knew I’d be seeing my sister, boyfriend and his mum and dad – go out of the tube and turn left were their instructions…… well, by mile 12 I knew I’d missed them, but was very cheered by seeing 3 wonderful friends from BMF, I texted bf to say I’d missed them so they didn’t keep waiting, but apparently they’d spotted my back – they were right outside the station – I wasn’t even looking for them then……
The day was full of “well, I never realised that” moments and just outside Bermondsey I had my first one – there was Tower Bridge! No offence, but all worries and missing bf were gone – it was Tower Bridge!!! I took my only photo on here – couldn’t resist
Next high point came just after mile 13 – Nikki and our friend Bethany were waiting for me by either the RNLI or the RNIB cheering spot – they both ran for the charity 2 years ago – which it was I can never remember! I spotted the RNIB first so started looking out and what a good job I did, I was stood right infront of them and it wasn’t until I screamed at Nikki did she see me……
But all was obviously forgiven as it was so lovely to see them
Then it was over the half marathon point and beyond!
My original plan for the marathon – when I say original I don’t mean the ‘run it in 4:30’ plan but the new ‘the marathon will be ok even though you’ve been unwell plan’ – was to run a half marathon and assess the situation – thankfully the assessment was a good one and the running continued!
By mile 14 it was apparent that I had not applied enough vaseline….. trying to spot someone holding some out when you need it is impossible, but they’re everywhere when you don’t! Thankfully running down a lovely street called Narrow Street I spotted some – it was being held out by some lovely people at the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation – I could have kissed them, instead I gave a bemused old man a treat when he spotted me with my hand up my top rubbing it into where my bra had rubbed!
I can’t remember if it was before or after this that I saw my friend Helen – she was in an amazing viewing spot and was the recipient of a massive scream and a hug!
By mile 17 I was hitting the wall…… or I’m assuming that’s what it was, I had to walk, I wish I hadn’t as walking is always the beginning of the end, but it was no good…. my calves started to cramp up and I texted my boyfriend requesting salt and asking where at Canary Wharf was he – he duely responded and with renewed hope I continued.
Now, I’ve not mentioned Chi running for the last 1365 words, but from mile 17 I believe that it is that that got me through. I focussed on my posture making sure I was aligned, upright, tall, relaxing everything that I could to save my energy and what helped more than anything was maintaining my cadence at 85-90 strides per minute – basically keeping those feet moving, slowing my cadence makes it hard to run where as trying to keep your steps light and quick helps to keep the momentum going. At some point, I have no idea where I heard the familiar sound of a metronome – people use them to check their cadance – I spotted the guy and he said he was trying to keep up with it!
Somewhere after mile 18 I spotted bf dad and then all of them – was so relieved to see them all, bf thrust some dioralyte at me, I managed a few mouthfuls (why does it taste so horrible?!) but then knew I had to carry on……
Next friend meet was mile 22, only 4 miles away……. got to mile 19, so close to 20! kept on going and for some reason then had in my mind that I’d passed mile 20 so was gutted to see the 20mile marker looming in the distance…. but happily passed mile 20 – a mere 6 miles to go, but at my pace that’s at least 66minutes and to be honest with the run/walk it was longer than that
It was time to take control of the run/walk situation, get a rhythm to it to make sure I ran and didn’t just walk! So, the plan – iPod, run 1 song, walk 1 song….. and off we went. I always start a run with the same song on my play list and have done ever since my first 5km race (Sutton Park for streetly road runner (?)) it’s Easy by the Barenaked Ladies, but somehow I’d started my shuffle on shuffle and once I was over the shock of not hearing Ed’s voice I realised it was my karake song – Don’t Stop Me Now by McFly (I know the original is by Queen, but I love McFly – and it was the theme to the first ever Sport Relief) so this was definitely a ‘run’ song!
Somewhere along the way I’d got blisters on my little toes, somewhere between mile 20 and 22 the right one burst, I felt it pop as I put my foot down – horrible…..
I was expecting to see Nikki again by mile 22 as I reached mile 22 it was apparent I was wrong…. they had crossed the road from their original viewing point to the other RNIB (not RNLI they pointed out, RNIB as they both wear glasses!!!!) finally I spotted the RNIB flags and my lovely friends joined by Nikki’s mum (we walked a marathon together last year) – amazing! Hugs and kisses, I told Nikki about my blister, tried to persuade her to finish the race for me, but she said I had to do it…… and then pointed out quite how salty I was!
Carried off on a run (seems only polite to at least be making the effort for my friends!!)
Just came out from under Blackfriars bridge at mile 24 when I heard mad screaming from above – it could only have been my BMF buddies again – their numbers had swelled so no wonder they were loud!
Seeing them was such a boost, the crowd really helped carry me from here on in
Mile 25 was the final bf/sister spot and I challenged them to a race to the end!
Looking at a map I’ve just realised that I didn’t even spot the London Eye across the river! But I certainly saw Big Ben and it looked great in the sunshine
Round the corner it was a surprisingly brief time to Buckingham Palace, I wished the Queen a happy birthday and took a right to spot the finish really quite close, I think it would have been a struggle if it had been too far down the Mall!! But whatever my head was thinking my legs/feet were not in agreement – it wasn’t that close, infact if I looked at the signs it was over 300m to go….. that’s a long way they told me, but they agreed to keep going, there are 3 finish tunnels, I aimed for the middle one and was over the line! I stopped my watch and a man to my right asked if we could stop now – I was fairly certain we could…..
Had a lovely chat with the man who took my timing chip off, apparently he’d been waiting for me!
Then it was down the ramp to a lovely lady who put my medal on for me and off to pick up my finishers goodie bag
I did not have the energy to veer of to get a finishers photo and continued on to find my baggage…. it was a long walk, a really long walk, then I realised we’d not been as sneaky as I’d thought earlier…. well, my sister had been, but now I had to carry my stuff and hers all the way out to meet them – did I mention it was a long way??
Thankfully they’d all beaten me to the finish, so all I had to do was sit down – it’s all I wanted to do! There was a pink lady apple in my goodie bag, I ate that along with the crisps they’d brought for me and I was a happy girl
It was slightly awkward with everyone stood up while I was on the floor, but I stayed down to take my shoes off, check the blister situation – yes, they were there!! Put some flip flops on and decided to stand for hugs, kisses and photos!
We all had a chat, but then it was time to point me in the direction of home… easier said than done, I was having issues with walking…. tried bare feet, that was nice, but then the ground got painful, so put my trainers back on with clean socks – much better!!!
Loved the tube ride home, people saying congratulations and smiling. But my favorite was walking past a guy who was on his phone back in Finsbury Park but still stopping to give me a massive smile and a double thumbs up!
I had a quick shower, popped out to see my friends Jo and Gary for a beverage or 2 and then it was home time – the sofa beckoned
It was an amazing day – 24 hours has dulled the pain and highlighted the amazing support I felt from everyone – those I know and that of complete strangers