It’s been three days now since I took on The London Marathon and I think I’m finally ready to write down my thoughts. Had I done this any sooner it may all have come across a bit negative, and if I leave it any longer I might romanticise it all a bit too much. I need to write this while I still remember how much it hurt!
The beginning of the day went mostly to plan, with the exception of my baby, who nearly always wakes for a feed at 5.30am who did not, in fact, wake up this morning meaning I had to try and rush a breast pump in just before I was due to leave, but that aside, thanks to my PT Adam, who picked me up, got me on the right trains and delivered me to the blue start with no fuss and plenty of time to spare it was a fairly stress free start.
I said goodbye to Adam, and went into the blue athletes holding area, stripped off my joggers and used the bag drop then managed to find my friends Dom and Kev with relative ease considering the number of people and questionable phone signal
We hung around trying to keep warm, used the loos and soaked up the atmosphere, a heady mix of nerves and excitement, until it was time to head to the start pens. Dom and I wished Kev good luck as he was starting in zone 3 ahead of us in zone 4, and joined the people waiting in our zone. As we waited for our turn we could see the big screen and we watched as Andy Murray pressed the buzzer and the elite men took off from the start line, knowing that before too long we would be crossing that same line.
we slowly moved forwards until eventually the start line loomed into view, we edged round the corner then people started to jog, and then there we were, about 20mins after the elite start, crossing that line, starting our watches and getting ready to run the 26.2 miles to the finish on The Mall. It all started well, keeping half an eye on the pace we had to keep slowing down to stick to our plan and not get carried away and it all felt nice and controlled.
The first part of the marathon is fairly unremarkable, mostly through suburban streets, until around mile three where you merge with the red start, the crowds started picking up around the 5 mile mark, the noise so loud in places it drowned out the music from my headphones completely. Going round the Cutty Sark between miles 6 and 7 is the first real “iconic” part, and the streets are jam packed with spectators. my knee was aching a little and this was worrying so early on but so far we were sticking to our pace plan. After this it just feels like more pounding the streets and it occurred to me I wasn’t exactly loving it! Saw some of the ASPT guys who had come up to watch and that was a bit of a boost, but I was really worrying about my knees now!
Dom and I were still togetherans still pacing ok as we were getting closer to half way. You see The Shard loom ahead then turn a corner and there in front of yo is tower bridge. This for me was one of the highlights of the day. The crowds under the bridge are so loud, as you hit the 20km timing mat and its pretty special. This is the bit you see on TV and now you are here running it! Then its back the way you came just on the other side of the river and towards Canary Wharf.
Its at this point where you see all the faster runners coming back down the other side of the road passing the 22 mile maker as you are just at mile 13! The second half of this race was where I really started to struggle. Both knees have been hurting for a while but now my feet, hips, IT bands and glutes all join in one by one until both legs hurt from hip to toe and each step is becoming more and more difficult. At around mile 17 Dom looked back at me with concern on his face and told me I looked like I was in agony. He insisted we take a walking break to help my legs recover a bit. The miles left to go were in single figures now, but 9 miles is still a long way to go!
As I limped on with Doms help, sometimes running slowly, other times walking, I was getting more frustrated as my energy levels felt fine, my legs just weren’t cooperating. I would have loved to just zone out to my music but my stupid Spotify had decided to stop and wouldn’t load, despite the playlist being downloaded to my phone so it wasn’t streaming, and after trying to get it working twice I gave up and turned it off, all it was doing was sapping my phone battery, so I had no tunes to take my mind off the increasing pain in my legs. I told Dom he could go on if he wanted but he stuck with me.
Now running in some kind of personal hell, it was with absolute glee that I turned the corner to see my friend Young Henry, The Relentless MC, standing with his mic at the side of the road, I ran over and got the biggest hug as he announced to the spectators my name and told them I was a badass, and the crowd went nuts cheering and it was the biggest moral boost and very much needed at that moment. I carried on!
Now its all very well saying a marathon is 26.2 miles, but that is only if you stick to the racing line (painted on the road in blue) but in reality, in the masses this is all but impossible, you can’t even see it all the time, and my watch was getting more and more out of line with the distance markers. It was about 0.3miles out at mile 3 but as I crossed the 22 mile marker my watch had already beeped off 23 miles, it was well out and this was so demoralising, how far was I actually going to have to run?
The second half of this race really was just a blur of pain, and the crowds now were now annoying me rather than giving me a boost, as we got to the tunnel before the embankment I finally lost Dom, he got ahead and I had to stop and walk as I thought I was going to be sick. I couldn’t take on any more gels or shot blocks, I just needed to get to the end now, but there were still a couple of miles to go and my watch was no use to me for judging the distance left. I saw the London eye round the corner in the distance and knew I had to pass it but it looked miles away. It actually came by sooner than I expected as I continued to stagger along the embankment, then the houses of parliament were ahead, and you turned the corner. The mile markers had stopped but as you head up the road you see the 1km left sign, then 800m, then 600m. You turn the corner, there is the palace, turn again under a bridge with 385 yards (what does that even mean?) and you’re on The Mall, and there it is, the finish is finally in sight. I tried to pick up the pace on my screaming legs, but started to feel distinctly wobbly, was I going to be one of those people who collapse?
No, I made it! I wanted to raise my arms up in triumph but I just didn’t have it in me, I managed a little “yes” fist at my side as I staggered over the line but barely even cracked a smile. I didn’t feel elated, I felt a bit like I had let myself down in the second half and everything hurt. The time on the clock was 5 hours some, and so I knew I’d managed sub 5 but not as fast as I’d wanted. My chip time was 4.44.37 but my watch told me I had run the marathon distance in 4.29.38 which strava tells me is a PR. My watch said I had run 27.5miles in total!
I staggered forward off the line, someone asked if I needed medical attention, I shook my head, and funnelled forwards to get my medal, snapped a quick selfie, someone grabbed me for an official photo and I continued to move slowly on-wards to the baggage trucks, got my goody bag and found my number section to reclaim my belongings. I just wanted to sit down. My legs hurt with every extra step, how do you get out of here? I kept moving, it felt like miles, up to the end following the signs to the meeting points. I was spat out at the top under the arches and asked a marshal where are the meeting points, they directed me down another road, it was so busy, runners, spectators and just general London traffic buffering me one way and another and I;m struggling to move in a straight line. I finally make it down to “E” where Adam and I were meeting and wondering why I had to walk so far after what I’d already put my body through. I made it there and collapsed against a statue texting Adam where I was. Some ladies there helped me get into my jumper and joggers and I waited to be found.
Once Adam had found me we headed back up the road to Charring Cross station and again Adam took charge of getting me home in one piece. It was finally all over!
I finished saying I hated every step and I was never ever doing a marathon again, and three days later, with my legs still hurting (although less than the last two days) I can look back and see that I didn’t hate all of it, but It was one tough ride and needless to say I’ve not entered the ballot for a place next year!
I have achieved something many others never get the opportunity to and I’m grateful for that, and I managed to raise over £600 for the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity in the process and eventually I’m sure this will all feel like a very positive experience (you can still sponsor me here)
Now people often equate running a marathon to giving birth so being that I have done both of these things in the past 12 months here is my take on that sentiment based on my own experiences:
|Preparation||6 month||9 months|
|End Result||A medal that doesn’t require any looking after||A tiny baby that is utterly dependant on you|
|Recovery||A week or so, I don’t know yet||At least 6 weeks|
|Pain Level||7 out of 10||10 out of 10|
|Would I do it Again?||Hell No||Hell No|
|Do I really mean that?||Probably||Probably|
And with that, I think my marathon blog is done and concludes my marathon journey and the only question now is… what should I do next?