At last, I’ve done it. Several months of preparation, over a month of abstinence from alcohol, Italy’s annual output of pasta consumed in 1 week and enough Lucozade to keep GSK’s share price buoyant and now it’s all over.
What an experience that was. Having never run full marathon distance, even in training, there was the natural anticipation and nerves on the day but my alarm woke me up, the trains ran to time and all the build up went like clockwork. I met some fellow runners on the train down and this was great for the pre-race nerves and as we all parted ways to get ready for the start everything was going smoothly.
Starting from Greenwich, I was over the start line in about 3 minutes and the crush wasn’t too bad. The crowds by the road were amazing and definitely helped push me along. I was delighted to be pacing myself at 9 minutes/mile throughout the first half and as I crossed Tower Bridge, I felt amazing and was relatively trouble free.
Turning right towards the docklands I could see the last of the elite runners coming back into London and I was still on pace – so far, so good.. then came the Docklands and it started to get really tough. Funniest T-shirt of the day; “If I collapse, someone pause my Garmin”, helped me through miles 15/16 but as I wound my way round Canary Wharf, the smell of a bbq exacerbated the slight nausea that I was starting to feel and by mile 18 I had discovered that the wall was rearing it’s ugly head a few miles earlier than I’d hoped.
Trying to put one foot in front of the other was proving trickier and trickier and from this point on, I just had to slow to a walk/shuffle to regain some strength and at this point, getting round started to become a target, rather than focussing on my planned 4 hours.
However, the encouragement from the crowd (and a magical piece of orange – thank you) got me going again and apart from a few blips in the remaining, agonizing miles, I was able to generally keep a (kind of) running pace up. Once I reached the embankment, the crowd cheering me on helped me keep going and when I saw 800m to go, it actually came as a surprise. I even managed a (sort of) last dash to the finish to try to hit my (ahem, revised) target of 4hrs 15 and finished 12 seconds over.
I can honestly say that I’ve never felt so exhausted in my life as I did yesterday afternoon but 24 hours on, my original thoughts of “never again” are being replaced by, “I wonder if I’d gone a bit slower in the first half if I could’ve had enough beans left to beat 4 hours”… something to ponder over a long awaited glass of wine…
What an amazing experience and thank to the generosity of my sponsors, I’ve managed to exceed my fund raising target for Asthma UK and I am extremely grateful to every one of them for helping me raise so much for this hugely important charity.
So, would I recommend taking part in the London Marathon?… absolutely 100% yes!