For anyone who has followed my journey will know that I’ve spent the last six months or so training for the London Marathon.
It’s been a slog, but this was to be my second marathon and I knew the hard work would be worth it.
My husband would normally be my cheerleader for these events. Unfortunately (for me) he was commandeered by one of his closest friends for a stag do and so I dragged my one woman cheering squad, Keeley, with me for the weekend.
The first task in hand, aside from getting up very early on the Saturday to travel down, was to hit the Expo and collect my number.
The Expo is HUGE. I don’t know what I was expecting, but just to give you an idea, the image below (thanks to Virgin Money London Marathon) just shows some of the number collection stands.
It’s vast. And crowded. My hands full of samples and leaflets, fuel for the next day, we left, exhausted and headed back to the hotel to refuel, plan and more importantly sleep.
Oddly, I was still completely calm. Normally pterodactyls have invaded my tummy, let alone butterflies and I’m in a semi permanent state of panic. But even after setting out my stuff for the next day, and replying to the bloody lovely tweets and messages on my phone, I was still out like a light when my head hit the pillow.
And so to run day. It was here.
To give you all an idea of what a Marathon day is like, here was mine.
7:00am Get up. Breakfast of bread and peanut butter, huge glass of water. Watch dreadful children’s TV in an attempt to distract myself, whilst replying to good luck tweets/texts/Facebook messages.
Also receive cryptic message from husband, which causes much consternation.
7:30am to 8:45am Due to overeager hydration go to the loo. A lot.
8:45am Walk to train station with Keeley who has been worrying (flapping) about us getting there on time. As I’m still not quite zoned in yet, I’m not worried and spend most of the journey reassuring her, even through us getting on the wrong train.
9:30am Get off at the right station and walk with the hordes of people to the race start. What I love about running is the variety of people. Young, old, tall, short, fat, thin, it doesn’t matter. You’re all there to put one foot in front of the other and run your run.
9:40am Give hugs to Keeley and walk into the start. It’s vast. And I need the loo. Again.
9:40am to 9:50am Queue for the loo and chat to a lovely lady from Edinburgh. Worry when four ladies walking past us exclaim about the loos being ‘an experience’
9:50am Experience the ladies urinals. These are men’s urinals with the use of a disposable She Wee device. Given the height of the urinals and some of us being, er, vertically challenged, there were lots of ladies squatting in corners. When you’ve got to go….
9:55am Make way to pen 9 – the slow pen for those of us just planning to get around. Chat to lady on crutches who fractured her foot in Manchester and is still planning on getting around London. That lady has balls.
10:00am Race start. Though not for us in pen 9 yet. We slowly shuffle to the start.
10:19am Now race start for us.
<Mile 1 Run with Elvis for a bit, and Charlie Chaplin. And Batman and Robin. Get cross as chap in Scooby Doo costume dashes past, but remember that everyone goes too fast at the beginning. Spot St John’s ambulance and grab some sun block. This is going to get hot.
Hear a familiar voice and turn…. Dave, the lovely chap who ran the hell that was Preston Marathon with me in 2012! Marathon 2 together then. Settle into run/walk – 5 minutes on, 1 minute off. We’re going at around a 7:30 minute kilometre pace.
Mile 3 Stumble as someone’s foot appears under mine. Feel a snap in my foot. It’s not too bad. Keep running.
Merge with the other two starts – red and green. It’s been crowded the whole way, but now it’s worse. Still feels like the start of Manchester 10km.
Mile 5 Get very cross with Jane – a lady who seems to run with her elbows. Use the anger.
Mile 10 Bathroom stop. Overhydrated despite the heat, and force ourselves to stop. Queue for 20 minutes. Watch a Womble, Bagpuss and the second Batman and Robin of the day go past. Know you’ve probably lost your PB by stopping to pee, but better this than running slower and in discomfort later.
Mile 12 Nearly half way. Ask yourself why you’re doing this for the hundredth time.
Then Tower Bridge. The noise, the view, the cheers. You remember why you’re doing this.
Because you can.
Mile 13 Half way. You pass those at mile 22 returning from the Isle of Dogs. You envy them. Briefly cheating passes through your mind as a fleeting thought, but you can do this.
Mile 15 Bra is now chafing despite vaseline applied earlier. This is going to hurt later.
Mile 17 Get cross as random lady with beer in hand runs with the runners patting bottoms. Know that if she comes near you, you are going to savage her. If you can find the energy. Which you probably can’t. Use the anger.
Mile 19 God.
Mile 20 Urgh.
Mile 21 Every 1 minute break is both heaven and hell. Heaven to stop. Hell when it starts again. Nausea kicks in.
Mile 22 Just keep going. Passed so many who are walking. Crying.
Mile 23 Silence. My back is now just a ball of pain. Shoulders take on the struggle.
Mile 24 Mumbles between Dave and myself as we check each other is ok.
Mile 25 Fight back tears. NEARLY. The crowd by now is INCREDIBLE. It’s the noise is pulling you through. The cheers, your name being called. It’s keeping you putting one foot in front of the other. The man singing karaoke on the way round goes past again. I’m not sure how he’s done that, but there’s not enough brain power to figure it out. Laugh as he sings to the crowd.
Mile 26 Can’t. Need water. Feel sick. Fuck it.
It’s done. Can’t compute.
Hug Dave. Chap next to us exclaims ‘Never again’. But he’ll be back.
Timing chip is snipped off, medal placed over my head. Wow, it’s heavy.
Walk the long walk to the meeting place. Can’t drink, or eat. Feel too sick. Just plod. Contemplate St John’s for my foot. Shrug and wend my way through the crowds.
Spot Keeley. Try not to cry with relief.
Hug. Feel sunburn. Ouch. But I’m ok. I’ve done it.
And now, a day or so later, I’m sore, battered, bruised but I’m so glad I did it. So very glad. Every wince when I go down stairs, every time my muscles stiffen up, it was still worth it.
So. Manchester 2015 then?
With massive thanks to Keeley for her support, her shoulder and her photographs.
And to everyone who has sponsored me. You’re all bloody wonderful.