Yesterday I completed my second marathon on the streets of our capital. With very little consistent training in the bank I really had no idea what to expect. What I did know was that I needed to be realistic about how I would perform. It meant that I would probably be no where near my 3.39 PB from Edinburgh and was more likely to be near the 4-4.30 mark. That is why this is not any kind of ‘race report’ but a reflection on my experience of the London Marathon.
I think I stood on the start line a little dumbstruck. I have never taken part in a race on this scale so the sheer volume of people was just unbelievable to me. That this many people actually wanted to run 26.2 miles just amazed me and every one of them looked excited. And I *know* I was excited too but I was trying not to put too much pressure on myself. I was trying to remember to keep things conservative in the first half and see if I could build on that. All good intentions but I think I got a bit carried away. My Nike GPS had just decided it would start working again and to see 8.23 average pace on my watch got me all a bit excited because that was the pace at which I achieved my time in Edinburgh. Could I maintain it after only 10 weeks haphazard training? Well the short answer is NO.
I really don’t know what I was thinking trying to do something like that after being injured for such a long time. Maybe it’s because I know I am capable of a decent pace that ego and excitement got the better of me. So starting off way too fast was the first thing. And then it went all a bit to shit.
At mile 5 I twisted my ankle. Not just a little stumble and righting myself again. No a proper, foot all the way underneath me. All the expletives under the sun came out of my mouth and I pronounced that the other runners around me were utter c***s. Why? Because the thing that had caused me to twist my ankle was a discarded Buxton water bottle. It turns out that other runners are at times quite selfish and even though you are advised to try and toss your bottle to the side, a lot of runners will just drop them for the runner behind to step on. So whoever dropped the bottle I tripped on? You Sir/Madam are a bit of a knob.
After that I hobbled for the next mile until adrenaline kicked in. At 10k I felt a bit heavy legged. At 10 miles I felt dreadful and then for the next 9 miles I considered calling it a day. When I put my foot in a hole in the road and wrenched my right hip I really did think I would be hanging my trainers up. My hip spasmed and every incline, decline and bump in the road became painful. I became conscious that I was no longer hot but shivering and my heart felt like it was much louder than it should have been. I decided that as I had come thing far I just had to keep going but I was also worried that I would become one of the many people I had seen on the side of the road, legs above heads and barely conscious. I became a little bit afraid and that has never been anything I’ve felt before while running. And the fact I was afraid made me even more afraid!
At mile 20 I decided all I had to do was count down the miles and tick them off. All aims of going just under 4 were off and the main aim was to finish as per my original goals. Going past Big Ben as it chimed 2pm was surreal. Watching the river skyline helped from mile 23 to 24. Telling myself over and over that I would soon be with my husband for a cuddle made me feel happier inside. And then I turned the corner into the Mall and for the first time in a torturous 26 miles I finally believed I was about to finish.
So that was how my London Marathon went. It wasn’t my most favourite race. I prefer Edinburgh for so many other reasons, not just the fact I got an amazing time there. London was crowded and it was loud. At times I felt the cheering of the crowds a little intimidating and I just wanted everyone to give me some quiet time.
What I am most proud of is that I didn’t stop once. Even though for nearly all 26 miles I was having an internal battle I never once stopped dead. So mentally I am much tougher than I thought and really pretty dead chuffed that for this marathon, even though it is no where near my best, I achieved my realistic goals. Realistic is the key here because even though I have given myself a little bit of a hard time on my performance I quite simply didn’t have the training volume to back up what I am capable of. I think the marathon and I definitely have unfinished business.
Favourite Costume: Sonic the Hedgehog
WTF? Moment: 2 people carrying vacuum cleaners over their heads while running.
Funniest thing I heard a child say: ‘You do know we could save a life by handing out these jelly beans today?’
A time I laughed out loud: When I saw a poor chap walking who happened to be wearing a t-shirt with a slogan about action for lungs. I chuckled at the irony, sorry.
My favourite t-shirt: A man was wearing a Blerch t-shirt as featured on the Oatmeal blog.
Favourite band of the marathon: All the Scottish pipe bands.
Least favourite moment: Tower Bridge, it all seemed to go a bit wonky for me from that point on.
Favourite moment: Cheering on the unbelievable Richard Whitehead as he headed on from mile 22 as I was running to mile 14.
Celebs I passed: Tony from Hollyoaks. For a while I wondered why people were shouting ‘Hollyoaks’ and then the penny dropped.
Celebs that passed me: Katherine Grainger, but she can have this one, she is Olympic champion.
Daftest sweet to give to runners who are sweating: Malteasers. When I realised what I had grabbed I was like ‘ewwww’ and then had to wipe my chocolately hand over my sweaty vest.
C*** of the race: Whoever dropped the bottle that I subsequently sprained my ankle on.
Today my left foot and ankle are throbbing and I am having difficulty walking on it. I think my efforts from yesterday require a couple of weeks off. Some rest and rehabilitation are more than needed. I know injury free there is better running in me. To be continued.