I always look forward to writing this post, and then sit down to re-live the day and find it so hard. There are just NO words to describe running the London Marathon. It’s the marathon of all marathons (how can I say that, when I have only ever run London???) but I know it’s the one all runners want to experience at least once and I think it’s amazing!
I was slightly nervous this year, as last year had been so bad, I felt this was make or break in terms of whether I liked marathons and if I would want to do more!??! I had written my bronze, silver and gold goals here, but in all of them I had put the most important thing, was to enjoy it. Last year, I was so negative and felt so bad for not enjoying it; There were thousands of people who would have loved to have swapped places with me.
This year, I was enjoying it regardless, and this started well, by having the most amazing time at the expo. I decided to stay over in London the night before and that in itself was a comedy of errors! I couldn’t find the hotel even though Siri was directing me, I ended up ordering a Uber taxi to be driven about 200m! My porridge exploded in the hotel microwave in the morning; I had planned the journey from the hotel numerous times before the day and the estimated time had always said 21 minutes, well that was until I checked it one final time on the morning of the marathon. It now read 51 minutes, cue panic stations! Yep, you guessed it, it took 21 minutes and I was there nice and early!
We had sorted to meet members of #TeamMND prior to the start for a team photo. Meeting meant that we could all support each other, offer last-minute advice and reassurance. It also meant I got to experience the start with people, which always makes it much more fun. I made my way to the red start with Rob, Chris and Alex; this was all new territory for me, as I have always been blue start in previous years.
The Red Start is HUGE. The organisation is, as always, spot on and the bag drop and toilet visit was really quick and easy. I was in pen 9, which felt like it was right at the back, so I did try to weave myself forward a little. I loved all the costumes, and took the opportunity to take some selfies!
It took 25 minutes to get to cross the start line, and then we were off. The first 3 miles was unfamiliar to me, and I was surprised how much quieter the route is compared to blue, and it was a bit hilly. I didn’t remember blue being hilly? I tried desperately to start slowly and be sensible, but I still went off a little too fast. It was quite difficult to pace, as it was busy and I seemed to be with a slower paced group, so I think I weaved a little and picked up the speed too much once I saw a gap!
At mile 3, when we joined with the green and blue start, I was surprised at how few people there was on the other side of the road. I then remembered the head start that they had had, I’m sure at the back of blue start still only took about 10 minutes to get over the start line.
Around 3 miles, I also realised that I was going too fast, so made more of a conscious effort to slow my pace. I started chatting to anyone and everyone around me. I was loving running this event again! I remember saying to another runners, I must look stupid, I just can’t stop smiling! I was running comfortably and looking forward to Cutty Sark.
The noise and route around Cutty Sark is unbelievable – the crowds are 4/5 people deep, and the name shouts and support is awesome. I didn’t think it was possible, but my smile grew even more!
After Cutty Sark, I looked forward to Tower Bridge, but was surprised to hear and see members of my running club through this section. I can’t quite describe the boost it gives you to see friends!
I spotted an MNDA runner and started to chat to her just before Tower Bridge, I had spoken to so many MNDA runners, but I knew that we were approaching Tower Bridge, so we stuck together and experienced it together. Tower Bridge, you are special!
As you exit Tower Bridge, you come to the section where the speedies are on the other side, about 10 miles ahead of you! I love watching them and shouting encouragement. I almost forget that I am running too!
My next focus was Mile 19, as I knew the Run Mummy Run support crew where there. I was starting to feel tired, by now, so loved the hug that I received from the group, they really boosted me to keep going.
Mile 21 is always special too. The MNDA cheer point is there, but before that Run Dem Crew support there too, so it is always very noisy and encouraging.
By mile 22, I was starting to slow. My legs were heavy and I thought about walking. At the expo, I had picked up a band that said ‘Tomorrow I will have no regrets’ and I kept repeating this to myself. I reasoned with myself that I could only walk through the tunnel just before mile 24 if I needed too. I picked up Lucozade just before the tunnel, so decided I needed to walk and take on some drink, I stretched a bit too, as my quads were sore.
As soon as I exited the tunnel, I started running again, well shuffling is probably a better description. I knew I was soon to be seeing my husband and daughter and I didn’t want them to see me walking! Trying to spot them in the crowd between 24 and 25 really took my mind off how much my legs wanted to stop. When I spotted them I felt the emotion come and the kiss from my daughter gave me the boost that I needed to get to the finish. When I turned at Big Ben, the 4:45 pacers edge ahead of me. I repeated ‘No regrets’, and with that I picked up the pace to ensure that I finished ahead of them. Another MNDA runner, Adam, was walking and we only had about 1KM to go, so I encouraged him and we ran the last section together. Every time I cross the finish line, I expect floods of tears, but they don’t come and this time was no different. I was just so relieved to have finished and even though it was tough, I had loved it.
As I walked towards baggage and tried to process what I had just done, I spotted John Major. I did a double take as no-one else around had really noticed and he waved! Rather bizarre!
I will certainly be putting my name in the ballot on the 2nd May! Anyone else?