On Sunday 24th April my alarm went off at 05:30… I awoke almost instantly, full of excitement and nerves on what has become my favorite day of the year… London Marathon day!
After a breakfast of porridge with berries and some honey and a big cup of coffee it was time to head to the station. Simon kindly gave me a lift and I arrived at Reading around 6:30 to meet with some fellow Reading Roadrunners who were traveling up together. I bumped into Ben as I was heading to get another coffee for the train, we then bumped into another one, Alex, before getting on the train. The other two, Carrie and Julie, met us at Miadenhead having got on an earlier train worrying that ours was going to be late!
The journey was fairly uneventful to Paddington, we were sat fairly near a loo so there were a few loo trips between the 5 of us to pass the time! We got to Paddington and headed to Edgware Road to get the tube, via a coffee shop (decaf for me this time!) and started to see more runners as we headed down to the tube.
We eventually got to Blackheath station around 9:15 and started the walk to our respective starts (Ben, Julie and I were in green, the others in red and blue), arriving in the green start at 9:30… In a bit of a panic when we saw the length of the loo queues!!!!
After dropping off bags, I joined the queue for the portaloos, longest queue I’ve ever seen… Julie and Ben went off to line up, I waited nervously as I have to go one last time before the start, even if I don’t need it! At 9:59 I got to the front of the queue and was in the portaloo when the fun went off… Aaaarrggghhh!
A quick sprint over to the start and I joined my pen, there was plenty of time and I didn’t even cross the start line for another 2 minutes!
That was it, we were off… London Marathon 2016!!! I have to say the rushed start meant I didn’t get quite as emotional as I normally do heading over the start line!
The first few miles passed by rather uneventfully, although I’d definitely forgotten how crowded the start is, 39,000+ runners all trying to fit into London’s roads is a big ask! As the miles went on we soon merged with the other two starts and I saw some familiar Reading Roadrunners faces, as well as other local club vests.
Around mile 6 or so you pass the Cutty Sark, this is an emotional moment as you turn right around a corner and suddenly there is this huge ship in front of you and thousands of people either side of the road shouting and cheering… The first of many amazing experiences!
Soon after this, around 7 miles, I ran past Kelly Holmes… Yup, the Kelly Holmes of double Olympic gold medal fame! That was pretty cool, mentally high 5’d myself!
At this point I knew I had a couple more miles before I’d get to see Simon, as he was going to be at mile 9, 11 and somewhere between 23 and 25 with his cousin Tom and their friend Luke. I felt really strong and ran past another girl I knew from a triathlon we did last year, we follow each other on strava now so it was nice to see her! She told me I was looking strong, and asked what time I had in mind… I said 3:10… The first time I’d actually vocalized it to someone other than Simon. All made it feel a bit real!
Anyway, I carried on, the miles went by and my legs felt good… I was loving it! I saw Simon and the boys at mile 9 and again at 11, then it was time to head towards Tower Bridge.
I know this is an emotional point in the marathon for most people, but I found it even more emotional this year… I don’t know why, there was no particular reason, just the sheer amount of people and the volume of noise as we ran over the bridge really choked me up. It was AMAZING.
The miles kept on coming and soon I was through halfway, I glanced at my watch… 1:30?!?! My third fastest half marathon time, in a marathon! Eek! As we continued down the Highway towards Isle of Dogs and the docklands I kept putting one foot in front of the other and just thinking how much I was enjoying myself!
Miles 14, 15 and 16 went past, and soon enough we were in Canary Wharf… The atmosphere is just brilliant here, exactly what you need after 18 miles of running. I even managed to see some of my friends from school and got a high 5 off my friend Becca!
On and on we went, back down the Highway, against the flow of slower runners who would be out there for a few more hours… Past the Tower of London, past a bunch of Reading Roadrunners marshals at about 23 miles before we went through the Lucozade tunnel…
Coming out the other side of the tunnel you have a slight incline as you run up onto the embankment. This is where the hard work started, my left quad had started to seize, and every step felt like someone was punching me right in the middle of it! Ouch!
As I rounded the corner to head down Birdcage Walk past Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament I spotted the boys and gave them a huge wave. Just 800m left.
One foot in front of the other in front of the other and on and on… 600m to go.
The last few hundred meters went by in a bit of a blur, the finish line was in sight and I started to feel a little bit emotional…
I crossed the line one hand raised to symbolize the London Marathon’s “one in a million” catchphrase for 2016. 3:08:14…
A new PB by 21 minutes, and more than I could have ever dreamt of!!!! I was a bit of an emotional wreck as I wandered dazed and shocked to pick up my medal and goodie bag before heading to get baggage and my phone to ring Simon, choked and emotional!
It was the most incredible experience, it felt amazing, tough but I felt strong and loved every step! I can’t wait to do it again next year, from the Championship start!