I woke up on Sunday 23rd April feeling tired, a bit groggy and wondering why on earth my alarm was going off at 05:00 on a Sunday morning… then I remembered- MARATHON DAY!!!!
I showered as usual and headed downstairs to try and force down some breakfast and a coffee. Porridge with berries and almond milk and a little bit of honey. It seemed to go down pretty easily. At 5:50 Simon and I left the house and drove to Sandhurst where I was getting the coach organized by a local running club. I usually get the train but this year due to engineering works the earliest trains weren’t until 9am… with the race starting at 10, that really wasn’t an option!
The coach was super easy, I found a seat with Vicki, Jo and John from our running club and we chatted the whole 2 hour journey to Greenwich. It was so chilled!
The chilled vibe continued once we had arrived, I headed into the blue start with John, as the girls had gone to a different start. We had a very relaxed hour or so, wandering round the start, visiting the portaloos and sat down on the grass to have a PB and jam sandwich before we parted and I went into the scary championship start area.
Thankfully I bumped into two girls from Reading Roadrunners, Nikki and my lovely friend Carrie as well as a very old friend Lucy, which helped settle some nerves! After getting changed into race kit (baring my flabby legs and belly to all the highly toned athletes in the changing tent was a task I don’t ever want to repeat- next year I’ll be thinner… 😂) I got chatting to Nikki about the race. Knowing that we’d done similar times last year (3:04 for her, 3:08 for me) I asked her what her plan was today. She’d only recently decided to run the marathon for various reasons so had planned to take it rather steady and just enjoy it. That was my plan too, so I suggested we run together which she was keen to do. I’ve never run a marathon with anyone before so this was going to be a new experience for me!
One last mad dash to the portaloos and then we lined up. I’ve honestly never felt so unprepared for a race in my life!!!!
At 10:00 the hooter sounded, being set off by Prince William, Kate and Prince Harry was pretty cool, as we crossed the start line a cheeky glance to the left and there they were! Awesome!
Anyway off we went, Nikki and I fighting our way through the crowds. It’s wierd at the championship start as you line up just behind the elite men, then the masses from the blue wave join right behind you and it’s a bit like a stampede! We’d said we would set out at 8:00/mile… obviously that didn’t happen!!! The first mile was a bit too quick at 7:28… on we went, putting one foot in front of another. The first few miles seem to be slightly downhill (7:25, 7:04, 7:14, 7:19…) and I knew we were going too fast but I also knew I would be struggling later as I always do so thought ‘lets bank some time now’… 🙈
We kept going, passing the Cutty Sark at around 6 miles, a sight which usually has me welling up with emotion but this year I didn’t really feel anything. Wierd. On we went until around 9 miles when I spotted Simon and our parents… cue crazy mad waving! Then about 50 m along on the other side of the road spotted our friends Dave and Becky… more waving!
Next landmark was Tower Bridge… this never disappoints and this time even in my unemotional state it got me. It’s so amazing, the noise, the colours, the sheer volume of people lining the streets to watch and cheer us crazy runners is unlike anything else! It’s over too soon though and you turn right past the Tower of London and head along towards the Isle of Dogs. This point is quite cool as it’s the out and back portion of the course so the elite runners were coming back past 22 miles to go in to finish… a slightly depressing thought haha! We past half way in 1:37:48… too quick!!!!
Around 15 miles I started to think oh god… I can’t do this… but kept telling myself it’s less than 10 miles to go you’ve done this so many times before, you can do it!! By the time we got to 17 miles I’d slowed down a lot, 15-17 was 7:35, 754, 7:57… and running round Canary Wharf (never my favorite part) I started to think ‘I really want this over now’… something I’ve never thought at London before. By 18 miles I would quite happily have packed it in. But I knew there wasn’t really that far left and the feeing of a DNF would have been so much worse than how I was feeling!
Out of Canary Wharf, and still with Nikki, so very thankful for her sticking with me despite my encouragement to push on and get a better time, we were well into the 8’s for our pace now. I had a 3:30 pace band on and kept checking it, knowing we’d banked some time in the first 14 miles to see us home in under that time. Which was all I’d wanted.
On we went, the never ending repetition of one foot in front of the other… we got to 23 miles and there was a bunch of Reading Roadrunner marshals there, a very welcome sight! Through the lucozade station we went, my stomach had startled growling to let me know it was hungry- never happened in a race before! I grabbed a lucozade to try and fill myself up, guzzling the sickly sweet orange nectar before discarding the bottle.
Through the tunnel we went and eventually emerged out the other side onto the embankment. This last part of the race NEVER ceases to amaze me, how 2 miles can seem quite so far is absolutely beyond me!!!
The support at this point though is phenomenal, past 24 miles and eventually past 25 the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben started to loom. I knew we were going to see Simon and the gang soon, we even saw my godmother and her hubby which I wasn’t expecting! Just past 25 miles we saw the gang, I was overjoyed! Less than a mile to go now.
Down Birdcage Walk, the signs for 800m, 600m, 400m to go felt like forever. Eventually we rounded the corner, past Buckingham Palace and down the Mall, crossing the finish line hand in hand in 3:27:48. We’d done it. Sub 3:30, it was a battle from start to finish. I don’t know if that was due to a cold, feeling tired or the length of time since my last long run. I was just happy it was over!
After thanking Nikki for her huge part in getting me round, I was eventually reunited with Simon and we made the slow walk over to find our families. Cue hugs all round (and a coughing fit which raised some eyebrows!) photos galore then off to Prezzo to refuel with our parents, my godparents, aunt and uncle and two cousins 😊
So despite training not going 100% to plan and not feeling on top of the world I finished within my goal time for this marathon. Something I have to remember to be proud of. No it wasn’t a PB but it’s showed me I can do pretty much anything I put my mind to, even if it starts to wander and negative thoughts find their way in. Being cheered on by family and friends is always a good incentive too!
So on to the next few months of Ironman training, then a well deserved rest before getting ready to hit London again next year. 2017 isn’t going to be the year of PBs like last year and I’m ok with that 😊
But first, a week off and a trip to Naples with my number one fan 😍