It’s Wednesday 25th April – 3 days after London Marathon and my legs still hurt a fair bit. Post race I’ve found it best not to sit still for too long as it only makes it harder to move again when required for essential tasks (like making a cup of tea or finding the biscuit tin).
Despite the post run aches and pains, I’m pleased to say I made it around the 26.2 miles to collect my finisher’s medal for my marathon debut. That, and raising money for SENSE, were my main objectives after all, so job done really.
It wasn’t straight forward though – far from it in fact.
In my head I also wanted to get under 4 hours and I felt I could go quicker even running conservatively with an acceptance that the last few miles would be tough. Beforehand I was relaxed and really looking forward to it.
Things started OK over the first few miles. If anything I was running too fast, so I backed off a bit. However by mile 5 I wasn’t feeling great, somewhat sluggish although the average pace was still positive. Things continued to decline and by mile 9 I was feeling rubbish.
Was it the record temperatures for London Marathon (24 degrees)? Had I not fuelled well enough? Was I not drinking enough? No, I don’t think it was any of those things at that point…I was just having a bad day. It happens, but with 17 miles still to go it was going to be a struggle regardless of the reason.
In my infinite wisdom I had also decided to run un-guided. My friend Charlotte Ellis (a VI runner who recently posted a superb 3:20 time at Manchester marathon) warned that I might find this challenging and she was right.
With 40,000 runners it was unsurprisingly very busy on course. I guess I hadn’t anticipated just how crazy it was going to be though. People were moving from left to right and back again at random, trying to squeeze through spaces that someone half their size couldn’t have hoped to have negotiated, pointy elbows sticking out all over the place and bottles flying everywhere at aid stations were just a few highlights.
The concentration levels had to be so high at all times. So much so that I didn’t see most of the iconic landmarks on route like the Cutty Sark or Big Ben…these are big objects to miss entirely! I was doing OK though until a guy I was directly behind just stopped dead in the middle of the road as if he’d been frozen in time…I ploughed straight into him. No major damage done, but this incident irritated my back (and me generally!) and resulted in some nerve issues into my leg on and off for the remainder of the run.
At this stage part of me wanted to jack it in. To be honest I wasn’t enjoying it, I knew I was going to be well off pace and I was finding the noise of the very enthusiastic crowd’s at bit overwhelming and unrelenting.
After giving myself a stern talking to I plodded onwards as I had to finish to achieve my fundraising goal. Giving up was never really an option.
It never got much easier, so with survival mode engaged at a ridiculously early stage, it was a case of running a mile or two and walking through the aid stations and repeat several times. The longer I was out there the more the heat became an issue, although I coped OK with that. By mile 20 my legs felt like concrete.
Although not wishing it on anyone, I could at least take some solace in the fact that numerous hardened marathon runners were also struggling and saying it was the toughest one they had ever done. Most people I spoke to lost between 30-60 minutes from what they had hoped to achieve. Judging by the number of people who required medical treatment it clearly wasn’t the best conditions for this typeof event.
I was relieved when it was finally over, and like a lot of people had gone past the point where I cared about the time. The majority of us were just happy to get through it.Putting everything into perspective of course was the terrible news about Matt Campbell, who lost his life after collapsing at the 22.5 mile mark. His fundraising page has now reached over £150,000 and you can donate here if you wish. You can also run the last 3.7 miles for him with more about this here.
P.S. A big thank you to Jill for all her help over the weekend and for her valiant if ultimately unsuccessful attempt to spot me at several points on the route!