I did it !!!! I only went and finished it !!!
What an event, some people I’ve seen call it a race than brings out the best in London and I can only agree. The crowd are 2-3 deep or more throughout the whole course, everyone cheering, shouting your name and wishing you to take that one more step forward. Wow just wow!
Please read on for my report of my race, my London marathon experience
The obligatory kit laid out shot:
My wife and I stayed in the Holiday Inn Express in Hoxton. Nice little hotel, loads of places to eat nearby, relatively quiet, early breakfast supplied and we also managed to get on the coach that took us to the start! The coach left at 7:15 which was a little early but saved all the hassle of trains etc
(It’s quite hard to get all my chins in one photo but I managed it !!!)
The first nerves set in on the coach and I started getting all sweaty and panicky. Luckily my wife calmed me down a bit but I was still quite panicked.
Got off the coach by the start where the start zones split Red to the left, blue start to the right. As it was so early we went for a cup of tea at the little stall that was making an absolute killing. By this point I was also rocking the hobo look:
(bit concerned by the number of police stalking me at that point! I can confirm they all had huge breakfast baps from the little stall.)
It’s amazing how fate kicks in sometimes, in the middle of my little panic, Tiggy and Simon (Hedgies) appeared over the road! I ran over like a lunatic to say hi, which may have scared them a little and they came over for a chat.
Simon, if you read the previous post, was 50/50 for the race and unfortunately had to pull out but still came up to London to support. He’s a better man than me as I’m not sure I could have done that. It was great seeing them, having a joke and seeing Simon smiling and telling me to have a good run for us both.
A quick cuddle (my wife and I that is), and then we split up to go into our respective start areas for the pre-race mucking about. Two things that made me smile:
- a man brought a tent in! He assembled it and climbed in, when it was time for the start, he got out and strolled to his pen leaving the tent behind. I salute him for that!
- a Geordie who came up to me as I was putting on Vaseline and started doing the same and told me “you wait till you get old, your balls drop and you have to Vaseline up each ball individually!!!” cheers for that thought pre-race but definitely took my mind off the race!
So starting the race I felt OK, quite calm and just wanting to get on with it.
The pen system worked broadly OK and I went through 13-14 minutes after the official start which was fine. My pacing was OK and I felt quite strong and having broken the race up into individual 5k with a gel at each 5k and taking on a couple of sips of water at each water stop. Turns out I was on TV as well just as I went past the start (this was just before I realised I was still wearing my hat!
As you can see it was quite a quiet race, not many people at all…
So 5k, 10k, 15k all went quite smoothly. I knew I was going a tiny bit quicker than planned but felt good, so carried on and loved the feeling that I was just chalking off km’s.
I saw Tiggy and Simon again at 8-9 miles and that gave me a little lift
Just seen I was with the 4:45 pacers which is more than a tiny bit quicker than planned
Just before the Cutty Sark I caught up with a Kids runner with whom I chatted and shared the phenomenal experience of the crowds at the Cutty Sark and then the lows before Tower Bridge. Being with someone kept me strong and took my mind off the running.
Also saw Mark and Hannah at the Kids cheer point which was brilliant and then Ali from rugby who just appeared out of nowhere!
Tower Bridge – wow, what a moment! BUT I also knew once you turn right, the hard work and pain kicks in. This is where I fell apart 3 years ago so I was determined to keep going through it. Mentally I wasn’t stopping for a walk until I saw Hannah and Mark again (19 miles). Through Canary Wharf which is always quite emotional for some reason and randomly saw Clare and Kathyrn Burton in the crowd! I’d run part of Eastleigh with Kathyrn and Clare is one of my wife’s oldest friends! That gave me a nice little lift before some internal swearing at where the bl00min hell Hannah and Mark were! Eventually came across them and gave Hannah a massive sweaty hug (sorry about that).
Seeing them gave me the lift needed and I just knew I could keep going to get to 32km so only a 10k to survive. I managed this just but the dreaded wall was catching me up. (according to my splits I was at 30k in 3:24) so mentally whilst I knew sub 5hr was probably gone there was still a chance.
From then on in it was pure pain. Some run walking, then running and eventually came by London Bridge and knew I was in the home straight. Seeing the House of Parliament as you go down embankment is both a blessing and a curse. I swear they kept moving it back! I also saw a Jess from my team at work, which was great to keep my spirit going.
Then round the houses of parliament, down some street onto the Mall and then the 800m, 600m, 400m, 200m to go signs. By this point I just wanted to get finished and I’m not sure I savoured the finish as much as I should have done.
Finished and a wave of emotion came over me, I’d done it, the people who had supported us had been right, we’d raised a crazy amount of money and I knew there was food, coffee and a seat waiting for me!!!
I’m known for not being a particularly cheerful chap post race.. the runners high can take a little while to kick in. It’s amazing that you’ve just gone 26.2miles yet when the baggage lorry is 200 meters away it feels like, well a marathon!
Normal well organised post race, get medal, have some pics, pick up bag then out into Horse Guards Parade where I had to get to XYZ meeting point. Bloomin miles away where I met Mark who then walked me to the Kids reception. This took forever due to the queues and I had a few wobbles with fainting and generally not being too good. I think at times Mark was hugging me to keep me upright which can’t have been that pleasant!
The Kids reception was nice, the massage, cup of tea and a biscuit well received. Quick taxi to Waterloo – A big thank you to Frank the taxi driver who asked us to donate the fare to our charity but then told us to hurry up out of the taxi as he had to go out and earn some money!
Nice journey home with lots of runners and an evening of reading facebook posts etc, eating a calorie controlled KFC with a couple of lagers!
A big thank you – to everyone who has supported me through this journey to completion of the London Marathon. From the Monday Maidens, all the Hedgies I’ve met in person or virtually, everyone who sponsored us, support at work, support from family and friends but most importantly Hannah and Mark. They are my sister and brother in law and also part of #harrysrunners. They are just amazing. There was never any doubt they would come up to London and cheer us on from various places then carry us to the meet point, put up with us, fetch stuff etc. All done with a smile and I honestly think the experience wouldn’t be as good without them there. THANK YOU
Am so pleased I did it. The race is awesome, the crowd like nothing else I’ve experience, the route showing off the best of London and I knocked off 32mins from my pb and finished in 5:04
Before the race, I wrote 3 things on my hand to remind me:
- 429 – distance run in training to give me confidence my legs had enough in them
- £4,219 – the amount raised so far for KIDS
- Keep Going – to have it there in front of me that every step forward is one more towards the finish.
Next week, the Milton Keynes marathon to finish our challenge. I’m kind of ignoring it for now but I’ll let you know how it goes