“Here we go!”, warned Andy, as we rounded the corner to run over Tower Bridge. I had been told about how running the Bridge was like running through a stadium; about how the noise was unreal… but this was unbelievable. The cheering, shouting, clapping was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. I got a proper lump in my throat – it was amazing.
My whole race yesterday was a dream. Thanks to my London dwelling friend Tom, getting to the start was really relaxed: he knew exactly where to go and how to get there. I slept well the night before and aside from dropping my timing chip on the way up the hill to the start (thank you, nice South African runner man for rescuing it!) everything was going exactly to plan. So far, so good.
Cat and Laura quickly found me in the epic toilet queue, and we quickly forgot we were running some marathon thing that morning. It was so nice to be able to have a laugh with the girls and chill out properly before we got going. I have a tendency to get all wound up about things like big races, so to have them there was great. I wasn’t even able to get angsty about the fact we were still waiting for the toilet at 9.55…
The Green start is the smallest, and a big of an anti-climax to be honest. There was a loud speaker man announcing all the elite men, but aside from clapping a bit at the incoherent names (and cheering when, I assume, he said Mo) it was hard to get real excited. But suddenly we were over the line annnnnnnnd running the London marathon. The three of us set off together, and I couldn’t believe how much support there was right from the start. The course itself was really crowded, and Laura and Cat kept falling in and out of my vision. It was really hard to “get going” as we had started nearer to the sub 4 hour pacer, and there were just so very many people. I was quite behind where I needed to be from very early on but I realised quickly that I didn’t really mind. I was absolutely loving the atmosphere, and the whole time I just couldn’t believe I was actually DOING LONDON.
I lost Laura when we both went to grab water at mile 3. I pushed on by myself, wondering how far away the 3 hour 30 pacers were and hoping I’d find her and Cat again. The course was still jam packed, but I knew I was about to come across Bez and Tom cheering at mile 6, so I tried to move across to the left hand side so I’d see them. I saw them once I’d gone past, and could only yell “MARK!” and journey on.
The miles just seemed to fly by. Every mile has a balloon arch to mark it, and they seemed to appear super quickly. I was feeling great, and was making sure I took on plenty of water. I hardly ever drink when I’m running, but I had to make sure I wasn’t an idiot. A nice man handed me his bottle once he was done with it at one stage, which was ace – only for me then to chuck it away a bit over enthusiastically and nearly hit a spectator with a buggy.
At around 10 miles I spotted my crazy lycra loving buddy, Andy, and we ran together for a while. He’s an ultra runner and pretty speedy, so I knew if I could stay with him, I’d be OK. Again, because of the crowded nature of the course it was hard to stay together I lost him quite quickly, but it was ace to have a friendly face to chat to. Just before Tower Bridge Liz screamed at me, and I saw her and Cakey and their amazing sign. You gave me a proper boost, thanks ladies. Just after half way we ran along a section with a double back on the other side, and I saw the elite men zoom past, including Mr Farah himself. He is the most stunning runner: it was quite surreal to see him fly past right next to me.
The miles continued to tick, tick, tick away and I was still feeling fab: I couldn’t believe it. It was nearly time to try and find Mum and Dad, who would be standing around mile 17. I was desperate to spot them as they were only going to be there before meeting me at the end. I searched and searched the sea of faces (nearly stacking it over a bollard. Muppet) before hearing my mum yell my name. I waved madly and blew them a big kiss. By this stage I was really near the sub 3 hour 30 pacer, so they knew I was on track. It was ace to know that the next time I would see them would be at the end.
I stuck right on the pacer, knowing that I was nearing my goal now that I’d caught him. The rest of the race is a bit of a blur. Running through the Canary Wharf area I saw Mark and Tom for the first time, still feeling amazing, so gave them a big thumbs up and gestured to Mark that I was on pace. I then saw my friend Ria and her husband Jon, and then Mark’s parents screaming my name. Being a Twitterpal of some members of RunDem Crew, I knew I should look forward to mile 21 – and it didn’t disappoint. Proper good cheering, and some amazing signs. I even managed to high five a ‘touch for power’ sign – thanks guys, you were ace!
At mile 22 I took my last gel, gritted my teeth and dug in. I knew I was slightly behind still and had to push on if I was going to make the time I wanted so badly. The crowd was still amazing: pushing, pushing, pushing me on. There was a massive tunnel at one point in these last four miles (they have all merged into one…) and running through it was quite incredible. There was no one there, aside from a DJ playing “Get Lucky”. As I ran through, the lyric “we’ve come too far, to give up who we are” powered through the speakers, and off I went. As I came out of the tunnel, the wall of noise from the spectators hit me, and I had to try really hard not to cry: crying would waste too much energy and I’d look like a nob.
Suddenly, it was mile 25. Then 800 metres to go, then 600… I knew I was going to be close to the mark. I sped up, pushed as hard as I could, passing people, the cheering becoming a distant hum, legs going numb. Then I finished. I looked at my watch and realised I didn’t actually mind that much what my time was. I’d had the most fantastic race, given it all I could and come really close what ever. Getting through the finish area was easy – I had my photo taken, and managed to get through to Mark, who was waiting in the meet and greet just around the corner. I couldn’t stop grinning, even when someone trod on my toe. That really hurt, thanks who ever you are.
I had a great day. I ran 3 hours 30 minutes 48 seconds, and although I am a bit peeved about not being 49 seconds faster, I can still call myself a 3 hours 30 minutes marathon runner. I am a London Good For Age qualifier and a Boston qualifier too. Not bad for someone whose first marathon was 5 hours 30 minutes long and involved a collapsing incident. I managed to do what I promised myself I would, and smile through every single mile marker. I know how lucky I am to be running, and how hard I’d worked to be running London at all. I felt great the whole race and never even felt close to ‘the wall’. This I put down to the Hanson Brothers marathon method, and would recommend it to anyone. I felt fresh as anything on the start line, and stronger and stronger as the race went on. I’d 100% use it again.
All in all, I had the most brilliant day. I still want to dip under 3 hours 30 minutes, and I am more confident than ever I’ll do it next marathon, maybe even sneak up on 3 hours 20. Hey, a girl can dream!
Massive well done to everyone who did London yesterday, what an amazing experience to share with you all. You too, Mo.
P.S Thank you for all the amazing Twitter support – it was ace to read all the messages on the way home.