On the way home today I saw a horse careering across a field without a care in the world. Bombing up and down the hills. Mad as it sounds, that’s how I felt on London marathon day. Like a careering horse.
I nearly didn’t do it. After a surprise PB the week before at Brighton, a week with a dodgy foot and a jaunt up The Beacon the day before, I was so close to bailing. I didn’t need to do two marathons in two weeks. I’d probably get really injured. I’ll wipe myself out for The Bastion. I’d done London before and it was too brilliant – I didn’t want to spoil that memory. I could do with not running. I could… I should… I didn’t… but then I did it and it was the most wonderful of days.
Running London again was like watching a film that I adored and hadn’t seen for ages, and watching with someone who’d never seen it before. I knew which bits to look forward to and which bits were a bit of a tough watch – all the best films flip flop your emotions – and most of all I wanted those around me to enjoy it as much as me.
On Sunday, I just ran. That was it. I had no idea how my legs would feel, nor where my head would be, and so all I could really do was RUN.
I didn’t love the first few miles. It was quite cold, and my legs seemed a bit confused and grumpy about what we were doing.
“Why are we doing this again?” they grumbled, as I weaved my way (see Garmin ultra marathon distance) my way out into London. Just after cruising past the Cutty Sark, I saw Mark and took it as an opportunity to have a rest. He shoved me on my way after I’d gotten rid of my jacket like Superwoman.
I spent the next 10K mostly looking forward to Tower Bridge. Last time, I adored running over it so, so, so, so, much and could not wait to do it again. I’m a show off, a centre of attention person and Tower Bridge makes you feel like a superstar wonderwoman. Basically, you’re Beyoncé.
From half way, I started to really enjoy myself. It was as if my legs had forgiven me for making them do yet another thing, and I settled into just really ENJOYING myself. The crowds in London are indescribable. The signs, the noise, the cheering of your name, the encouraging personal comments (thank you, whoever said “you look so happy!”), the high fives; you can’t help but smile and drink it all in.
I hit 20 miles and still felt on top of the world. 10K to go and it was all to play for. The tunnels came (I love the tunnels), the confetti and music at 21 miles… mile 23 and I still felt good, so let myself go as quick as I could and settled into a quicker pace (looking at my splits, I did the last 5K in 7.34 pace, which I am totally thrilled with). Those last three miles were the best three miles of any race ever. Ever. Amazing. I’d not really made the most of them last time, as I’d been so focussed on my time and pushing to the line, but this time I saw everything and loved it all. The Eye, Big Ben, Parliament, all the crowds – it’s all just brilliant!
I finished still grinning from ear to ear and not wanting to be sick. Whilst I was a tiny bit disappointed not to dip under 3.45, I’m so glad I ran the way I did. I loved it all and finishing strongly felt amazing.
The next marathon I do is going to be a whole different game. I’ve still got 11 weeks of training to go before I run 26.2 again on the 10th July around Hever. I’ve got my half ironman race in May and I’m extremely excited. So excited.
So thank you, London, for knocking my socks off but putting the wind in my sails. You’re the BEST.