The London Marathon

Thanks Chris for this Fab race report!

Having had a 48 hours to take in the events of Sunday I can now give a more reflective view of my London Marathon.

Saturday evening meant MORE pasta and a final check of kit before a relatively early night.  We set off for the train from Charing Cross to Greenwich at 8am and the train was absolutely full of runners – first timers like me and seasoned Pros telling us we would be fine and to enjoy the day.

Once in the park the number of runners just in the red start are became apparent, if only for the size of the queues for the loo!

At around 9.30 I made my way to the starting pen and joined up with other runners looking to do 4.30 – 4.45.  At around 9.57 the was the moment of silence for the Boston victims – they say silence is deafening and it truly was at this time, as well as being quite emotional.

Soon though we were off – through the gates and over the start line and timing mats.  It was easy to get swept along at this very early stage and I had to focus on slowing my pace to my target of 10 minutes per mile.  Soon you could get into a good rhythm although I could feel that it was going to be a hot day.  Those weekend training runs in the bitter cold, rain, snow and freezing wind were a distant memory.

Around the Cutty Sark it was a wall of noise and I kept going at a steady pace back towards Tower Bridge, where I was hoping to see Sam Tesch, the Openwork Foundation Manager who had headed there to see all 12 of the Openwork runner through.  It turns out that she saw me and was shouting at me but I didn’t spot her.  Then it was over Tower Bridge and to the half-way point (the distance I said last year at the Reading Half Marathon was more than enough) and the entrance into Docklands.  At this stage you can see the quicker runners coming out of Docklands as the routes run alongside each other.  Some of these runners looked good, some not so good!

My time for the first half was 2 hrs 12 minutes, an average of just over 10 min miles and I was feeling ok.

It was at around 17 miles that I started to struggle as my legs started to protest.  It was my joints (ankles, knees and hips) that struggled more than muscles and the slight pressure on my left toes began to worsen.  I did stop at a St John’s Ambulance post to get some petroleum jelly for my foot and saw some blistering.

As we went on my legs felt worse and I needed to go to a “run some, walk some” strategy to avoid getting cramp.  I also made sure I kept on taking in water and gels.

Now would be a god time to talk about the crowds – they are absolutely amazing and support everyone, – calling out your name and encouraging you – really really brilliant and a huge incentive to keep going and get back to running.  They hand out sweets and oranges, the kids all high-5 you and they stand out there for hours supporting all the runners.

As I was coming out of Docklands at around 22 miles you could see the last “stragglers” getting past half-way and then not far behind them the sweep up coaches and then the lorries beginning to dismantle the course!

 

Now it was “only” a run along the Embankment back to The Houses of Parliament before turning up to Buckingham Palace.  The crowds were, if anything, bigger and more vocal here, even if I did have to stop for a few leg stretches along the way.

Half way along Birdcage Walk you see a sign with 800 metres to go, then 600, 400 and you turn onto the Mall by Buckingham Palace under the bridge showing 385 yards left.  I was determined to run this last bit in some style but, with 50 metres left my leg cramped and I had to have one last stretch.  Then it was over the line in 4hrs, 56 minutes and 55 seconds – the longest time I have ever run and the longest distance I had ever run.

I had finished the London Marathon! It was slower than I had hoped but I had run 26 miles 385 yards, along with 34170 other finishers and I now have the medal and the t-shirt to prove it.  And I ran further than Mo Farah!

For anyone with an interest in timings and all sorts of useful/useless information (such as the fact that I finished ahead of 44% of women runners – and therefore behind 56% of women runners) go to http://results-2013.virginlondonmarathon.com/2013/index.php?content=detail&fpid=search&pid=search&id=0000030F5ECC830000059D76&lang=EN_CAP&event=MAS and have a look (Click on RunPix results display for the useful/useless stuff!) Look at the pictures at your own risk!

How do I feel 48 hours on?:-

Physically, not too bad.  A bit achy and sore but able to walk up and down stairs ok, which is, I am told, unusual.  My left toe is quite swollen, blistered and uncomfortable but apart from that not too bad.  I had a massage yesterday with my Sports Therapist Ruth Mills which did a lot of good and I made sure to stretch and eat after the race.  I do feel a bit “empty” of energy though, as is to be expected.

Mentally, ok as well.  It is always disappointing to not reach a target you have set, especially one you publicise to everyone!  However I ran my race the way I had planned and whether it was the heat, the fact that I could still do to lose a few pounds or simply that I am not built to run long distances I am not giving myself a hard time about it.  I am really proud to have done it though.

Would I do another one?  Undecided at this time.  IF I did, it would probably be a lower key race.  Places for London are difficult to come by and I have done it now and there are plenty of other people who would like the opportunity.  I would probably also do some more longer runs over a period of time – 13 miles seems ok now but it is the distance after this.  That is all still to decided.

 

What I do know is that I have been very fortunate to have so much support.  The messages of good luck before and the texts and e-mails immediately afterwards (did some of you have nothing better to do last Sunday than track me round London!) were brilliant and, it sounds corny but, I couldn’t have done it without you.

If anyone has the slightest inclination to do the London Marathon, whether for a charity or not, I would say go for it.  If you think you have a Marathon in you then you definitely do.

Once again thank you for your support.

Chris

(I’m off for an early night!)

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