I was delighted late last year at winning the club ballot place for this year’s London Marathon. After years of watching it on the couch in my PJs, I was excited to finally be participating.
I thought the event was incredibly well organised, and actually pretty calm at the start considering the number of runners (40,000). The queue for the toilets was fine – always a good indicator of race organisation! Despite others’ experiences, I actually managed to settle into a reasonable pace about a mile of so after the start line – about 5min/km. I was excited and full of beans so it felt slow but, despite my concern at sticking to it, Mick’s words of wisdom stuck in my head the whole way round and I did as I was told! What great advice though, because it really was like night and day compared to Edinburgh a few years ago when I went off far too fast and died at mile 20.
Everything they say about the atmosphere and crowd support is so true – it was like running through a festival! A combination of that, my new-found pals ‘The Gels’ (one every 5 miles), water every mile (running conditions were ideal, but a little warm) and the sensible pacing meant the miles went in pretty quickly. I was comfortable until about mile 18, when the chafing started (ouch!) and when my Garmin stopped taking signal and was telling me my pace was dropping to 6min…then 6.30min…then 7min. I couldn’t understand why I was slowing so much when I felt like I was running just as hard – my heart sank and my head went down as I thought I was beginning to hit the wall. Turns out it was just my watch and that was actually the quickest bit of my race due to the overcompensating I was doing to make up my time! Around that time was my first experience of witnessing someone hit the wall in front of me – absolutely horrible. From about mile 23, people were pulling up with injuries and walking. It definitely affects you. So despite my game plan to pick up the pace for the last couple of miles, I told myself not to do anything stupid and just make sure I got over the line (nothing to do with my aching legs, of course!!). Ran up the iconic Mall and over the line in 3.29.05 and was absolutely delighted! Deep down I had hoped I’d get around 3.30, so I really did surpass my own expectations.
Thanks so much to everyone at the club for their help and support in training for the marathon – couldn’t have done it without you! I had the best run of my life and am so grateful for the opportunity.