The days, weeks and months of training were finally over and the big day was here. Here is my race recap of The London Marathon.
Part of every marathon training program is the taper period. For most people, this is basically a gradual reduction of running in the 3 weeks prior to the marathon. For me it consisted of no running at all for 3 weeks prior to the marathon. Not the best pre race preparation but I’d picked up a knee injury during my last long run and just wanted to give it as much time as possible to heal.
I’d read about “carbo loading” online so spent Thursday, Friday and Saturday doing just that. I was quite looking forward to it but actually found it really tough to eat all the extra grams of carbs that’s recommended. It became so complicated I almost wrote a whole blog post on this alone. One piece of advice I do have is that fruit juice / sports drinks have a decent amount of carbs in them which can be a bit easier than trying to eat so much.
The day before
I tried to take it easy on Saturday, doing as little as possible to try to save energy. I did go to the train station to buy my ticket so I didn’t have to worry about that in the morning. I barely moved all day unless it was to eat more carbs. Oh and of course I packed my race kit.
I went to bed early but I couldn’t sleep. Finally drifted off but soon woke up again a couple hours later. Checked the time, it was 3:10 and I was wide awake. Great. Eventually managed to go back to sleep for another hour or so and then it was time to get up.
Bran flakes with raisins and a slice of jam on toast for breakfast and I was out the door. Train was at 7:52 which I was 10 minutes early for. There were quite a few other runners at the station too, which for some reason I was surprised about. Ate a banana and sipped a bottle of Lucozade on the train before arriving at Blackheath station. A 10 minute walk later and I arrived at the start area.
There were 3 different starts; green, red (chairty runners) and blue (ballot places). I was in the blue start. The queues for the toilet were long but they moved very quickly. After a quick toilet stop, I dropped my kitbag off to the baggage lorry and made my way to the starting pen.
Standing in the starting pen I had a few minutes to gather my thoughts:
I was hoping that my knee would hold up or at least be kind enough to not seize up conpletely so that I could finish the race.
I was wondering how much fitness I had lost over the last 3 weeks that I hadn’t run.
And finally I was wondering whether id be able to run at all after the month’s worth of food I had eaten over the past 3 days. Fatso.
3, 2, 1, Go!!!
I had an energy gel and finished the last mouthful of water I had left. Then a few minutes later the Royals pushed the big red button to start the race.
I started to run. I felt….. fine. A bit bloated but fine. I was running pain free. The 4 hour pacers were a little bit in front of me, I kept them in sight for the first few miles. It was really hard to overtake with it being so busy so I didn’t bother trying.
After a couple of miles the crowd started to thin out a bit but then the red start merged with us and it become quite crowded again.
Soon reached 5k, time 27:56. Not bad at all. Still feeling good, but a bit of trouble with my breathing. Wasn’t sure if it was due to fitness or eating too much or both.
Carried on running with the 4 hour pacers still in sight.Had a gel at mile 4 and some Lucozade from the stand at mile 5. Soon arrived at the first famous landmark, Cutty Sark, at around about the 10k point. Time 56:29 so still on track. The crowds around here were fantastic.
Carried on running taking on water when needed and another gel at mile 9. Next landmark, Tower Bridge at approx 20k reached 01:56:07. Then through the halfway point in 2:02:55. A couple of minutes off sub 4 pace now but still feeling pretty good, though starting to tire slightly.
Just before mile 14 I felt me knee go.
I was absolutely devastated.
I stopped at a portaloo for a toilet break and to readjust my knee strap to see if it would help. But I knew that my knee had had enough. I text my Amy to let her know what happened. Game over.
“You can do it babe” – Amy’s reply came through. “We are all here for you, love you so so much”
That was all the motivation I needed. I would finish this marathon if I had to crawl.
I wished Amy and the rest of my family were a bit closer than the 23 mile point that they were at, but I knew if I could get to them them I would make it to the finish line.
I ran as best I could, and hobbled when the pain became too much. My mind was in a very dark place at points throughout the next 8 miles, and I had to have a real talking with myself to just put one foot in front of the other. I got talking with another runner who was having the same trouble as me. We ran together over the next 4 miles or so pushing each other on.
After what seemed like 4 weeks, I finally approached mile 23 and put in the best mile I managed all afternoon, driven by the sheer image of being able to see my family.
And then I finally saw Amy. I ran over and almost crumbled in her arms into a ball of emotions.
“I am so proud of you” she said.
“My knee is f*cked” I said.
A quick embrace with my mum, step dad, mother in law and aunty and I was off again. Just 3 miles to go.
The last mile of the course is a tourist dream. The Lonond eye, Westminster, Big Ben and Buckingham palace.
I finally went round the last corner and saw the 385 yards to go sign. I put on a brave face and ran as best I could to the finish line.
The second half had taken 2 hours 49 minutes compared with the 2 hours 2 minutes the first half took. My official chip time was 4:52:18. Not bad for a first marathon and even better considering my knee. Oh and of course it is a Marathon PB by default as its my first Marathon. So not the sub 4 hour marathon I was hoping for, but I’ll just have to save that one for another time 😜
I even got on TV! (thanks to my sister for spotting me) Here’s the proof:
Got home, had a bath, then ate Chinese food which Amy bought us. Had a proper look through my goody bag, and admired the T-Shirt and medal which I added to my collection:
Just look at that medal!
A lot of people have asked me if I would do another one? Well, would I do another one with an injury? Not a chance. But would I do another one fully trained and uninjured? That’s not so easy to answer.
What I can say is that I have run The London Marathon 😁 It will take along time for me to get bored of saying that.
Oh and did I mention that I am a marathon finisher?!
First thing is rest.
Second thing get my knee sorted out.
Third thing is to enter the ballot for next years London Marathon which opens on Monday 😜
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