Monday, 27 April 2015

Twenty six point two

Despite having looked forwards to this Monday morning off for the last couple of months I have definitely got post marathon blues this morning! Today feels very ordinary in comparison to the elation of yesterday and it's odd not having the event looming over me.

Hanging up my current trainers - new ones needed!

So, the important bits (for those you who don't want to read the whole thing) I managed to complete the London Marathon is respectable time of 3:35:06 - a little outside my ultimate goal of 3:30 but this just means I can give it another go! Plus, I exceeded my fundraising target thanks to all the amazing support of friends and family which i'm extremely grateful for.

Thank you from my training partner
There were two big highlights of yesterday, firstly seeing my support crew, Charlie's Army, at the 600m to go mark which brought tears to my eyes and gave me the last push to cross the line. Secondly, I am so inspired and humbled by the runners taking part with various disabilities - everything from blindness to amputations - you guys are all absolute hero's and I can't put into words how much I respect I have for you all.

Despite having been really nervous all of last week, I woke up feeling very calm and relaxed. Breakfast was two slices of wholemeal toast, a small bowl of porridge with 2 big cups of tea and Beetroot Juice. After this, I headed off to Victoria Station to catch the train to the Start (Blackheath as I was in Blue). Arriving at Victoria, it was pretty obvious where the train was thanks to the swarm of runners. I managed to get a seat so the 25 minute journey passed in a flash. I arrived nice and early at the start enclosure so made a beeline for the loo's. My attention was caught firstly by the 'female urinals' but after seeing the paper cups being given out I changed course and went for the classic portaloo option!

Looking significantly fresher pre race!

I then made my way to my start pen, warming up enroute - then before I knew it we were off, crossing the line just 3 minutes after the first wave. The route over first 3 miles was very congested and slow - the pace was around 8.5 minutes and getting past people was almost impossible. At around mile three we were joined by the other starters making the route even busier. I was trying to increase my pace as much as possible to recover lost time but it was very challenging simply because of the amount of people.

Time was absolutely flying and before I knew it the Cutty Sark was looming into view just after mile 6. I pushed on, having managed to recover a minute or so but still off the pace I needed for 3:30.  Next came Tower Bridge at mile 12 which was something I had really looked forwards too as all the iconic images of the London Marathon are from here. It didn't disappoint - the atmosphere was just incredible and the noise so loud that it drowned out my music!

 Just the other side, the course doubles back and I was lucky enough to see the Elite Men coming the other way - they are something else! Their pace was unreal but a great boost to keep pushing.

Reaching half way, I was feeling really good! It had gone so quickly and all my fueling and hydration plans were on track. Then I reached mile 16 and at that point I had a little wobble thinking about the last 10 miles I still had to cover but quickly recovered and kept going. At mile 18 another runner asked me how I was doing and I remember saying 'its starting to hurt' to which he replied 'only 8 miles to go, chin up!'. By mile 20 I started getting a pain in my right quad so I decided to stop and stretch briefly to avoid making it worse. After this I noticed my pace start drop and my legs started to feel increasingly heavy but I reached mile 21 and took my final Gel which definitely helped.

By this point I was getting lots of encouragement from the crowd, hearing people shouting your name is such a lift and really helps to keep you going. Despite feeling like I slowed down a lot, I was still managing just over 8 minute miles and the route had thinned out so I was able to overtake more than being overtaken. Then I saw the mile 24 marker and although I knew I wasn't going to come in under 3:30 I knew the end was less than 20 minutes away so really started to push again.

The last couple of miles were my favorite as we ran along South Bank. A group of people with a Megaphone shouted out my name and told me to smile (as I tend to have slightly miserable look about me!) which made me laugh and did put the smile back on my face.

Then Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament came into view just as the course turned right and suddenly it was the final straight of the Mall. As I passed the 600m marker, I saw my support crew at which point I was holding back tears as I started to feel really emotional but was so happy to have seen them! Next thing I knew, I was going under the 365 yards to go bridge and then the finish line was in sight...just before the line I joined hands with a complete stranger and we crossed the line together which I was so happy about as I really liked the 'hand in hand' concept from the first ever London Marathon.

And that was that! The race was over and I fulfilled a life long ambition - I was so happy with my race, time and the overall experience. I made my way down the finish straight collecting my medal (which felt so heavy around my weary neck!) followed by my goody back, on to the meet and greet area to await being collected.

As I was walking I was in a lot of pain - it felt like my muscles were literally screaming at me. At this stage I thought I was going to be in a lot of trouble the next day but after a long walk back to the station (thanks to my brother who took us Via Piccadilly) I was starting to feel much better. Following an amazing feast of burgers, chips and garlic bread I was pretty much back to normal again.

Luckily this morning I'm feeling pretty fresh - I can definitely feel I have done a run but i'm not in pain which is a bonus. I'm already starting to think about what's next but I have promised to not sign up for anything for a least a week.

I'm planning on taking the next few days nice and easy to make sure I don't do any damage to my muscles but after that it will be back to business as usual! It seems very strange that my journey to complete the marathon is over but I have sneaky feeling this won't be my last so stay tuned ;)