To say London Marathon was a great event would not only be an understatement, but it would also be a complete injustice to how unbelievable the event was. In fact, I’m still on a runner’s high and I have no idea when I’m going to come down…
I must admit that I was a lot more nervous the night before this race than I have been for any of the previous ones I’ve took part in. That came down to the fact I knew so many people would be in attendance, friends, family, colleagues and of course Run Dem. After nursing phantom niggles throughout the taper period my quads felt really tight and heavy during that last week; I even tried a last minute massage to put my mind and body at ease.
On race day an early night had been had and I tried to wolf down the obligatory porridge and banana breakfast at the flat before making my way to Greenwhich. With the team photo complete and goodbyes and goodlucks said to the rest of the Prostate Cancer UK team, I made my way over to Blackheath to prepare myself for the start. My legs were still feeling rather tight so I generously applied some deep heat before handing my bag in and then fortunately bumped in to another member of Run Dem for a quick pep talk before we started.
Throughout the whole of the training journey I told myself a PB is not the aim; I also told myself that London is a rare opportunity and that first and foremost I need to enjoy it. This of course went out the window the moment we crossed the start line. My competitive nature meant that I set my sights on a sub 4 hour marathon and the reasons for me taking part were completely lost. After going out way too fast and leaving the 4 hour pacer for dust I realised I needed to rein it in and allow them to catch up.
What happened next –in a twisted kind of way- was undeniably the best thing that could have happened; my GPS watch died and then my quads and hamstrings decided to cramp up in both legs. I was only 20km in at this point and I had no idea how I was supposed to finish the race. The pacer saw me pull off to the side wincing in pain and asked if I was okay before offering me a caffeine and salt pill with some water. After thanking her for her generosity (thank you Suzie!) she wished me good luck and ran away into the distance – sub 4 hours was now out of the question.
Now came the moment where everything changed as I decided to turn my watch off and aim to enjoy the event as much as possible, by engaging with the crowd, high fiving the kids and making sure I kept a smile on my face. Now my sights were set on getting to mile 17 to see my family before the much anticipated Mile 21 and Cheer Dem.
Cheer Dem was special and I had heard a lot about it but never knew really what to expect. As I saw the sign for mile 21 I knew the moment was near and my eyes darted around looking for where they might be. As soon as I saw the beginnings of colourful spray paint along with the ‘big heads’ of all our runners I braced myself for the special moment and out came the gun finger salutes!
A swift encounter with Colin Jackson down the embankment and getting airtime on the BBC added to the amazing experience of the day and I honestly feel I couldn’t have enjoyed it more if I tried. A very poignant phrase that’s often heard by our crew captain is “it’s not about how fast you finish but how you cross the finish line” and the real meaning of that phrase most definitely came through to me on the day.
I implore anybody thinking about running London to DO IT. I can honestly say it’s the best race I’ve taken part in to date and I believe everybody should experience it. It’s a special marathon for sure and I’m glad my change of mindset allowed me to enjoy it as much as I did in the end.
Have you run London? Are you thinking about it? I’d love to hear your experiences or apprehensions so give me a shout!