I knew this would happen, I just knew it. After training through the cold, the rain and the wind I knew I could happily handle 26 miles in any of those conditions but what I knew I would struggle in would be heat. So naturally, 13th April brought a beautiful Spring day filled with sunshine. Seriously. Nothing that could be done about that though so just planned to take water regularly and take it steady if needed.
The start was great fun and I basically won the toilet queue by getting there *just* before the queues got ridiculous. Liberally applied suncream before dropping my bag off and joining the start. Took about 20 minutes to cross the start but it felt quite relaxed and steady and once over the line I was able to run straight away. First off I’ll say that everything I’d heard about London crowds was true and there were people lining the route 100% from beginning to end and I have never heard my name cheered (and even chanted a few times!) so much in my life. At the start I was shouting “Thank you!!” enthusiastically back to everyone, by the end they got a weak arm raise. But I genuinely do thank every single one of them.
The first miles were rocking. Was pacing myself well and staying pretty much on target pace even though my legs were itching to go faster (where was THAT enthusiasm later, legs?!). Didn’t know that area of London so it was nice to see and the people were great. Route got a little bit crowded in places which was frustrating but I’d been expecting it. It’s not that I needed to be racing ahead, it’s just never fun to be penned it.
At this point I shall have one teeny tiny rant about run/walkers. Massive respect for you, I’m sure you’re raising a lot of money and you’re probably actually not going much slower than me, but WHY WEREN’T YOU IN THE RUN/WALK START GROUP?! I mean later on it was fair game for just stopping suddenly, but in the first half it was quite annoying to have to pick my way around people walking. Definitely need to be a pen ahead next time. (Next time?!)
Both sets of supporters were around mile 12 and I saw my parents first at Bermondsey and had a jelly baby along with a couple of photos, before crossing over to the other side of the route to see my friends who were just on the corner before Tower Bridge and everyone was in Team Jess t-shirts which was epic!! I’d just passed a water station so I greeted my friends by squirting them with it which I’m not sure they appreciated ;)
Running over Tower Bridge was epic, a definite highlight, and I then came over the halfway point at 2hr16 so just slightly over time for a 4hr30 finish. No problems, I thought, just need to do the second half quicker.
Had a random knee pain at around 15 miles which was new and exciting but it went away pretty quick thank goodness, but around this point I started to feel pretty tight in the IT bands which was starting to slow me down. This section around Isle of Dogs/Canary Wharf was definitely toughest for me. I was starting to struggle and really needed to push on and keep a rhythm going but at this point the course got quite narrow and crowded and forced me to slow down quite significantly, and from here I never really got my rhythm back. Was delighted when I knew I was headed back in the direction for home because that section had me so disorientated. Just seemed to be lopping round and round!!
From mile 23 I wanted to walk so much and did so through a couple of water stations but I think this is where the crowds are pretty much the only thing keeping you going - every time I wanted to stop someone shouted my name and I thought, “Well I can’t stop now, can I?”
Stomach was also feeling a little weird at this point - nothing bad, just a little unsettled and all the sweets still being offered didn’t seem appealing any more. Didn’t want any more lucozade either and water didn’t seem to be doing much. What I REALLY wanted at this point was a beer :)
Embankment was insane and despite missing all my support groups along here (although the ones that saw me said I looked very focussed - hooray for sunglasses covering the despair in my eyes!) I was obviously cheered the whole way along and I did increase pace a little as the 25 mile marker passed by and the people shouting “You’re nearly there!” were finally telling the truth.
The 800m sign seemed too good to be true but there was Buckingham Palace and when you turn that corner the finish line is suddenly right there. Finally the path was clear and I “sprinted” towards it and across the line in an official time of 4:42:29. Hoorah!
Not going to lie, I am *slightly* disappointed that my time wasn’t a bit closer to 4hr30 as my training went well and I thought I was capable, but it just wasn’t the day for it. It’s a busy race and it really was a warm day. In those last 6 miles, whenever I started getting cross that my pace was slipping I would inevitably see someone being treated by the St John’s Ambulance and I’d think, okay, better to finish slow than not finish at all.
And I’m now a marathoner. And that’s pretty darn amazing.
i really like looking at google image searches for “firemen rescuing cats” or something because you get super cute pictures like
AND THEN THERE’S THIS ONE
"THAT’S RIGHT TWAS I that set the house ablaze!!!”This will never not be funny