London Marathon Weekend

After months of training my first London Marathon was here!!

Friday 11 April 2014
The weekend started with a trip to the London Excel in order to collect the race number, race pack and final instructions. There was also a chance to pick up some bargains from the trade stands, meet the charity members and listen to the various interviews being conducted on the stage.

I was lucky enough me meet Wilson Kipsang and Geoffrey Mutai at the Excel and have a photo taken with each, they both wished me good luck for the race. However, I am sure they were saying the same things to everyone else and I’m not holding much hope for a christmas card from them.

Sunday 13 April 2014
Race day and we are greeted with clear skies and rising temperatures. We set out from Farnham early and arrived at Blackheath Station around 0815. I got out of the car and made my way to the blue start area in Greenwich Park. I made my way to the toilet as I had clearly drank lots post waking up and thankfully there was no wait. Next stop was the changing area and time to put the club vest on and apply Vaseline. After dropping my bag off onto the lorry I managed to meet up with Fellow OAC club members, we had a team photo, wished each other good luck and went to our numbered pen.

I was in pen 8 and by chance the pace group of 4:30hrs was at the back of pen 7.. Result. I slowly limbered up while sipping water and with 15 mins to the start necked my first energy gel. I did not hear a countdown or a starting horn but a glance across the field confirmed the marathon had begun.

It took 15 mins to cross the start line and i joined the 4:30hrs pace group as planed and settled into a nice rhythm and the miles were ticking off nicely.

Family were waiting at mile 3 and wished me good luck for the rest of the race. At mile 4 it was time for another energy gel, my intention was to take an energy gel at mile 4 and then every three miles after as this plan had worked well in training.

I was feeling great and things were going to plan until mile 8, i was getting too hot and was over heating and by mile 10 i had slowed quite a lot and lost touch with the 4:30hrs pace group. I realised my original plan was not going happen and I came up with a new battle plan. I slowed to a comfortable pace and I was now running with the 5hr pace group.

Running over tower bridge was amazing and one of the race highlights. I knew the bridge was just before the half way but I was still struggling. I had passed a few collapsed runners just after tower bridge who were being tended to by St John and hoped that I would not be in that position later. My race now became a race of survival and I just wanted to get to the finish line.

The weather was very warm (sore sunburn now) i was unsure if i was taking on to little or too much fluid but i was struggling to get going. The miles slowly ticked by and the welcoming thoughts and sights my family further up the course kept me going. Looking back at the race I should of dissolved an electrolyte tablet in water and consumed that and not plain water. My slowing I believe was due to an electrolyte depletion.

After tower bridge the race heads towards Millwall and then Canary Wharf and the high rise buildings. This part of the race is packed with spectators taking advantage of the race doubling back from the high risers and towards the finish. By the time I had got to this point, between mile 13-14, runners were already streaming past me on the other side of the road.

After a loop of Millwall you enter the high risers and the conditions change. Yes we were out of the direct sun and into the building shade, but this created still stuffy air. Due the narrow roads and the convoluted route around the buildings this created runners congestion and the lucozade stops created an area resembling a nightclub dance floor (sticky), this part of the race was the least enjoyable. I was glad to see back of the high risers at mile 20.

With the high risers behind me we were now into the final quarter of the race and it was a 10k to the finish line. My pace remained consistent, but the miles were passing a lot slower that I intended. I would pass runners who looked to be worse than me and I wanted the finish line to hurry up. The crowds were amazing all the way around the route, however in the final stages they really keep you going. Every time I tried to walk a little people would shout out my name (glad my name was printed in my vest) and urge you to start running again. Not wanting to let the crowd down I started running/shuffling again and the crowed cheered. This cycle of trying to walk and being made to run continued to the finish line. At this point of the race I could feel a blister developing on my big toe but this was masked by the pain in my legs. It actually hurt more to walk than run/shuffle.

Eventually I got to mile 23 i realised it was a parkrun to the finish and that i was going to make it. We ran along the embankment and around Big Ben onto Birdcage Walk. This was really tough but I was nearly there and eventually Buckingham Palace came into view. What a great sight Buckingham Palace was and with the emotions building the leg pain subsided and my pace picked up slightly. I rounded the corner and the finishing line lay in front of me. With the crowds clapping me home I clenched my fists and raised my arms In the air and ran down the mall like a man possessed and over the finish line I went. The feeling of completing my first marathon and it being London was amazing, and overwhelming and I nearly cried.

For years I had watched the London Marathon on the TV and now I had completed it! something i had been dreaming of for years.

After crossing the finishing line the I think the organisers have a little bit of fun by making you walk up a ramp to have your timing chip removed from your laces and the make you walk down the other side. However it was worth it, at the bottom of the ramp a lovely lady waited clutching my finishers medal. The medal was placed around my neck and it was finally real.

I collected my goodie bag and my kit bag from the lorry and went to meet up with family on horse guards parade who were waiting under the letter “S”. As I was running for Macmillan Cancer Support I went along to their recovery centre. Here i was given a hero’s welcome and clapped and cheered into the room. I had some full fat coke while I waited for a massage. Post massage I changed and before leaving grabbed some food, now I was really hungry. I met up with family again and we made the journey home.

Some learning points have been taken from this race and I shall be better prepared for my next marathon. Yes I plan to do another!

This was a fantastic weekend and one I shall remember for ever.

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