It was a long time coming after eight knock backs from the ballot, but I thankfully got a place through the club this year! I think with this in mind I was much more worried about getting injured, but managed to get through the training with just a couple of weeks missed.
Amy and Bert from Portobello Running Club picked me up at 5:30am! We then picked up Rachel and got the first flight down to London, so we’d make it in plenty of time for the Expo which shut at 17:00. We picked up our race packs and some great bargains at the Ron Hill stand. We then realised we had done quite a bit of walking about and wanted to rest our legs for the race, so had lunch sitting on the floor of the Exhibition as all the seats were gone. We later found a great Italian restaurant for dinner and got our carbs up before heading back to our hotels.
I was up before my alarm went in the morning and set off after catching breakfast, which was on early because of the race. I had a good chat with some Midlands lads on the way to the start area where I met Julie. I was a bit worried about putting all my stuff including flight and rail tickets into the one bag at bag drop off, but it’s so well organised I thought it would be fine and it was. I got three small bottles of water while waiting around for the start which was much needed before the race. I had taken along two bin bags and two old T-shirts to keep warm before the race and these were very much needed as it was quite cold. Great conditions for running in though.
We were then in our pens and ready for the start! I really had no idea what running pace I should be going for as I had been running a tougher training schedule. I was unsure though if this had made me stronger or just burnt me out, as my legs had been very creaky over the last month. I would not have been surprised if my hamstring twanged along the way! I decided to not push it hard at the start as they say, but go as fast as felt comfortable. This still turned out to be too fast though, and by mile 10 I realised I’d not be able to hold that pace. I took about 7 gels along the route between miles 8 and 24 which really helped me along. I found it very hard going for the last 8 miles or so, and by mile 24 I was feeling quite dazed!
The London crowd were fantastic and there wasn’t any points along the route where you weren’t being cheered on. I put my name on my vest and this really helped as they would call out your name with encouragement to keep you going. It was great passing the Cutty Sark and the crowds were great there. I started off waving to people calling me on, but this eventually changed to a smile as I got more knackered.
With so many runners all together my heel was knocked from runners behind quite regularly, as they tried to skip between each other when there wasn’t enough space to do so. There were two point where I very nearly landed on my face! Even though I was getting progressively more tired I was still quite pleased with my pace and was hopeful of a PB. The crowds cheering were very loud and fantastic to experience! I made sure to take in the sites and the crowd as I ran on passed. It would be a shame not to take in your surroundings on such a route, only being interested in a time. Tower Bridge was stunning as we turned a corner and suddenly it was right there…. Half way! The shiny financial district was good to run through too and the Shard and Gherkin buildings were often on view around the course. When I saw Big Ben, that was really a point where I thought I’d make it okay without my hamstring going, which was giving me a twinge here and there. Then round to Buckingham Palace and the final dash to the finish line!
The medal and T-shirt were great, along with the various snacks and drinks in the goody bag. I met Sadie at the finish area and then picked up our dropped off bags with no queues or hassle. We then met up with other Harriers at the ‘P’ runners meeting point which worked out well. Amy was there and Rachel and Tracy arrived shortly after. We had a good chat about our races and got some more photos. As I walked to the tube station, just before getting my flight home, I got a good view of the fun runners passing in their various costumes, including rhinos and Big Ben!
All in all a fantastic marathon and very pleased to come home with a PB of 3:40:24 too. Over 5 minutes off my Amsterdam PB. Hopefully Edinburgh will be a good marathon too! Thanks Amy for the lift to the airport at such an early time!