Virgin London Marathon 13th April 2014

Wow! Just WOW!!

I’ve had a couple days to mull over this one.  The only thing I can compare the London Marathon to is the feeling of meeting your idol face to face and sitting down for the afternoon for a relaxing chat.  That’s what it felt like.  Yes.  I’ve never done that but I’m sure I would have the same feeling before and after. 

Picking up my running number was entertaining.  I’m no Londoner and the thought of getting lost on the tubes or taking the wrong one is always a worry.  As I’d taken Friday afternoon off work there were no wall to wall crowds of people which also makes me feel very uncomfortable.  Phew!  Passport and marathon letter shown and woohoo, I had my number.  Chip collected on the way through to the exhibition.  The exhibition a thrilling mixture of corporate power from fitness companies, charities vying for funds and other marathons around the world.  Now I’m a very weak person when it comes to gadgets and fabulous discounts but other than the Brooks running shoe stand I found very little in the way of good value gear on offer.  I trawl the internet for bargains on a regular basis and after visiting the exhibition I’m very glad I do.  Most of the offers were for gear on offer at more expensive prices than their online stores from a month ago.  Sneaky!! I don’t like sneaky “Special Discounted Prices” that are more than the original price a month ago.  There were a couple bargains to be had around the latest running shoes that I couldn’t resist.  So yes, I am now the owner of two pairs of Brooks Ghost 6 running shoes.  Can’t have too many running shoes?  Can you?  Nah!!

Saturday I made sure I rested as much as I could.  So much so that I was in bed and solidly asleep by 11pm.  That’s early for me!  Which made waking up at 4:30am that much easier. 

Packed running bag, running outfit and shoes selected the night before to stop the early morning panic “have I got everything?” Out the door and walking into town for the 6am coach on time.  Nerves jangling away – will it be hot, how crowded will it be, toilets (oh jees, now I need the loo), traffic, will we get to the start in time, weather, am I wearing the right stuff, my shoes feel tight, did I pack my water bottle, watch, where’s the watch, got the watch, money, where’s the money, there’s the money, hair bands, ribbons, it’s too hot, I’m wearing too much, oh seriously, now it’s freezing cold, what the hell am I doing………….. you get the gist.  Brain melt down followed by bag rummaging for the hour on the coach. 

Quick change of plan as the coach stopped and said we needed to get off.  Do I take everything or leave stuff on the coach?  I took everything!  The walk to the start thankfully had portaloos along the way.  Phew!  That’s one worry out of the way.  Then the start.  It appeared to be sparse of people when we arrived and moving around was fairly easy.  As time marched on the blue start area where we were starting filling up with more, more, MORE people.  Sooo many people.  Then it’s drop off bags time and line up in the starting pens.  A chilling 20 minute wait after the start horns have sounded and we’re all moving towards the start.  At the moment it’s feeling like any other really crowded event.  Lots of people waiting their turn to run over the starting mat.  Then it’s my turn, it’s really happening, there’s crowds of people cheering us through the start gate.  More people a mile down.  More and more people at every mile, cheering, shouting, hooting, waving, high fiving, screaming and taking pictures of runners.  26.2 miles of cheering crowds.  There was simply no let up, no quite spot, no peace, no lull.  It was constant.  Moving you forward towards the finish.  The sheer number of runners along with the incredible amount of spectators was overwhelming.  I couldn’t stop grinning.  Random chatting with random runners was fabulous, everyone appeared to be so happy to be there. 

Reaching Tower Bridge had Julia and I jumping up and down waving our arms and screaming for joy, we made it half way.  WOOHOOO!!  It wasn’t long after Tower Bridge that it was obvious Julia had much more in her than I did.  She carried on and I started to walk/run after mile 14 – again!!  I was still happy with my time but it wasn’t tiredness that was killing my running.  My insides were churning like crazy threatening to explode as if I had an alien trying to escape.  The whole nervous excitement had gotten to my guts.  It didn’t dim the mood of the day at all though.  I carried on high fiving kids, costume spotting, bottle avoiding, landmark spotting and my favourite – cheer bombing.  Every now and again a crowd was obviously waiting for someone to cheer so I’d put my arms up and “WOOHOO!!!” runners beside me would hoot and then the roar of the crowd starting to cheer on runners again.  26.2 miles of cheering crowds.  How anyone had a voice left Sunday afternoon is amazing! 

The Walky Talky building, the Shard, Houses of Parliament – wait, that’s near the finish.  I’m near the finish.  This is the last couple miles.  I’m running and I just can’t stop.  It’s starting to hurt like crazy but there’s no way I’m stopping until I get to that finish arch that I’ve seen on telly so many times.  Jealously watching.  Wanting to run through that arch myself one day.  Thinking I’ll never be fit enough to run a marathon.  That’s for crazy people.  That’s for all those other people on the telly who have made it there.  Raising money and training hard.  Wait, that’s me.  I’ve run a marathon distance before, I know I can do it, I’m here running with all these other people, I’m running the London Marathon and I’m going to run through that finish arch just like all those people I’ve watched on telly.  It’s the last 100 meters and I’ve got the biggest grin on my face ever.  For the first time in a race I get to the finish and start jumping up and down woohooooing away.  Completely drunk on endorphins. 

The long walk to the bags was painful hahaha!! But I was one very happy girl. 

My only damper for the day was going the wrong way to get to the coach to get home.  Being completely drained I ended up panicking that the coach would leave without us.  An endorphin high will get me so far but crowds and crowds of people, a deadline to get to the coach and not knowing where the hell I am.  Perfect storm for one of my panic attacks.  Thank goodness I was with sensible people.  I’d have completely lost it if I was by myself.  Coach finally found and on our way home.  Wow what a day!! 

Leighton Fun Runners Coach – fabulous.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.  I don’t think I would have been able to cope with the London tubes or trains that day. 

Julia – What an amazing effort.  5hrs 3mins of awesomeness. 

London Marathon Marshals – you all did an absolutely amazing job and I would love to hug each and every one of you but that would take me until next year so instead – THANK YOU

To all the other fabulous runners who took part – you’re amazing.  You did it.  Massive sympathies to the family who lost a very special person that day. 

So – would I do it again?  No.  Don’t get me wrong.  I really enjoyed the day.  It was an amazing experience.  I doubt I will ever experience anything like that again.  The sights were amazing.  But I’m just not comfortable being completely surrounded by so many people.  7 hours of on the verge panic attack was a lot to handle and if I’d been there alone I would have walked away at the start. 

Roll on Friday where I run around a lake seven times for a spinning medal from Enigma Running. 

Happy running

Helen

2 comments

  1. Brilliant read Helen! We were there supporting and I’ve never experienced anything like it ! Really well done to you & hope you’ve recovered 🙂

    • Thank you. I really thought I’d be more tired by today but no. I don’t think I could have pushed for a quicker time though. It really is the most incredible experience. Amazing.

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