I’m still on a high from this. It was the start of what has been a brilliant week, and I am totally buzzing from a PB where I really was not expecting it. Caveat – 3 and a half hours seems to have blurred into about 10 minutes in my mind and therefore I keep forgetting who I saw where and what bits happened when so this write-up might not even be that good! I’ve also interspersed a few elite/celeb photos courtesy of my family (mainly because my mother wants me to marry Jenson Button which I feel might prove slightly difficult….)
After my last minute marathon prep, I woke up at 6, and managed to cross paths on the way to the bathroom with my sister, who was just coming home….and my parents were up shortly after to wish me good luck! Drove down to the station, parking super easy but the train was late AS USUAL THANKS LONDON MIDLAND.
Into Euston and then a quick hop down the Northern line to London Bridge and out to Maze Hill. I ate my bagel with peanut butter & banana at some point on this journey! It’s about a 10 minute walk UP A HILL to the green start, and obviously straight to the toilets. Had the usual chats with random people in the lines, with me explaining why I was still wearing my uni tracksuit bottoms despite having graduated 4 years ago…(they are super comfy and have really long zips up the sides so you don’t have to take your shoes off!) Bag drops well organised as per usual, but the second time toilet queue was just TOO long, so we all went and weed next to a tent. Super classy. Listened to the Paula announcements. Thought about how amazing she is. Hopped into my pen. Had a gel. I am one of these clever people who doesn’t own any form of race belt and I like to carry all my gels in my hand.
And we’re off! Shuffle forwards a bit, a bit more and then start running. I think I was over the line in about a minute and a half, one of the great benefits of the green start. I did run past a man with a basketball (the noise of which would have driven me MENTAL!) and there was also a giant dinosaur. I feel like the first few miles are a bit blah – the main thing I remember is it being super crowded, moreso than it felt last time and especially at the green/blue merge (record numbers will do this though I guess!) and everyone shouting HUMP really loudly. I passed Greg James at some point here.
There are some downhills over the first few miles and I did try and rein myself in, telling myself it would probably hit me later (it did!) but didn’t really do a great job of it.
The crowds were fabulous as usual – I tend to have certain places where I need music (boring Isle of Dogs I am talking about you) but a lot of the time the crowd are so loud and fantastic that you don’t need anything! I passed Iwan Thomas literally at EXACTLY the same place (either Woolwich or Deptford, as they both feel about the same!) as I passed him a couple of years ago – except this time he had Jenni Falconer with him rather than Sophie Raworth! I feel like I had a gel after about 50 minutes. Gloves got thrown away in Deptford (again, could have been Woolwich…) as my hands got warm despite the fact that about 5 fingers were missing the tips (not because I was prepared and bought fingerless gloves, just because I have a tendency to wear gloves with holes in them!)
Cutty Sark I overtook a man dressed as Carmen Miranda. I also ran quite a few miles just by Fred & Wilma. Also, note to self – if you don’t have your name on your top, it is a really good idea to run just in front of someone who happens to have the same name as you! I spotted my cross-country buddy Claire somewhere along the way (maybe Deptford!) and then caught up with the fam (my sister had had an hour or so of sleep and still made it there) – and I love that my dad has also managed to get a Decathlon sign into this photo (because we all know how much we love Decathlon)
Tower Bridge was awesome as per usual, but it was only around mile 12 where it stopped being such a squash of runners – people were darting left right and centre without looking, and I shared a fair few eye-rolls with some fellow marathoners. The elite men came past on the other side of the road when I was at about 13 and a half. The right turn through Wapping is great (lots of cheers!) but I get seriously BORED going around the Isle of Dogs & Millwall. But I was expecting this, because it was the same as last time.
There was a little re-jigging of the route around here and a few bits felt like it was just adding on a loop for the sake of it. This is my least fave bit of the race and it just made it EVEN worse. Luckily, around here I saw my club twice (just before the tunnel at Westferry on the way out, and then again on the way back – you are all stars, especially inflatable Ingrid in her club kit) and my family around mile 18. Missed out Kate but even she can’t shout loud enough to drown out a samba band by the sounds of things…..
After 21 it all became a bit of a struggle. I tried to have another gel but it just tasted gross by then so I threw the last 2 away (I know I know, I should have forced it down but I did steal Haribo from a small child at Tower Gateway just to see if it was easier…but they still tasted gross and that is weird because I LOVE Haribo)! The splits will show that it was a bit of a dive, but the best feeling ever was ‘oooh I can run 9 minute miles now and still get a GFA’, followed by ‘ooooh I can run the last few miles at 10 minute miles and STILL get a PB’. I just focused on the end and the PB, and actually only had a ‘I could walk now’ moment once. Again, kept seeing random people from work and running club, so thank you all for the support!
Here is me looking at Garmy (probably calculating how slowly I could run…)
Just after 25, one of my friends ran past me! Totally didn’t expect to see him – plus he looked way more spritely than me so I didn’t even try and keep up… Turned the corner at the Houses of P (after the dreaded incline) and saw another friend from work and then one of my BFFs standing on the corner of Parliament Square (I’m looking forward to supporting her first half marathon in a few weeks!) Birdcage Walk seems to go on for MILES (and is clearly an absolute sufferfest for a lot of people) but before I knew it it was the turn, under the walkway and BOOOOOOM I could see the finish!
It was then over, checked my watch and well, it was then just over. I’m not sure if it was more just relief or elation, but I’d knocked about 2.5 minutes off my PB, got my GFA for next year and also I can now enter Boston. Saw a few more people in the finish funnel, found my dad and my sister. Went to M&S and stocked up on chocolate milk and percy pigs aka perfect post-marathon fuel, got the train home (also, no-one on the tube offered me a seat? Rude!), jumped in the shower, finished packing and then headed to the airport! (Note, I did then eat an entire bag of jelly babies once I arrived in Hamburg, because that constitutes an acceptable dinner right?)
My aunt was still running but unfortunately because I had to fly, I couldn’t stay and watching which was frustrating as she was a super supporter last time I ran it – she came round in a cracking 5.57 for her first marathon, and I’m so proud of her because she was SO worried about the whole thing. My mum hopped over the barriers and ran down Birdcage Walk with her and said that she just couldn’t believe the atmosphere, which I told her is just the magic of London.
London, as ever, you were fabulous. The crowd was fabulous, the organisation was fabulous, the other runners were fabulous. I’m so happy to have been a part of it. Thank you London, thank you Paula, thank you everyone who told me to get a move on, to stop worrying and who has had to deal with my smug face this week.
PS my official photos are hideous. 100% not showing them. (They might be floating around Twitter a bit…)