Good afternoon Realbuzz world.
I better start at the beginning. I set off to Londond on Friday after my last training run which was a very slow 3 miles just to feel like I had done something. I ran it slower than I have ever run anything before but the sun was shining and it was nice to gather my thoughts about what was going to be happening in the next couple of days.
My running buddy Becky and I travelled by train with her parents late Friday afternoon arriving in London about 8:30pm. We were staying at The London Bridge Hotel which was just as nice as we had expected and after a quick change the 4 of us headed to the Embankment which was a short walk away. It was very nice to sit and eat a meal looking at London Bridge all lit up. We both felt a mix of excitement and nerves as we discussed Sundays run and planned pace. We were both worried that we wouldn't be able to keep up with the other but as was the plan all along we knew that although it would be the icing on the cake to cross the start and finish line together we had to run our own races on the day. Becky and I only met less than 12 months ago after London 2013 when joined the running club which Becky was already a member. Some of you may recall a couple of my blogs from the early days of meeting Becky where the very strong friendship that we have now formed seemed very unlikely back then. However the past is the past and I consider her one of my best friends so running together on Sunday was going to be pretty special. After the meal we picked up a few bottles of water on the way back to the hotel and got ourselves to bed and asleep for around midnight. I slept surprisingly well on Friday night, the hotel was in a very quiet place with no road noise which I was relieved about. The only downside was it was very hot in the room and I woke up Sunday morning feeling really dehydrated.
Saturday morning we planned to visit the Expo and arrived there for about 10am. Registered spent a couple of hours and a small fortune in the expo. Has anyone tried the Torq gels? They were giving out samples and the Raspberry Ripple flavour is soooo nice. Stocked up on those and will be testing them out on my next long run. Obviously I stuck to the brand I am used to on Sunday.
Whilst on the way down to London we discussed our plans for Saturday and Beckys mum and dad surprised us with tickets for the theatre which was a really nice surprise. They wanted us to have something to do to take our minds off the nerves of the marathon as well as something where we weren't walking around. However this did mean I couldn't make the Realbuzz picninc which I was gutted about and I am sorry I didn't get to meet any of you.
So lunch and to The Savoy theatre was our Saturday afternoon before heading back to the Italian near our hotel that we had booked for Saturdays pasta feast.
Food eaten we were back in our hotel room and getting everything sorted for Sunday morning and in bed for 10pm with the alarm set for 6am. Somehow Becky managed to fall asleep straight away but I was wide awake and tossed and turned and got more and more worked up until past midnight. Once I did fall asleep I didn't wake again until the alarm went off and I woke up feeling pretty tense and achey after a pretty poor nights sleep. This lead to a nearly disasterous mistake. I always spray deep heat on my legs before races with no problems at all. I did this before dressing in my kit and because my back and shoulders were aching i decided to spray those areas too. BIG mistake. A few minutes later I commented that my back was burning up and asked Becky to have a look. As she did she took a rather large gulp of air and told me to get my vest off and lay on the bed on my front!! My back and neck were bright red and blistering. In places it had broken the skin. My first ever allergic reaction on the morning of The London Marathon. Excellent. Becky laid soaking wet cold flannels on me and had to keep changing them as my back was just warming them up. This went on for about 20 mins before it started to cool down by which time we really had to be leaving. Thankfully it did calm down before too muh longer. We said bye to Beckys mum and dad and headed to the the sation to catch the train to the green start. We were nervous but quite calm and we had left ourselves plenty of time. As we walked to the start area we commented on how warm it already was at 8:30am and we discussed making sure we kept well hydrated. The usual things at the start, 3 toilets visits, handing bags in and into the start area all went nice and smoothly. Nerves built as we stood waiting to set off and we shared a few hugs and wished each other luck.
We crossed the start line in 40 seconds but the start was very congested and it was quite difficult to get into stride for about the first 2.5 miles. I had set my Garmin to 7:45 min miles but I felt good and once into stride was comfortably running ahead of pace. I could tell Becky wasn't and at 5k I asked her if she wanted to slow down as we were ahead but she said no and to carry on. I pushed on and she fell back. For another mile I was looking back for her but we had been seperated in the crowds and I toyed with what to do. Should I slow down and hope she catches up or just keep going? The thing is we had both said to run our own race. To get a PB I needed to maintain the pace I was and I didn't want to finish feeling that I could have given more and I hoped Becky would be ok with this. I know I would have been happy for her to leave me if I was struggling. So although it wasn't what we hoped and it took me a while to adjust to having a lot of the race to run alone I knew it was what I had to do and come on this was The London Marathon... you are hardly alone. As like last year the crowds were phenomenal and I tried to soak up the atmosphere as much as I could. I knew the areas where my mum was going to be with my auntie (they had travelled down Saturday night to stay at my cousins) so I looked at the crowds for them but same as last year I didn't see them in any of the 3 places that they managed to see me. There were a lot of people shouting my name and I tried to acknowledge a lot because I just think it is amazing that so many people line the streets to support you and it really does help when it gets tough. And wow did Sunday get tough. I found it so much harder this year than last. Was it the heat? I certainly felt the sun got to me more. I took water from every water station and a lot of it was poured on my head and down my back to try and keep cool. I felt to be running strong and I knew I was setting a good time but the first time I started to worry was as early as mile 10. I had had some trouble with my calves in the few weeks leading up and I felt like they could cramp at anytime. Another reason I wanted to take plenty of water and regular gels in. I fought hard to keep all negative thoughts out and kept listening to the crowds. The bag pipes at 15km (i think) reduced me to tears and I had to compose myself. We had a piper at my grans funeral last year and this took me by surprise. I had to compse myself and turned it into happy thoughts of my gran and grandad on this sunny day. As I approached London Bridge I was excited as this was my favourite part of the run last year. I smiled and soaked up the incredible atmosphere and then I heard over anything else my name being shouted from the left. As I looked I saw Angus my York marathon running buddy and I was over the moon, waved and ran on. As I approached mile 14 the elite men were heading towards us on the other side so I was lucky enough to run a few feet away from Mo. After this a lot of it became a blur until Canary Wharf. Again I was really looking forward to this part as the crowds here are insane and Sunday didn't disappoint. I was struggling by this point, I felt disappointed and frustrsated as I knew my pace had dropped and my legs were really tired, much more tired than I had ever experienced before. I had to dig deep for the mental strength I knew I had and keep pushing in the hope of getting my sub 3:28 that I was aiming for. I knew that I was now off pace for 3:25 but still thought I could pull off a PB if I kept going. I think about the mile 25 point was where I saw Angus again and I even managed to smile (or i tried Angus) but again he helped get me through that last section. The last 800m seemed so long and I had nothing left to pick up the pace down that final section. Again feeling frustrated as I crossed the line in 3:28:02. Still it was a London PB by a chunk (last years time 3:34:46). At the time I also thought it was a marathon PB. In fact I thought this until Tuesday. For some reason I had got in my head that I needed to beat York time of 3:28:46 when in actual fact it was 3:27:46 so I was a few seconds over. GUTTED!!! However I think I know that for whatever reason I couldn't have pushed any harder on Sunday so I will be happy with my performance and work hard to run sub 3:25 with Angus in York in October. Cooler day, less congestion and Angus to pull me along I know I can do it!!
So back to Sunday. I crossed the finish line very relieved. There were times in the last 10k that I wanted to give up or have at least a walk but no way would I have been happy with myself if I had. I collected my medal and wandered along a little before turning to watch people come over the finish just preying that Becky was going to cross at any time. I stood for about 10 mins before I decided it was best to go to the arranged meeting place. I very slowly walked to collect my bag and off I went to the meet and greet area whilst enjoying a recovery drink. I was only there a few seconds before Beckys Mum and Dad came jogging over with big smiles and congratulations. They had been tracking us both and quickly told me that Becky was still running. I felt gutted for her and apologised to them. They told me not to be daft and that I had done the right thing. At this point i got another big cuddle from my mum who was close to tears, relieved I was in one piece and very proud. It didn't seem too long then before I spotted Becky hobbling towards us. After a hug from her mum she headed straight to me and we both burst into tears. Poor Becky had the biggest blister I have ever seen on the inside of her right foot and she was in agony with her hips. In this state she had unbelievably still managed 3:51. I was incredibly proud of her as she was of me. Becky had already decided pre London that Snowdon was going to be her last marathon as she is much better suited to short fast runs this is what she is going to concentrate on. She has now also decided after Sunday that she is no longer joining me for Snowdon. After getting the blister sorted at St Johns we slowly made our way to the tube and back to our hotel for a shower. They had kindly let us keep our room for after. We then had time for a refuel meal and bottle of Prosecco (lots of water too) before heading back to the train and a 4 hour journey home. This journey went pretty quickly as we talked about the weekend and the good time we had. I also had 53 messgaes and facebook posts to reply to. I felt incredible and truely humbled by the amount of support I had recieved throught the day whilst I was out running. It will definitely be a day I never forget.
So it is Thursday and apart from work and gentle walks I haven't done much this week. The stairs at work have been hell up and down to the stockroom and it is busy due to Easter hols. I have definitely recovered much quicker after both my previous marathons in fact both times I have been back running by Wednesday. No chance my legs feel like running this time and I think it is my body trying to tell me something. So although I have very itchy feet to exercise I am going to take this recovery very carefully and make sure all injuries have time to repair before I do anything too much.
Congratulations to all runners on Sunday, what an amazing achievement it is. I hope you are all recovering well and I hope that I do get to meet lots more of you at some stage.
Here is my run if anyone wants a look (i ran 26.46 miles too) http://connect.garmin.com/activity/481542761
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