Apologies its taken a while to post how the marathon went but honestly this is the first time I've had time to write anything since we finished.
That's right we finished the marathon so all that training was worth while!
Since the marathon we've actually been to Poland and back. Today in particular has been a long day as we woke up at 2:30am UK time in Poland to catch the red eye flight back to the UK only then to go straight from the airport to work. We must be mad I hear you cry; and you'd be spot on.
Anyway back to the marathon. Without going into the minute detail I'll take you through the critical build up and how the race went.
First thing to say is we headed to the Blue Start together in the hope I might manage to blag my way to the same start as Monika. It was quite important to me that we started together if at all possible but realised this was unlikely. When I rang the race organisers a few months ago I had been told under no circumstances would we be able to start from the same point as Monika was a ballot runner and I was a charity runner. Riciculous I thought (there must be a way around this)
As we got close to the actual start point it was obvious there was increased security as a result of the recent events in Boston. I was pretty certain we were going to fall at the first hurdle. Still I wouldn't have forgiven myself if we didn't at least try so we headed over to the start. Making a beeline for the youngest looking marshall we walked briskly in. He immediately asked me to show my running number so I lifted my fleece top to show the very bottom of my number thereby avoiding showing the fact it was a red number and that I should be starting from a completely different area. I carried on walking and he asked me to show the number again so I glanced back and semi-turned my body and lifted the fleece up again to show the bottom of the running number but kept on walking. With more people coming to the queue he waved me through.
Phew! The difficult part was over, or so I thought
Having now got into the Blue start I realised I was going to have to keep my fleece on till the start and take it off at the last minute to avoid being pulled from the start. We warmed up and then put my kit bag into Monika's and handed it over to be transported to the finish.
Twenty minutes to go and we headed over to the start. Those of you who have done the London Marathon will know that they stagger the start by putting runners into pens, (a bit like sheep), based on your typical or predicted marathon time. Monika was put into Pen 7 so we headed over and it soon became apparent that there at least 6 marshalls on each pen ensuring people were starting in their correct pen. Runners promoting or even demoting themselves were being told to go their correct pen so at this point I realised the game was up. Not only would they notice I was meant to be in Pen 5 they would also notice I was meant to be starting from the Red Start. We didn't really have a great deal of options so I had to improvise. Pens were created by 4 foot metal barriers on the sides so I decided to warm up against the barrier. I caught the eye of a runner inside the pen and explained the situation in simple terms and he and another runner blocked the view of the marshalls and I vaulted/scrambled over the barrier allowing Monika to then join me a few minutes later. I couldn't believe it - no marshalls saw me and against all odds we were going to start from the same place. It was a massive weight off my shoulders. You can even see that Monika seems realtively happy with the outcome too (see below)
A few minutes later and we were off. Starting at an excellent pace we were heading for a 4 hour marathon up until halfway. The sheer number of people running and the narrow streets in certain sections meant that quite a bit of weaving was required but generally we felt pretty good in the first half.
Our pace dropped somewhat in the second half, this was partly due to how warm it was, but it also as a result of the weaving and constant care required to avoid running on all the disgarded water bottles, lucozade and gel pouches. Monika was looking extremely relaxed and enjoying the carnival atmosphere that is unqiue to London. I think the sheer number of spectators, the famous landmarks and the amazing number of charity runners and charity supporting groups does make it a very special run. There is always something to look at and when you're feeling low hearing people shout your name really does give you that boost to help you. For me it was a very difficult run as my muscles were aching from mile 3 onwards. Fortunately I didn't have a recurence of the calf problem from the previous week but I never felt completely comfortable. I'm just thankful that I had Monika there to drag me round!
Seriously though we had some fantastic support from family and friends who made a lot of effort to see us in a number of locations on the route as well meeting up with us afterwards for a congratulatory and well deserved beer.
We finished with identical times 4 hrs 9 minutes and 11 seconds. Somehow Monika managed to finish 2 places in front of me - the cheek of it.
I would like to praise my wonderful wife for not only completing this amazing challenge on the day but for all the hard work done in training up to marathon day. When we first started Monika was still taking Chemotherapy for the treatment for her cancerous brain tumour but she has not let this stop her. Whilst the tumour has not been eradicated she refuses to get down about it and we stay positive that it will at worst stay stable, but hopefully even decrease or disappear altogether. What ever happens I know she is an inspiration to many people but no one more than me.
Well done Monika.
(My addition to the Adidas Boost inspiration wall at the Marathon Expo)
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