What an emotional rollercoaster, this is what running London does to you. From highs to lows to nerves & emotion it had it all.
The weekend started with a lunchtime trip down to London with Mrs S, & my Father & Brother-in-law. We approached Kings Cross just before 2pm & made our way to our hotel in Southwalk.
We decided on a relaxing afternoon just taking in the sights of the shard, then heading off to Westminster to take in the atmosphere before race day & visualising running down the embankment for one last time. We then headed back to the hotel bar for drinks (for me it was a pot of tea) to watch the footy & rest up before an early tea.
My usual marathon routine was in full swing & everything was set up ready for the morning, this was one less thing to worry about. I felt quite calm before bed & I had a really solid nights sleep in preperation for my early start at 6am.
Marathon morning arrived & I managed a good breakfast of porridge, banana & a piece of toast with jam. After regular toilet stops (won't go into detail) we checked out of the hotel & made our way along with 36,000 other runners to Greenwich.
Mrs S & the in-laws decided not to travel all the way to Greenwich as we knew how busy the DRL is on marathon day & the long walk to the start area. We said our goodbye's at Canary Wharf & I made the long walk to the start. The walk to the start was interesting as all the conversations around me were about how their training had gone, what to expect, how they feel, when they were going to take their gels etc etc. There was so much nervous tention in the air, which I had never really listened into before as I was always with my family. This relaxed me as I knew that I wasn't the only one feeling self doubt & that others around me were all in the same situation.
As I made my way to the red start all my memories of previous London Marathons started flooding back, this felt like my final walk & I was feeling emotional as London has always held a special place in my heart, as this is what got me into running in the first place, watching this iconic race on the telly way back in 2010 promising my son that I would run this race before my next birthday, & here I was embarking on my third & final London Marathon which has given me so much. WOW!!!
After a quick toilet stop I phoned home to speak to my parents & my two boys, who both wished me luck & they couldn't wait for Daddy to bring them home a nice shiny medal again, I held back the tears, told them I loved them & that Daddy would do them proud. I took one last look at the red start sign took a deep breath & walked through.
After dropping my bag off I wanted to see if I could grab this opportunity to finally meet some Realbuzzers. I texted Vin, who said he was at the baggage area, by this time I was near my starting pen, so we arranged to meet at the water station before the start. I couldn't see him & we missed each other, so as I made my way into my pen I spotted this bright orange wig coming towards me.....it was VIN!!!! Finally I met a legend a true legend on Realbuzz I was buzzing!!! We had a brief chat & grabbed a photo, then to my surprise over came Jane (run with roxy) & Dave (DCW). I couldn't believe that I had waited so long to meet some of the Realbuzz gang & here I was with three amazing people who I have followed for the past 18 months. I was gutted that the meet was so brief as we had to go our seperate ways to our pens. But I could have talked to the guys for ages.
Me & Vin must have some great taste, as we joked that we both had the same water bottle. lol!!!
As I made my way to pen 5 I was looking out for my pace marker (3.56) , who was Andy Dixon the editor of Runners World Magazine. I thought if I stick with him as long as possible then I was in with a great shout of smashing my PB.
I felt good, relaxed & ready to go. As the gun went off I looked to the skies closed my eyes & just collected my thoughts for the challenge ahead. It took me just over 8 minutes to cross the start line & then I was off, off on my quest to finally break my sub 4 hour marathon time & end London on a high.
As the miles clocked off I felt in great shape & I had time in the bank to achieve my time with ease. My injury felt ok, but kept giving me warning signs that it was still there, but the adrenalin kept this at bay. I made my way past Cutty Sark & was shocked in how quickly I was here. I didn't have much congestion this time around & got into my stride quite quickly. I was very confident & felt this was my time & it was meant to be.
As the miles counted down, I heard the usual bands & incredible support along the route & then I knew Tower Bridge was getting close, the noise was becoming louder & my heart started to race, like I had just had a shot of adrenalin rush through my veins. As I turned the corner I took a deep breath & tried to capture this amazing spectical for one last time. I felt like I was running on air, this is the drug that keeps me coming back, this incredible iconic scene which will always live long in my memory. To make this moment even more special I heard a loud cry of 'SHING!!!!' coming from the croud on my left, as I turned & looked it was Angus, the great Angus who had helped me with his training plan & supported me & other realbuzzers to succeed in their marathon ambitions. INCREDIBLE!!!
As I passed the half way point I phoned Mrs S, who I knew was waiting for me at Canary Wharf, to tell her that I was on my way, she told me where she would be so I knew I would see her, this gave me the drive to push through miles 14-18. I had the gels & my own SOS drink as practiced in training & felt strong.
As I hit Canary Wharf the noise is always loud as all the tall buildings rebound the noise. I was looking out for Mrs S & as I turned the corner there she was. I gave her my water bottle, which I didn't need anymore, a kiss & I was off. Our next meeting would be at 25 miles opposite Big Ben.
I pushed on through 18-21 taking in the incredible atmosphere always keeping my pace maker in eyes view, I knew I was on for my finishing time, then as I approached the water station..................................................................DISASTER!!!!! Within a split second, my goal was out of the window, my fairytale ending had gone, time felt like it had frozen for that split second. This was all down to me trying to avoid all the hundreds of water bottles dropped on the road from the water station. I got held up at the side of the road with people trying to grab water, so I jumped over the bottles on the floor, not judging this correctly I landed on a bottle which turned my ankle. The pain was incredible it stopped me in my tracks, for a split second I thought I had broken it, but after stopping by the railings to access the damage it was nothing more than a sprain or a tweaked tendon.
Because I stopped I felt the lactic acid build up in my quads & my nemisis had returned with full force. I had really bad cramp not to mention a vrey sore & painful ankle. 'What now?' I thought, as I saw my marathon dream fading away. I could hardly walk & a marshall came over to see if I was OK. I was quite short with him, but this was down to frustration, frustration in the fact that all of my hard work & dedication had disappeared in a split second. He told me to keep moving, keep working the legs, this became a challenge, just to walk let alone run!!!
I phoned Mrs S to tell her that I might be sometime before she sees me as I am in pain & I might not finish, she felt very emotional & wanted me to be safe. As I walked through the 23 mile marker I knew I had to finish this & not give in, I started to think of all the Hollywood sayings, of all you realbuzzers who push your body to the limits & more, I started to think about my family & my boys & about all the sacrifices I have put them through while I have been training. I collected my thoughts in the Lucozade Tunnel & pushed on through the Embankment, tuning into the croud shouting out my name, as they could see I was in pain. As I saw Big Ben on the horizon I knew I was nearly there, I knew that I would see Mrs S this drived me on.
Big Ben didn't feel like it was getting any closer, the pain was making me sick, just one more step, that's what I kept telling myself, as Big Ben approached I turned the corner & I heard the cry from my rock Mrs S, I went over for a final embrace, but to be honest I felt so spaced out I didn't really know what was going on, she said 'Just keep going, your nearly there'.
I saw the red signs in the distance '600 metres to go', then the queens pad came into view, I was there I had made it. This was the hardest thing I had ever done in my life, my hardest challenge ever, I had to dig deep down into my sole to finish this & although I didn't achieve my fairytale ending I was proud of what I had achieved in such unfortunate circumstances. My offical time was 4.16.57, so my PB of 4.13.28 set last year, will be my best London Marathon time.
As I reflect on what might have been, I look back on what I have achieved. In my three London Marathons I have raised over £6,000 for my charites & helped children either through their disabilty or to tackle childhood cancer. I have learnt so much about myself in my short running career & I want to thank my family for all of there continued support especially Mrs S (Lynsey) who has been by my side in each of my three marathons, cheering me on from the sidelines.
I will take a break from marathons for a while, yes I will continue to run & do half marathons & blog from time to time. My next marathon will hopefully be Edinburgh next year, where I will try to achieve my sub 4 hour dream, but as for London you will hold some magical memories & my dream is to come back one day and maybe who knows what story will be told...............................................................maybe just maybe.
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