Spirit of London

Posted on: 03 May 2018

London marathon 2018.  Wow what an incredible day and weekend.  My 3rd London marathon and memories to treasure forever.

Before I write about the weekend in more detail I’ll backtrack to where I was up to in my last post.  I’d just done 16 miles of the Manchester Marathon as a training run for London.  I had been very poorly in the week leading up to it but felt better on the day so decided to go for it.  In hindsight it seems that I’d either wrongly convinced myself that I was better; or that by running 16 miles I’d made myself ill again as by later the same day I felt absolutely awful....and continued to do so all week.  I’ve been having a ridiculously busy few weeks at work so there was no question of taking time off to get better.  I didn’t do any runs during that week as I felt so crap but decided that I should be OK to do my 9/10 miles by the weekend.  This run started off great, however, after around 4-5 miles I felt weak and pretty awful.  The second half was therefore pretty miserable.  My hip and calf problems were now absolutely fine so I was frustrated that  I still hadn’t got a decent run in.

I had a week to go until London so decided to concentrate on getting myself fully well.  I’d say that by about the Friday before I finally felt that the cough had gone from my chest and I felt as ready as I’d ever be for London.

David of course on the other hand had already had to defer which was such a shame.  I’m sure he won’t mind me saying that he’d been pretty miserable about the situation with his knee and yet he still came along to support me and the other Buzzers.

We didn’t get into London until around 2 p.m. on the Saturday so had to head straight to the expo to get my number.  I had a reasonable nights sleep considering that it was the London marathon.  I felt sick with excitement and nerves so trying to get my porridge down was a struggle but after that and a quick cup of tea we were off!

The lovely Hollywood said that he would meet us at the entrance to the red start so that he could see me before I went in and that he and David could then get to the mile 22.5 supporters spot.  I had planned to get there for around 9.00 a.m. However we had to change trains at London Bridge and it was absolutely rammed.  The entire station was full of people just  trying to get up the escalator onto the platform to get the train.  We must have stood there for at least 30 minutes in the end and I was starting to question if we were ever going to get there.  Anyway in the end we managed to get a train and before we knew it I was getting a quick hug from Hollywood  in Greenwich and a final kiss from David and I was in the starting area.  I barely had time to drop my bag and have a wee before the National Anthem was playing and I was over in the starting pens.

A few days earlier I had been in touch with another Buzzer Simmy and we’d talked about how great it would be to run some miles together.  The slight complication with this idea was that she was starting from the blue area - we had no  real control over when we’d get over the starting line....and we’d never met each other before!  I’ve seen pictures of Simmy on Facebook and we told each what we’d be wearing.  We agreed that we’d both start off at just under 10 minute miles in the hope that we’d get to the merge point of the two starts at around the same time.  We joked about how it would be a minor miracle if we actually got to meet up.

I made a point of taking in the occasion  as we set off.  This is the London marathon and it’s amazing!!

I also refused to make the same mistake that I’d made last time and that’s weave in and out of people to try and take over them - I was in no rush.  I felt very comfortable in those first few miles and had to slow myself down to make sure that I didn’t go off too fast.  My training obviously hasn’t been the best and the heat...oh my goodness it was brutal.  I had no idea how it was all going to go so my only target was to get to half way on an average of 10 minute miles (by 2.11) and then run/walk or do whatever I needed to do in the second half just to finish. 

We came to the bit where the two starts merge at 3 miles and I started getting ready to look out for Simmy.  And immediately I saw her!!..at least I thought it was her.  She was  about 15-20 feet ahead of me and I could see that she was looking over for someone.  I shouted her name but she was just a little too far away so I had to speed up for a minute or so to get to her and shouted her again.  And sure enough she turned round!  Who’d have thought we could have found each other so effortlessly amongst 40,000 runners!! That’s realbuzz determination right there.

We ran together very comfortably chatting a little and enjoying the atmosphere.  Simmy was happy to run at my pace and it was going well.  But by about 8 miles I started to struggle quite badly.  The heat played a big part I’m sure.  We took a couple of short walk breaks but I kept running as much as possible, albeit slowly.  Simmy started to pull away occasionally then would wait for me to catch up.  She insisted that  she didn’t mind and would rather have company than go faster on her own but I was starting to feel bad for how much I was holding her back.....I disappointed with myself that I’d flagged so soon.  Quite a few negative thoughts started to creep in now which was not good as I was only 10-11 miles in and had been determined that I was going to enjoy it.  Somewhere between 11 and 12 miles I couldn’t see Simmy any more.  At that point I was feeling comfortable with letting her go so that I could wallow in my own feelings of uselessness and do my own thing without feeling guilty.   I knew now that it was going to be a long, tough day and any targets were out the window.

By now I was coming close to Tower Bridge.  Thankfully I managed to slap myself out of my negative thoughts.  It was the London marathon ; it was bloody hot and it genuinely didn’t matter how long it was going to take.  And then I turned the corner and there it was....  Even though this is the 3rd time in London turning that corner and seeing the bridge before me took my breath away.  It’s  obviously beautiful and of course there’s the sheer volume of supporters. 

Also I  knew that once I turned the corner off Tower Bridge there was something even more special in store - the real buzz support crew would be on the other side of the road.  I remembered to stay near the middle and when I saw them I stood waving like a lunatic until they saw me.   

It was such a boost to see the Buzzers.  I knew that I would count down the miles before I could collect my hugs.  I continued to remind myself how lucky I was to be there and felt sad for the numerous people who I saw collapsed on the side of the road - presumably with the heat.

A blister had been brewing on my right toes for a couple of miles and not long after I saw the Buzzers I also saw some St John’s Ambulance people with vaseline.  Well it was quite a feat (excuse the pun) trying to get vaseline on my toes when I was so tired.  Just getting down to sit on the floor to take my trainer off was hard enough but it took a lot of physical and mental strength to get back up again!

I was still taking walks breaks which by now seemed to be getting longer and slower.  Then by around mile 15 I seemed to find something in myself and just stopped walking.  From  that point on I hardly walked at all.  I was running very slow but I was running.  I’ve since checked my splits and sure enough the second quarter was my slowest in the whole run and my 5k splits gradually got quicker after the 20-25k split.

Did anyone mention that it was hot??!!  There were extra showers on the course; we went past I think 2 fire stations who had hoses rigged up spraying water our; spectators had water sprays.  Every bit of water was a blessed relief. 

I counted down the miles until mile 22.5 (or mile 23 as it turned out to be on my garmin by then).  I can’t tell you how much it helped me through those hard miles knowing that the Buzzers would be there.  It’s the perfect place to stand as I knew that once I’d past you all the final part would seem manageable.  And bless you all for happily hugging a sweaty weary runner!

The final stretch after this was physically tough but I was feeling better now than I was at 8-12 miles.  Blackfriars tunnel was absolute bliss as it was lovely and cool - and quiet!  And then of course there is  nothing like that last couple of miles down the Embankment and birdcage walk and then the final stretch along the Mall.  I remembered to take a good look at Buckingham Palace as I passed it; and to soak in the atmosphere and joy of that final stretch where the finish line beckons.

I was overwhelmed when the medal went round my neck and was close to tears every time a random kind volunteer congratulated me.

I was finally reunited with with David (and Gaelle was coincidentally with him waiting for her friends).  The first thing I wanted to do was change into my flip flops and stretch my calfs.  Once I’d done these two things I felt remarkably fine.  No chaffing , no soreness, no blisters (thanks to the vaseline stop).  Everything was fine (probably because I'd run so slowly),  Except for what happened next.  I stubbed my toe against someone else’s trainer whilst we were trying to get out of the meet and great area.  It pulled up the big toe nail on my left foot and it was absolutely agony!  It was no question the most painful thing that had happened to me all day!

And then of course there was the post run pint of cider with the wonderful bunch of people I am proud to call my friends...

By the time I got home that evening and got into the bath the only thing that was painful was the toe nail!!  And that’s pretty much how it was all week.   It's been very badly bruised under the toenail. Even putting socks on was painful.  I had to take slippers into work for the first couple of days to wear when I wasn’t seeing clients!  I must win an award for the most ridiculous injury after I’ve finished running!

So once again the London marathon did not disappoint.  There is no other marathon like it.

My first run since London was parkrun last Saturday with an extra 0.6 miles added on to make it 3.7 miles. 

It’s ironic that now my training and marathon is over my injuries are absolutely fine.

So what’s next?  Snowdonia of course!  David and I have joined a gym  and I’m going to spend the summer getting as fit as possible before I get stuck into some serious hill training.

...And I need to do some serious catching up on Realbuzz!

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