The little incline up to Westminster Bridge a place where coincidences are made. 2014, a young fella is walking up, he is a fellow Marie Curie runner with a picture of his Dad on his back. I pat him on the shoulder and as he turns I just say “He’d be proud of his son”, I get a thumbs up and see his head lift as I carry on by. 2018 a young (ish) fella is walking up, he is an RNLI runner, he has a picture of his Dad on his backpack, he feels a fleeting hand on his elbow and a fellow RNLI runner asks if he’s alright.
I come out of my thoughts and smile at Sarah (she had her name on her vest), “Yeah OK, how you doing?”, “I’m not sure I’m going to make it”. Of course you will I think and start to run along side her. She’s not in any distress physically, so I reckon it’s just in her head, we’ve all been there.
One mile to go, we’re side by side and running fluently (well more fluently than I have run in the past 15 miles). “Will you cross the line with me?” Sarah asks. Odd question I think, but then it dawns on me that this is a road race and people sometimes like to push on. “Of course”, we round the fountain. I ask “Left, middle or right?”. “What?”, I point to the finish line, she looks up and sees the finishing lanes, we decide on middle, we close the distance, I hold out my left hand, she takes it.
Across the line together. We’ve done it. The elation, the relief, the need to find shade, the medal, water, goodie bag, we part. That was a blooming lovely way to finish.
….what do you mean you want to know what happened in the other 25 miles! Oh well, here you go
My friend Mr Garmin decided to freeze at 06:35 displayed and for 30 mins I didn’t spot time had stood still, which meant a rushed leave from the apartment, not the calm plan I had in my head.
Meeting with HD and then Jim soon had me relaxed again. Lovely to enjoy and adsorb the event without so much of the nerves of “the unknown” of 2014. After a good time chatting with each other and passing folks near the red start Jim & I headed in.
A time to relax in a shady spot, tunes played to inspire and reflect. First tears of the day as I play the R4 UK Theme tune, visualising Dad making coffee on the boat in his blue Y fronts.
Into the pen and the wait and steady movement as for the first time we are released in waves, clearer roads ahead. A steady start shoulder to shoulder with Jim as we make are way through the first few miles, spot the first pint of the day around 10:30, reckon he was in for a long session.
Then those lovely surprises I’d forgotten. The booing at the joining followed quickly by the Japanese drumming under the flyover, what a noise a real boost.
Around 5 miles Jim and I parted as I felt like I wanted to push on just before the start of a planned walk break. Then came Cutty Sark, a sharp right and there it is, wind from the west, running on a port tack as we manoeuvre past her starboard side. ‘Ready about Dad’, ‘Ready’ then as we reach the bow, push the tiller far out to starboard, ‘Lee O’, let go the foresheet, mind the boom, haul in on the port side, tighten with the winch and jam in the cleat. Starboard tack on a broad reach as we scoot down her port side. Tears once more.
Through Bermondsy then on the lookout for my family at the corner as you turn towards Tower Bridge and there they are my sister and daughter too far back to hug, but further down Kim’s there with a kiss, cuddle and a bottle of cold flat coke.
There’s Tower Bridge, I walk, the legs need the break and so does my head, lots of emotions, all good and needed. The legs were flagging and the heat was getting to me, but round the corner I knew lay the best motivation.
I was so pumped up about seeing all the Buzzers that I let rip, from deep down it all came out and Vicki caught it beautifully.
As I headed into the Isle of Dogs I ate my freebie Soreen and then a stick of cucumber and two strawberries, later 3 grapes and over a few miles 4 orange segments, I shall create a new book and call it “The Very Hungry Marathon Runner”. I realised nipple protection had failed and with all the sweat chaffing around the backpack straps so a few stops at St John’s stations were required. They looked quite relieved when I just asked for Vaseline, I sensed they were having a busy day.
The RNLI cheer station at Canary Wharf helped spur me on through the dull miles ahead. It was all walk run now, managing the conditions. Then as I get to mile 22.5 I hear one of my favourite tunes – Just can’t get enough by Depeche Mode, that got me bouncing along. Then the most welcome speed camera in the world hove into view and with it came the hugs and kisses of the best bunch of nutters in the world. I love you guys.
I would have happily stayed for longer, but I knew I had to push on or never get it done. Tick off the miles now, sod that, tick off the half miles, through the underpasses then onto Embankment and the Tower lifeboat station, which we’d toured the day before. What a motivation that was.
With it came hugs from all the family and then onwards to Westminster…..
A lot of pent up emotion was released that day it was very cathartic, but also wonderful to share it with so many of you.
I won’t road run much anymore, but I’ll always make the exception for London, if she’ll have me 😊
It’s been great to be back on the trails, to see the wildlife once more (2 great spotted woodpeckers squabbling was a treat today). The focus has been on Guernsey which is now a week away, like London not as many miles in my legs as I would have liked, not as many stairs either, but it will get done for sure. I would say shoulder to shoulder with Jim, but given the narrowness of the path that might be a tad dangerous.
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