Well that's it. My 6th 'London' Marathon is in the bag and the medal is in the post. As I sit here licking my numerous wounds, it is without the recollection of the atmosphere, the sights & sounds and the emotions that a supportive London crowd brings. For this time, my London Marathon was virtual and a relatively lonely affair.
I realise I could've picked absolutely anywhere to do my virtual marathon but the familiarity of my local area (coupled with the available assistance with just one phone call) won the day.
The stop-start, will it-won't it nature of this year's training meant that both myself and my marathon partner (a first time marathoner) elected to walk, feeling we weren't capable of going the distance at jogging pace. As I suspected (having some marathon experience) this did not turn out to be the easy option.....far from it! People always tend to assume that walking some (or all) of a marathon to be some sort of failure but it really isn't. The extra time on your feet required when walking really takes its toll.
So at 4.30 am on race day I awoke to go through my usual marathon ritual; breakfast, stretches, nervous sh*ts and VASELINE....lots of vaseline. Walking or not, this was going to be a punisher and I laid everything out the night before to make things easier at stupid o'clock.
With my routine complete and no sign of sunrise, it was time to head off to my friend's house and startline for our planned 6am start. Proudly sporting my MDUK colours, the worthy charity that would benefit from this ache-fest.
Normally I would regale you with my tales of London; the start line atmosphere, the music, the cameras, the sights, the sounds but this year (depressingly) all of that was missing courtesy of the fun hoover that is Covid-19. At 12.5 miles where I would've just seen my family and turned a corner to the grand sight of Tower Bridge there was this....a windswept country road:
Far less impressive but at least I did still have a smile on my face, as did my friend:
Still enjoying his first marathon and still saying things like, 'this isn't as bad as I thought'.....and it wasn't BUT I knew things were about to get a whole lot worse. I just didn't have the heart to burst his bubble. I wanted him to stay positive for as long as he could.
At around 14 miles (a little earlier than I anticipated) things started to unravel and the enormity of what we were doing became apparent. This was no walk in the park and our 16 minute mile fast walk gradually slipped in line with our fading energy. Occasional visits from family & friends boosted our morale but by mile 21 my friend was in real trouble and our pace slowed considerably. That's not to say I wasn't struggling....because I was. This had become a fight to reach the finish line but with every minute our pace slipped, the finish line got further and further away (in timescale). Checking my watch and making this realisation was soul destroying but we HAD to keep going and keep going we did.
At mile 24 (with pains almost everywhere) a belief we could make it started to take hold but there was no spring in our step. The spring had sprung and it was a monotonous one foot in front of the other slog, now dealing with an unwelcome increase in heat as well (thanks British weather!).
By mile 25 we were at a snail's pace, the finish line seemingly moving away from us but at least now, now we knew we could make it so some relief came over us. Just without the cheering Embankment crowds that would normally spur us on at this stage.
Courtesy of the London Marathon app, an underwhelming text message heralded our arrival at the finish line; 9 hours, 2 minutes and 17 seconds after our early morning start. The 8 hour target having long since become a distant memory. BUT we did it. We may have been riddled with injuries, blisters and regret BUT WE DID IT!!
Every marathon is a learning curve and this one no less so. Those lessons being; walking a marathon is not an easy or viable option and that I also need to train harder for 2021 when I hope that the world is largely Covid free and I can to return to the London Marathon that I know and love.
Thanks for all the tremendous support, messages and donations. If you haven’t donated (and would like to) you can do so here:
Keep smiling and keep on moving!
@tubbyrunster (Insta & Faceache)
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