13th April 2014
Greenwich Park – The Mall
Race report by Kelly
You either love it or hate it. I know many people list ‘finishing the London Marathon’ at the top of their race bucket list, yet others state it would be their worst nightmare. Well, despite it clearly not being a trail race, I wanted to do it. The ballot kept saying no. Then earlier this year I found out I had a place through Westbourne Running Club and finally, for 2014, it was on.
Anyone who knows me will of course know the next part. Yup, injury strikes. I don’t think I run like a crazy lady but honestly I must have some kind of strange running gait or maybe just a natural aversion to running because I AM ALWAYS INJURED!!! So I limped around the Bournemouth Bay Half and then took a couple of weeks off with a few visits to my physio Peter thrown in. I didn’t make a decision about running London until the day before (admittedly partly because I had booked a hotel for the wrong night, found out there were rubbish bus replacement services on the train line and had no one to dog sit). Then on Saturday morning I found a last minute hotel, a last minute dog sitter and decided to drive up to the Expo. Tip – time your toilet break just before the next DLR arrives and not just after.
Sunday morning, fantastic weather, leg feeling rubbish. I made my way to the blue start with 20 minutes to drop off my bag and wander down to the start pen. My last road marathon was New York in 2011 so it felt strange to be lining up again for such a big race. We saw the elites set off on the big screen and then seconds later we were moving. If felt like a wooden oar had replaced my right leg but I tried very hard to ignore it and run has normally as possible. I stayed by the side; the amount of a people who started shouting my name was amazing. You really do feel like a superhero. The 3.30 pacers passed me, I’ll have to wait another day for that one, and I tried to settle down. After a mile my leg completely eased up. I’m not sure if my brain won the fight or the ibuprofen kicked in, probably a bit of both. This was good news. I ducked into a loo I saw with no queue at about mile 2 and as I opened the door I saw the 3.45 pacer pass. This man was going to get me around.
I really enjoyed the next few miles, the crowds were great and the weather was awesome. I decided to put one earphone in just to try and keep a bit of a rhythm with some music. I know this probably sounds like a travesty to some but it really helps me. However, I was completely gutted to realise I had picked up the wrong headphones which I had accidentally washed the previous week. All I could hear was an annoying buzz.
I didn’t seem to take too long to get to Tower Bridge but as we ran up the tiny incline to the middle, I started to feel really tired and hot. I pushed on through the crowds and past the BBC commentators waiting to pounce on runners for an interview. This was not good. Another few metres, past the 20km and then half marathon point and I realised I had actually hit the wall. This early on!!! Clearly my lazy training before injury and complete lack of afterwards was coming back to bite me. Without my music to at least try and push me on I felt awful. A temporary reprieve came seconds later when I saw a couple of the elites and then Mo Farah run past the other way. The cheer was incredible and gave me a little boost. I knew that Kris and Amy were with the London Fire Brigade volunteering at the mile 20 water station so I kept thinking, if I can just run to them, then I can walk the rest and it’ll be ok. Each mile around the Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf felt dreadful. People were calling my name and I tried to give everyone of them a thumbs up or nod of the head but it was hard. Just after mile 19, the last 3.45 pacer ran past. I tried to stick with him but my legs felt like jelly and I just couldn’t push any harder.
Then mile 20 came and I saw Kris with Amy on his shoulders, they looked really excited and happy that I had made it that far. I had to keep running. This was only a 10k right? I have a favourite 10k route at home so I visualised I was running that. Mile 21, ok I’m getting there, 22 and 23 went by in a blur. Mile 24, now I was on home turf. Having lived in central London for a few years, I had run this section many times. I picked up the pace a little, and even turned up the buzz in my headphones so I could just make out a beat. Westminster came and went, then I was on Birdcage Walk. This seemed longer than I remembered, but I knew if I just kept running I would be on for a sub four hours. The corner came, a sea of runners were in front of me and I couldn’t even hear the crowd anymore. A few paces more and then, done, finished. Deep breath.
I finished in 3:54:48, a PB for me. It’s not fast to most of my running friends but I am not fast and I clearly remember my 11 minute/ mile days, so averaging 8 minute anything miles for a whole marathon is unreal to me!
It was a great experience. Tough. I’m not sure if I would do it again as I’m still more of a fan of mountain trails but whenever I watch it on TV from now on, I know I have finished it. The highlight of my weekend, though, was hearing about how Amy and Kris helped out at the water station and how Amy tried to give Mo Farah a veggie sausage as he ran past. Amazing. We’ll make a runner out of her yet! 🙂