Sunday was going to be my third London Marathon and (who knows) my last.
I got up at 5am to begin preparations for getting to the coach at Sandhurst Library. First thing, porridge, banana, black coffee, then on to the marathon bag (everything seems to have the word ‘marathon’ attached to it on marathon day. Whoops, there I go again!) stuff extra shirts, phone, money, snacking bits into it, check ‘Heads Together’ head-band is on head and we’re off in the car with a ‘freshly woken’ wife. Dropped off 5 minutes later and we all pile onto the Marathon Coach, ready for the off, scheduled for 6:30am. After a nice, chatty ride into London it was time to disembark the coach and search out a portaloo!.. The time was now 8am. Marathon start, 10am.
After meeting up with my running buddy from another club (not sure if I am allowed to mention anybody from other running clubs, so let’s just call him Dave from Cove Joggers) we ended up prepping together at the ‘Red’ Start and entering the ‘winners pen’ that it number 5!.. Who knew!..
Boom! We were off!..
Everybody shuffled forward a foot, then back to standing still again. A young lad (he was probably in his 20’s, LOL) next to me said ‘Have we started now?’ with those wide-eyed, innocent looking faces these kids have today and I had to tell him to not start his running watch just yet as we were still quite a way from the start line! Bless!..
So, about ten minutes later we finally made it over the starting mats and could press ‘start’ on our running watches. Whahey! This was it! Hoping to run around that magical 4hr mark, I could now try and get into a rhythm which would take me gloriously over that finish line, arms in the air, basking in the glory that is a 4hr marathon, nothing was going to stop me or slow me down, this was it!.. Ooh look! A portaloo!.. I really had to go either now, or hold it in for the final 25.2 miles, so popped in for a quicky. Resuming the race I was soon through the first hurdle, the 1 mile arch…
Now the ‘race’ was truly underway and I could finally settle into my running rhythm and begin to feel how I was doing. I find that running is meditative so your thoughts can flow, but sometimes I need to check-in with my body to see how I am doing and this time I felt fine. My other outings here had not particularly gone well so the aim for Sunday was to run conservatively to keep me from falling apart from 20 miles on as it is still a 10K after that. My breathing was good, posture good, (not slouching, but running tall) legs ticking along quite nicely. Half way suddenly appeared and all was going well. A quick check of the watch, around about 2hrs! Difficult to know for sure due to the number of timings mats, all designed to catch you as you pass over them, in case one is not enough I guess. Funnily, looking at the results afterwards I was 2hrs to the second at 13.1 miles!..
There wasn’t much more to report after that, one more stop to answer the call of nature (I really did have to go actually and so joined the rest of the guys, watering a random hedge somewhere on the course) I happened to see some SJs supporting us and gave me a huge lift when I needed it, so thanks for that!
I also saw Steve Smith and he definitely saw me!.. Ummm!..
I did struggle at a few points but, unlike last time at London, I managed to rally myself and get a second wind, then a third wind etc… The run-through showers were great, water at every mile was very much appreciated beyond 20 miles and I just pushed on and on. From 24 miles I was looking out for my family, so spend a mile or so staring wide-eyed at the crowd as I ran past, probably freaking them out just a little, then (as always happens with these things) just as I was about to give up hope, I saw my wife and son and so exited stage right, putting a little spurt on. I felt so good at this stage that, after a hug and kiss times two, I was off down the road with renewed energy, nothing was going to stop me now and, luckily, nothing did! I loved the last mile, this time I could drink in the atmosphere and take in the sites of the Mall, absolutely brilliant. Finishing strongly over the line I had the choice of either getting a medal from the Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge, get myself on TV… or head to the right and get a medal from the best running club in the world. No second thoughts, and even managed to persuade the lovely Claire Hobson to present me with my medal and a sneaky hug for luck!