It’s been a couple of weeks now since the London Marathon, and I have been meaning to write a post about it. This marathon was my 3rd, and my 1st one at London. It certainly had a big build up to it, whilst I raised all important funds for Macmillan Cancer Support. I had a lot of fun fundraising, and surpassed the target I had set, so I am over the moon. As well as loads of amazing donations from friends and family, I put on lots of events to make sure I hit my target. At work, I held a bake-off and cake sale, a pool tournament and organised a sweepstake based on my finish time. My best friend’s mum was amazing, and organised a lot of events: a Valentine’s meal with her friends, a scavenger hunt, and a pamper party. I also dedicated each mile of the marathon to people’s loved ones who had suffered with cancer, each of which made donations. I am pleased to say that I have raised just over £3600! I am astonished and so grateful to everyone who has donated – this money will really make a difference to Macmillan and so many people’s lives.
I headed to the expo to collect my number with three other excitable starters from Burnham Joggers. We enjoyed a cable car ride on the Emirates Air Line across the river Thames, and indulged in the glory of the expo for a few hours. I picked up a lovely official pint glass, some delicious flapjack, some official clothing and plenty of freebies! We had some fun trying on some London Pride running costumes too.
Marathon day soon came around and I was buzzing, despite concerns of the heat – this was London Marathon, after all! I got the coach put on by Datchet Dashers at 7am, and eagerly travelled into London with lots of other excited and nervous runners. The coach landed in Blackheath, and after a quick team photo, we dispersed into our start areas. I had a lovely chill out with some of my fellow club runners in the sun, awaiting the all important start!
The heat had built up to around 24 degrees by 10 o’clock and we were struggling to find shade in the start pens. It was crazily busy, and took us about half an hour to get to the actual start. It still hadn’t quite sunk in that I was on the start line of one of the biggest marathons in the world, and that I was where I watch thousands of runners on the telly – a rare viewing of the TV for me – every year!
Everyone zoomed off as soon as our pen was released across the start. I tried to contain my excitement, and stuck to my own pace, worried that I would shoot off and bonk too early. My plan was to get round, enjoy it, and soak up the atmosphere. A PB would be lovely, but I had been warned that London was a very busy marathon and it could be tricky to achieve!
The crowds were incredible. There was no moment where you weren’t being spurred on by someone. People lined the streets rows and rows thick, and the noise they made for everyone was overwhelming! I was running along thinking of each person the miles were dedicated to and saying them out loud as I crossed each mile marker. It was a very emotional way to count up the miles, but an extremely motivational way to get to the finish too.
My favourite parts of the crowds were obviously where I saw my friends, though. I had some noisy Burnham Joggers popping up all over the course with banners, air horns, balloons, and super loud cheering. I was meant to spot some friends at mile 16, but couldn’t see them and thought I had missed them. just before mile 17, I heard my name screamed so loudly, and when I turned around they were there, along with my brother. A huge surprise, causing me to cry my eyes out for the first time that day, but certainly not the last!
When I had reached Tower Bridge, I was starting to really feel the effects of the heat. The temperature had risen, the pavements were warm, as well as all the heat from the bodies running, and the sun pounding off all the buildings. There was no reprieve from it. Small pockets of shade and the odd shower were installed on the course to try to help. I was being strict with my salt and electrolyte tablets, and trying to drink the right amount. The rest was going over my head, being sure to not use too much water, as I have run a marathon before where they ran out at mile 20 and I felt awful – I didn’t want others to suffer in the same way.
Exhausted, I pushed on, however it was getting pretty tough. I kept thinking of all those names on my shirt and the good work I was doing for charity. I figured if I just kept moving, I would still get there. There were moments where I am unashamed to say I walked. I had started to feel ill, and when I mentioned it to another runner, they looked at me like I was mental, and said, “If it makes you feel sick to run, just walk!”. It would later appear from maybe not taking enough electrolytes on for the heat, but I had been running in the snow 3 weeks previous! It was mad! I kept moving on though, and it never once crossed my mind to stop.
My brother and friends popped up again in the later miles, as well as a second visit from a few excited Burnham Joggers cheering me on! I did miss a few of them, but it was incredibly loud and busy. Macmillan were doing a great job cheering everyone in their kit on, and all the other runners too. At mile 25, I saw my friend, who fuelled me up with a jelly baby, some encouraging words. There may have been a few tears there as well! But, with only a mile to go, I knew I was going to finish.
I was heading towards St James’s Park, and I was prepared to get this done. I pushed through the barrier, and soon the 800m to go sign was ahead of me. 600m to go – that had seemed like a long 200m! 400m to go – that came along a bit sooner. The famous 385 yards to go banner appeared in front of me, and as I made my way onto the mall, I did a double take, as I looked behind me and Buckingham Palace stared back at me. This was it! Running was a difficulty, but the finish was in sight! I stumbled my way towards that promising finish line as best as I could, and leapt in the air (probably not as high as it felt), with a raised fist and a sense of relief. Cue more tears!
It would later transpire that my friend who I had found a mile 23 of Dublin Marathon and crossed the finish line with, had run Manchester Marathon 2 weeks previously in exactly the same time TO THE SECOND. This has made my London Marathon time extremely special and completely perfect – I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I can’t wait to run Chicago Marathon together in October.
I attended the Macmillan post-race reception, where I was fed and watered, and had a relaxing massage and a chat with a fascinating lady. We then pottered off into town for many photographs, a delicious roast dinner with a pint, and picked up some ginormous doughnuts. I was absolutely exhausted, but I can now say officially that I am a London Marathon finisher!
A huge respect to everyone that was out running that day, and a massive thank you to everyone who has supported me in this marathon journey. Whether it has been putting up with my long mileage runs on weekends, making generous and kind donations to my fundraising, helping with fundraisers, feeding me, giving words of encouragement and many other lovely things. I appreciate all of it and all of you.
Thanks for reading,