I cant really believe that firstly, this time last week I was sat on a train to London, just an average Jo and secondly, that it would take me this long to actually start writing/talking about it! It feels like just yesterday yet like it was months ago, all at the same time! Such a weird feeling.
But the feelings and how this week post marathon has been, will be in Part 2 of my mini marathon series, because let’s face it, I have a tendency to waffle on as it is and it could end up turning into a book!
I want to start off by saying that I am so incredibly fucking proud of myself!! Takes me a hell of a lot to say that, and some of you might think “did she really need to swear there?” But yes I did! I ran a marathon! I have no idea if that 1% statistic is accurate as I’ve said but come on, wow!! 26.2 miles!! Me!!!
As you all know, training went tits up and the only long run I did was one solitary 10 miler, about a month before the race itself. If not longer before actually. That is NOT what I would advise anyone to do. The training should be taken seriously, it should not be avoided and you should certainly NOT follow in this daft arses footsteps and assume you can wing it. You may pass the finish line but I tell you what, it fucking hurts!! Like, seriously knacks!! It hurts those that have trained for it properly, so come on, really, don’t risk it!
The day itself, well my morning is kind of a blur now. I had an unexpected sense of calmness about me, in fact, I shall call it numbness. I had literally done jack shit the day before apart from getting a bit lost on a walk to Shepherds Bush when I stupidly assumed I knew more than the mardy Google maps lady. I do not. I had sat on my bed watching shite tv and then binge watching Netflix while eating my body weight in food. Allllll the food! This I think certainly worked in my favour, as shit as I felt that day.
For about 2 weeks prior to the run, I truly questioned quite honestly if I would even get to the Start Line. I was so close to giving in and if it wasn’t for the support of some amazing friends and the generosity of those that donated to Red Balloons, I think I would have. I would have used my niggly calf as an excuse and deferred. If I had deferred though I know that I would never have ever got round to doing it.
I got up on Sunday morning about 530am. Staying over an hour away from the start line I wanted to give myself as much time as possible to get sorted. I am not a fan of the tube itself anyway, so I wanted to get out and get there as soon as possible to make sure it wasn’t crowded. That would have been hell on earth for my anxiety! I had already got all my gear sorted the night before, so was a case of shotting my clothes on, doing last minute checks that I had everything I could need for every possibility, then after a very wholesome breakfast of black coffee and 3 cereal bars, it was off out the door!
I met a lovely lady on the train who chatted to me all the way to Blackheath. She may not know it but I am incredibly grateful to her for being so chatty and friendly. It was at this point that the loneliness was starting to hit me. There was going to be no one cheering me on from the side lines. No one waiting for me at the end with a celebratory gin and hug! There was so many people there with so much support, it as kind of like a slap in the face. I am not ashamed to admit, I was incredibly jealous.
I got to Blackheath and already the amount of people making their way to the start line was crazy! And this was a tiny fraction. I met with the lovely Lee from Red January, finally! He came to meet me at the start area of the blue zone, and after a lush little hug and a chat, I felt a bit more relaxed. I may not have people physically there with me but I knew I had so much support. I had a magic banana and then it was off to soak in the atmosphere. Straight through security, straight to the loo then to drop my kit bag off. The energy in the air was electric. So many people from so many walks of life, different sizes, ages and all running for their own personal reasons. Some had ran stupid amounts of marathons, some were like me and it was their first. And what a first one! The bloody London Marathon for god’s sake!
The start zone was freezing! I don’t normally feel the cold but I am sure I must have burnt a good proportion of the 4056 calories that I apparently used up that day, just shivering them off! Not a great idea to wear shorts and t shirt! But as soon as we started to get in our huddles for the starting pen, it got warmer much quicker. My zone was due to cross the start line at 10:38 I think but it was just before 11am when I got there. Time seemed to have no meaning at that point though. For the first time in as long as I remember I just wanted to start running! I had started to come alive again. I was here, I was about to do it!! I had my playlist ready to go. All that was left now was to go and do the best I could. I had a dream that I would finish in the 5’s, expected 6’s but would have at that moment been happy with any time as long as it meant I finally got that medal round my neck!
So, we crossed the start line and the crowds were already amazing! When they say that the crowds carry you around London, they were not lying. The support and encouragement is something I believe would be incredibly hard to replicate! I managed to settle into my pace quite quickly and comfortably so I was already off to a really positive start. I had a flush of emotions but managed to keep them in check. The smile on my face was absolutely HUGE! All the love I have for running came flooding back. God I had missed it so much!!
The first three miles are really just around the housing estates, the “hump” volunteers made me laugh. Definitely part of the experience. Maybe not as exciting as they may sound haha but anyone or anything that makes me laugh is a winner to me. The thing that surprised me the most, is having done the Great North Run, I had expected and prepared myself for large crowds of runners and generally not being able to move very freely, but it was actually quite spacious! This was definitely a relief. Even when we joined the runners from the other start zones at around mile 3, it never got to the point where I felt I was tripping over anyone. I must say, the groups all coming together was an amazing feeling.
I keep going on about the atmosphere, and I kind of feel mean as I cant even begin it explain in enough detail that would ever give it justice! It is certainly a “you had to be there” thing. Anyway, the running was going well, decent pace, even speeding up around the 15km which was an unexpected surprise. The Cutty Sark was a mint section of the route and I realised I was getting to see the sights of London in one hell of a fab way! The songs on my playlist were really doing their job and all weekend I felt like someone had been watching over me, but the cherry on the top of that cake was when I got to Tower Bridge! The song that started playing as I took my first step onto it was ‘So Lonely’ by The Police. That is Noah’s favourite song ever and one that has became increasingly important to me over the years. I was beaming!
I crossed the half way point (4 minutes faster than the time I had completed the GNR in so I was buzzing my baps off at that!) and that is kind of when it went wrong in one aspect. My body just went, nah! I knew I couldn’t stop as I wouldn’t have started again and that is fact. Things hurt that I never knew could or would! No one warns you that your neck and shoulders ache like you have an Elma on top of them, and my god, the pain you get in your arse is something else!! There was no way I was giving up though. I thought my aim of a 5 finishing time was out the window, and I wont lie, if I had had the energy I would have been kicking myself as I didn’t want to walk but at the end of the day I listened to my body. And luckily, anyone that knows me knows I walk stupidly fast! Walking a marathon does not make you not a marathon runner. Unless you are an elite athlete it really does not matter what time you cross that finish line! Who gives a fuck what Sue from up the road thinks or what Bob from Accounts said he did in 2001? The fact that you even put yourself up for applying for a marathon just shows you how much progress you have made by having that self belief. It might be tiny, it might be a spark, but it is there! And I tell you what, NO ONE can take that away from you.
I got to my amazing friend Billy at Mile 19, who had a drink and some jelly beans for me, and I was still in one piece, starting to ache but was good. Another lush hug and meeting the amazing Pam was a great boost. Then about mile 22 hit and that was when the pain took over me like a steam roller. Fuck me, it hurt. I keep saying it but seriously, it did! I kept going though, down past the embankment, laughing at a lass stopping to nick a blokes alcoholic drink and walking down the road with her half glass of lager. So jealous! That was a genius move in my opinion! I got to see all the sights though, the Thames, the London Eye, Big Ben, etc. Yes the pain was tainting it slightly but still, I was there. I decided that yeah, ok I might be walking, but at least I was sightseeing. The final mile popped up. Thank fuck for that!! Yet this mile felt longer than all 25 miles before it. I was definitely reaching my physical limit. Anyone who has done it will tell you that as soon as that 800m to go sign pops up, 200m feels like 2 mile. I turned the corner to the last part, I so wanted to do a sprint finish but my legs were struggling to lift my feet off the floor in general, no way I could. But you know what, I crossed that finish line. In my 5 hour time goal at 5 hours 35 minutes and 8 seconds! I was a marathon runner!! I had fucking done it!!! Medal firmly round my neck. A friend asked me how I was still smiling after all that way but wow!! It was the hardest but without a doubt the BEST physical challenge I have done to date and all the stress and agony in the lead up to it disappeared.
Despite everything, despite all my worries and self doubt I had done it!!!
So what things have I learnt. Here are the main things:
– You will despise all jelly sweets for a good week after, and this starts from about mile 22
– Ice pops, grapes and cherry tomatoes taste like wizards piss!! Those cherry toms were seriously the best thing I have had in my mouth in a very long time!
– You will have so much respect for everyone around you and feel like you are in some kind of secret but obviously not so secret society
– There are so many charities out there! From the massive well known ones to the tiny ones you have never heard of.
– People in crazy fancy dress will run past you. And I mean Big Ben, Wooden spoons and Rhino’s.
– Take the Vaseline before you realise you need it, as soon as you know you need some, you wont find anyone with it!
– You will constantly worry about pissing or shitting yourself. I however surprised myself completely and didn’t go to the toilet once!! In 6 hours!!
– You will feel like an absolute hero at the end but unless you run them for fun, that post run beer and food is nowhere near as appealing as some sleep!
So, although I said over and over again, never again, well I am afraid I have changed my mind! Who knows what the future holds for crazy CC. I can see me losing a lot of friends if I drive them as bonkers as I have this time though haha haha but honestly, now I know what to expect, I am sure I will be much calmer!
So, part 2 will come towards the end of the weekend. That will be all the emotions and shit. As always I know this is a pretty random blog and I have no doubt missed loads of things out but I suppose I want to end on this:
The only person who can limit what you can achieve and do is YOU. I know that you can do whatever you set your mind to. Whether it be a marathon, or something else. Take a leap of faith and prove to yourself what everyone else knows, you are AMAZING!
Thanks to those who supported me through the run itself, messaged me to keep me going and were just generally in my pocket the whole time. I can never thank you enough. You know who you are.
(Marathon Runner) CC xx