Far from just another race, this one. I honestly feel like I’ve been preparing for it for years.
I’d been applying through the London Marathon ballot every year since I started running, because I knew that with a 4.8% ballot success rate there was no chance I’d ever get in, but I do like the glossy rejection magazine they send you in order to tell you you’ve not got in.
Then in autumn 2017, they didn’t send me a rejection magazine. They sent me a ‘You’re In!’ magazine. Oh.
It was lucky that you have the option to defer entry for a year, because Geth and I were moving house over the course of winter 2017/2018 and there was absolutely no way that I would have had the time to train for a marathon on top of that. So London 2019 it was, and in January this year I started training in earnest. I knew I had to be a lot more disciplined with my marathon training than I have sometimes been with my half marathons. You can blag a half marathon if you do 10Ks regularly enough, but you can’t do the same with a full marathon – you need to be properly trained up as it’s a very different beast.
As such, I felt nervous but quietly confident when I lined up in the freezing cold on the start line on Sunday. I knew I’d be slow but I also knew I would finish!
Mile one was just about getting settled, but mile two was probably my favourite of the whole race. There were lots of barely-noticeable speed bumps in the road, but the organisers obviously didn’t want anyone tripping over them, so every single speed bump had two volunteers, one at each end, holding a ‘HUMPS’ sign and yelling ‘HUUUUUMMMMMPPPSS!’ The best duo had a whole call-and-response thing that they’d clearly been practising for weeks.
The end of mile two also saw the first of the many red phone boxes on the race route. Was I ever going to be on these particular London streets again? No, unless I’m ever both mad enough and lucky enough to get into the London Marathon again. Therefore, did I take a photo of every single red phone box along the route? You bet I did. Many, many Phone Box Thursday posts coming soon!
Miles three to ten were fairly straightforward – I had my visualisation plan and it was nice to see my friend Claire volunteering at the mile seven drinks station. The best sightseeing moments, such as the Cutty Sark and Tower Bridge, are all in the first half, and they do really contribute to the atmosphere.
The second half starts off with a slightly demoralising section along miles fourteen and fifteen where you get to watch all the faster runners coming back the other way! Once you split off from that, miles sixteen to twenty are a bit dull scenery-wise, and also the toughest part of the race, I found, although I really appreciated the first RNLI cheering point at mile nineteen.
Once I got past mile twenty, even though it was feeling really tough by then, I did at least feel like the end was in sight, and it was just a case of gritting teeth and counting down every mile. By the time I got to mile twenty-four, we were having to weave in and out of vans and coaches. This was the one big issue I had with the race. Why on earth do they have vehicles going down the route when there are still runners on the course? Either marshal the runners onto the pavement so the vehicles can get past, or wait until all the runners have finished. It was really hairy and I suspect there’s going to be a very nasty accident/somebody will get mown down during some future edition of the race if they keep setting it up like that.
There was another RNLI cheering squad at mile 25, which was enough to spur me on until I got to the final stretch! Geth was watching from the side as I came along Birdcage Walk, which was a nice surprise, and after that I had enough energy to kick round the corner and sprint down the Mall towards the finish line.
When I went to collect my medal and goodie bag, they only had extra small T-shirts left, which was a bit of a surprise. XS is perfect for me as race t-shirts are unisex size, but usually if you’re among the last finishers they only have larger sizes left! I felt a bit sorry for the bigger runners around me who were going to get stuck with an XS t-shirt they probably wouldn’t be able to wear.
However, this may be the best running medal I will ever get.
Geth joined me at the entrance to the meeting area, and we wandered over to the RNLI meeting point – I was too slow for the post-race reception, which had already finished, but there was a nice volunteer at the meeting point who took a picture of us with the Lifeboats flag.
It’s been one of those weird time things where I simultaneously feel like I’ve been training for London forever and also like I’ve only just started…and now it’s all over. I was super slow, but I’m proud I did it. I still need a bit of time to digest this one. Back to my regularly scheduled 10Ks in the meantime!
I’m going to do a proper race review post all about yesterday’s marathon tomorrow, but I will say that I am super proud of myself, even if I was really slow!
My legs have obviously been suffering a bit today, but nowhere near as much as they have after shorter races in the past, so my fitness has clearly improved. I had a good walk, as I had a booking to see the Christian Dior exhibit at the V&A (something else I will blog about in greater detail later in the week!) – it was a bit tiring, but it meant that I didn’t stiffen up too much today.
Back to work tomorrow, and hopefully I’ll be fully recovered in another day or so! Not running again until Saturday though.
Today’s earworm playlist:
Duran Duran – Meet El Presidente Vangelis – Chariots Of Fire The Midnight – Gloria Katy Perry – Last Friday Night (TGIF) Chris Isaak – Wicked Game VNV Nation – Nova (Shine A Light On Me) U2 – Elevation
I’m still a bit too knackered from yesterday’s marathon to do a proper music video post today, but here’s that inspiring theme from Chariots Of Fire to enjoy:
I am a slow runner and there is no hope of me ever winning a race, but as I’ve mentioned before, I did once come last out of 4,000+ people. It was in the Great North 10k 2016, and when I finally limped onto the finishing straight at Gateshead Stadium, they broke out the Chariots Of Fire theme tune, inspiring me to an epic sprint finish along the track. It was the greatest moment of my running career.
The video is mainly clips from the film, but there are also some pleasing shots of Vangelis chain-smoking while fiddling with his synths. So ’80s.
I’ve been planning and preparing for this for so long that I can’t believe it’s actually time to go do this thing. I’ve had a pretty-much-perfect final day of preparation though! I went for a shakeout run at Highbury Fields parkrun this morning – I was in two minds about doing it, because I didn’t want to sap my energy for tomorrow, but I’m really glad I did because I had a great run and it’s given me a lot of confidence for the race. It also made me aware that my watch had randomly switched itself back from miles to kilometres, so I’ve been able to fix that. I would not have been best pleased if I’d only discovered that after I set off tomorrow.
The rest of the day has been spent eating and making arrangements for eating. Geth and I discovered a nice new breakfast place where I was able to have pancakes, and we booked a table at an Italian restaurant so that I could eat all the pasta (and all the garlic pizza bread, and all the mozzarella salad, and all the ice cream…) this evening.
After taking the eye drops for a day so far, the good news is that my eye is feeling a lot better than it did. It’s still very misty and blurry vision-wise, and I’m still having to take occasional ibuprofen, but I’m hoping for it to be even better tomorrow.
I picked up my marathon running number this afternoon. All starting to feel very real now! Looking forward to a relatively restful Saturday before the big day.
Today’s earworm playlist:
Arcadia – Rose Arcana Duran Duran – Save A Prayer Duran Duran – The Chauffeur Duran Duran – Night Boat Ellie Goulding and Swae Lee – Close To Me Faderhead – Mono Man The Cure – Kyoto Song Duran Duran – All She Wants Is Philip Oakey and Giorgio Moroder – Together In Electric Dreams Mark Ronson and Lykke Li – Late Night Feelings Charlie Puth – One Call Away Duran Duran – Notorious The Midnight – Gloria Carter USM – And God Created Brixton Lil’ Nas X – Old Town Road Chic – Everybody Dance Duran Duran – Too Late Marlene Sacre – The London Marathon Duran Duran – New Religion David Bowie – Fame
I spent most of today in the walk-in eye clinic at the hospital. My eye issue is not an eye infection. It’s uveitis, which is going to take a seven-week course of eye drops to clear up. I am not a happy bunny. I am hoping, however, that my eye will at least respond to the drops fast enough that it won’t be uncomfortable during the race on Sunday. Mum has had the same thing in chronic form for years, and she assures me that the treatment always works quickly, so fingers crossed.
The next couple of days are just quiet preparation. And eating a lot of pasta, which has already started. I’m going to miss marathon training eating.
Today’s earworm playlist:
John Lennon – Woman Duran Duran – New Religion Mark Ronson and Lykke Li – Late Night Feelings Duran Duran – Come Undone Sigrid – Don’t Feel Like Crying Duran Duran – Hold Back The Rain Squeeze – Up The Junction
I really didn’t need this eye infection or whatever it is this week.
Didn’t get much sleep last night because of it, and I’ve been in a bad way all day. I’m having to skip poetry night tonight (which I’m really upset about – was looking forward to reading again!) and Slimming World tomorrow in favour of an emergency doctor’s appointment. I need this thing gone by race day on Sunday.
Hoping for a better day tomorrow.
Today’s earworm playlist:
OneRepublic – Counting Stars Duran Duran – Save A Prayer Duran Duran – New Religion Jax Jones, Mabel and Rich The Kid – Ring Ring Duran Duran – The Chauffeur