I AM NOW OFFICIALLY A LONDON MARATHON FINISHER! As of 3 days ago, I finally managed to tick off one of my three major life aspirations – to be a marathon runner.
Seeing as I haven’t blogged in a little while I’ll give you a quick overview of the few days leading up to and including the marathon.
On Friday the 22nd of April, I went to the London Marathon Expo to collect my number and race tag. There were literally thousands of people there collecting their numbers (over 39,000 people ran on Sunday), and there were so many things to do and see. There were stands selling all sorts of kit, from actual training gear to anti-rub friction gels, to sat nav watches. There were also loads of charity stands where you could go to your nominated charity and have pictures taken and dedicate your run to a special person or just a cause in general. You also got to have photos take in the #oneinamillion area, which was very exciting as this year the millionth finisher (so from the very first marathon to this years) will have crossed the finish line at some point in the race. I also got to meet Liz Yelling and listen to Kelly Holmes talk about how she had been preparing for this years marathon. Seeing as she was my idol when I was younger, I definitely had a bit of a fangirl moment when I saw her.
When race day came around, I wasn’t actually as nervous as I thought I’d be. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that one of the hardest parts of the day was just getting up at quarter to 6 in the morning! Being a student, that time literally doesn’t even exist for me normally! I then travelled into London, with thousands and thousands of other runners to the start at Blackheath, where I met my family for them to say good luck. Once I got into the start zone I spent most of my time waiting in the queue for the toilets! I very nearly considered using the female urinals (yes really) but just could not bring myself to use one of the little cardboard she-wee things they were handing out. After that I gave in my bag and headed down to the start line. I thought I’d be hanging around for ages, as so many people had warned me that the start is crazily busy. It was busy but I crossed the startline about a minute and a half after the elite men had started which isn’t really that long considering how many people there were.
Once I started the race any lingering nerves just went. I actually enjoyed, I would say, the first 12 miles. After that it started to get a little bit harder, and once I got to about 20 miles I definitely hit ‘The Wall’. Between miles 20 and 25 I honestly thought I was going to die. My whole body hurt, and it just felt like no matter how hard I was trying I just wasn’t getting anywhere. The atmosphere and support of the crowd was honestly a god-send though. Because I had my name on my vest, everyone kept shouting my name, telling me that I was doing really well and to keep going. I now understand why people say that the crowd is the only thing that keeps you going towards the end, because everyone was just so supportive and they definitely encouraged me to keep digging in. Once I hit mile 25 I felt a bit better as I knew I was nearly there, so managed to pick up the pace a bit again. Coming down the finish along the mall and crossing the finish line was probably one of the best experiences of my life, because everyone was cheering so loudly. I also saw the clock and saw that my time was just over 3 hours and 41 minutes, which I was over the moon about seeing as I was aiming for anything under 4 hours! Once I’d crossed the finish line my legs felt so strange, almost like they were still running while the rest of my body had stopped. Everyone at the finish was so supportive, you got given a medal and a goodie bag, and everyone was just congratulating you. You then have to walk for what feels like miles to the runner/spectator meet and greet points, where my lovely housemates met me and told me how proud they were. I then went to meet my family at the Alzheimer’s Society post race reception where I ate loads of food and got a sports massage.
I can honestly say that running the London Marathon was one of the best experiences of my life. The atmosphere was amazing, as no matter who you are, everyone gives you all their support the whole way round. I’ve managed to raise nearly £500 (including gift aid) for two very worthwhile charities. And I not only managed to run quicker than I was expecting, but I also found out that I was only half an hour slower than Kelly Holmes, the double Olympic Gold medallist, and I actually beat Iwan Thomas.
I just want to say thank you to everyone who supported me, and that if you ever get an opportunity to do something like this I would highly recommend it. Even though my legs are still sore today, and I’ve only just been able to walk down the stairs normally since this morning, it was one hundred percent worth it.
Love and kisses,