Saturday, 14 May 2016

London Marathon: My first marathon experience

It's done.  I did it.  My marathon training is over.  I finally ran the London Marathon on Sunday 24th April and I am proud to say that I completed it in 5 hours and 10 minutes.

My friend and I got the train down to London on the Saturday.  I had a small bag with some belongings.  We were going into the unknown.  I was putting pressure on myself to perform well.  As we sat on that train I said to my friend: I feel like I'm going into the hunger games.

On the Sunday morning we woke up at 6am.  I didn't feel nervous, I felt very calm but excited.  I had prepared everything the night before so I was able to get ready quickly, spray my hair purple and have my breakfast of porridge before catching the tube down to Greenwich.  I expected myself to be in a frenzied panic come marathon morning but I surprised myself at how calm and collected I was.  I met my parents in Greenwich where we said our last goodbyes before I fought to my death they wished me luck before we went our separate ways.

At the London Marathon there are three starting points.  I began at the red start because I was running for a charity, Whizz-Kidz.  Within that colour start, you are then allocated a zone, 1-9 depending on your estimated finish time.  All those months ago I could barely see myself finishing a marathon so I gave an estimated finish time of 5.30.  Therefore, unfortunately I was allocated to zone 9.  Luckily for me, I got there early so got right to the front of zone 9.  The further back you are, the slower your finish time as you cannot really run any faster than the people in front of you.

From 9-10am the time flew by as I felt very slightly apprehensive, very excited and watched other people get into their starting positions, many with amazing costumes.  Before I knew it, it was 10am and the gun had gone off (I didn't hear it) and people were moving forward.  As there are so many people in the marathon, it takes quite some time to pass the start line.  I was actually bursting for a pee and had time to run to the toilet and then back into the queue to cross the start line.

Then I was off!! I got to the start line and I started to run! I was aiming for 10 minute miles which I thought would get me quite a decent time, but I actually started off running slower than this.  The people around me were running slower than I wanted and even though I could over take a few people every now and then, the crowd of runners was so big that I just could not run at the pace that I wanted to.

Everyone says that they feel emotional crossing the finish line.  Me?  I'm pretty much an emotionless robot, just kidding, but I didn't cry when crossing the finish line.  However I almost burst into tears during that first mile.  It was just the sheer amount of people lining the streets of London.  Some of the supporters who had friends and family running the marathon, some of the supporters didn't know one person running the marathon.  None of them who knew me but were shouting words of encouragement towards me.

I had done the training, I'd done a 15 mile run, a 17 mile run, a 18 mile, and a 22 mile.  All of which were difficult and tedious, and boring and long.  The London Marathon was nothing like that.  Each mile seemed to pass so quickly  as I looked at the different costumes, turned my attention to the wonderful supporters and smiled at the random bands playing on street corners.

At mile 8 I started to assess the toilet situation.  I had been keeping the fluids well topped up and although I didn't need to pee just yet, I didn't want to end up in a situation where I had to pee myself.  The queues for the toilets were massive and I didn't want to add to my time standing in a toilet queue.  By this time I had been running for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, there were people weeing in the bushes but I didn't want to bring myself to that, not in London.  At mile 10 I ran past the shortest toilet queue yet.  At this point I still didn't really need the toilet but I thought I would take my chances and go whilst there was a short queue.  It was frustrating standing in a queue when I could have been running, trying to get a better time.  However I didn't have to wait long, maybe 10 minutes, and it was worthwhile because I didn't have to stop for another pee break for the rest of the marathon.

As soon as I started running during this marathon, my left knee had started to hurt.  You can read about my knee troubles in this post and this post.  So when I stopped for the toilet at mile 10, I took some paracetamol.  I didn't really want to, but I didn't want to get halfway through and then have to limp it.

At mile 13 I hadn't started to tire, and at mile 17 when I saw my parents that gave me an extra burst of energy.  In fact, their comments afterwards were that they were worried I would be struggling by that point but I was actually full of life!  However mile 18 was when it got a bit more difficult.  For the next three miles I pushed on, not hating it, but slightly struggling.

And then I saw the mile 21 sign.  Just 5 miles left. FIVE MEASLY MILES.  I can do this!! I thought.  GO ON MARIA.  And on I went.  Mile 21 to mile 25 was amazing.  I overtook so many people.  In fact, in the last 7.2k I passed 923 runners and only 32 passed me.  In the last 5 miles the crowds lining the streets seemed to be the busiest yet, I was over taking everyone.  Everyone seemed to be shouting my name and I felt amazing.  I must have got the adrenaline from the crowd and I loved every minute.  Those 4 miles were my favourite.

Then came mile 25.  I knew that there was just 1 mile left.  I had completed 25 miles, the longest distance I had ever ran, and I only had to run one more.  That's when everything started to hurt.  My legs were tired.  I was tired.  My whole body was tired.  I slowed down but kept on pushing through.  I knew I could do it.

Then I saw the finish line in the distance.  Fireworks were going off in my head, I felt amazing! I had done it!! I got to the finish line.
It wasn't the finish line.  It was a sign stating however many hundred yards were left.  My heart fell.  I had been telling myself that I only had to get to that sign and then I could stop.  I had gotten to that sign and I couldn't stop, I had to go further.  No one seemed to be shouting my name, I had lost the crowd support, everyone seemed to be over taking me and I dread to think of the faces I was pulling.

That last mile was the worst and it seemed the longest.  But I finally did cross the finish line.  The real finish line.

I didn't want to stop running.  If I stopped running my legs would no longer work.  I had to stop running because of the other people.  I didn't want to stop walking because I was afraid my legs wouldn't work.  But I also had to stop walking so a man could put a medal round my neck.  I can't remember how I felt, it hadn't quite sunk in.  All I wanted to do was see my family, but as I would later find out, they were actually still standing by the finish line, waiting to watch me cross it.

I collected a goody bag. Some man tied a foil blanket round my neck.  I had a photo.  All of this seems really vague in my memory.  I finally found my family and friends after what seemed like ages.  According to my Dad I couldn't stop smiling.  I felt amazing.

We went to the pub, I had a pint and it felt great.  People were congratulating me in the pub, people on the tubes and trains were giving up their seats for me.  It was awesome.  My Dad made me run for the train and I actually did it!!  I finally got home, had a bath and went to bed feel incredibly successful.  I can't describe how great it felt.  One of the best days of my life so far!!

Did you run or watch the London Marathon this year?

1 comment:

Thank you for reading. Any comments are appreciated :)