I was the person that said ‘I’m never running a marathon’, but hey I’ve now done two! This has been as a direct result of being inspired by those in the club who have conquered the distance.
I had an early start on the day up at 4.30, to catch the 5.50 Oxford tube bus. (Ken had assured me it was a hassle free way of getting to the start, and it is.) Waiting at the bus stop I met Enda Brady( Sky Reporter) who just happened to drop into the conversation that he had interviewed Mo Farah and Eliud Kipchoge the previous week. To think I was going to be running in their wake, admittedly quite a bit behind!
Once at Victoria the realisation of what I was about to do hit home as more and more runners arrived to get the train to Blackheath for the blue start. It was a lengthy wait on the heath but the atmosphere was exciting and it was great to see the eclectic mix of people from the serious to charity runners. As the start time approached nerves kicked in and the toilet cues got longer, you know how much of an issue that is folks. Zone 4 was called and it was time to get ready, but we were held there for a good fifteen minutes. In that time I got talking to the women next to be who said she was aiming for four hours, fab I thought my own pace maker.
Then we were off, crossing that red mat to begin the London Marathon, I fully expected the start to be congested but it wasn’t. From the beginning there were people lining the route shouting encouragement and I was so glad I had my name on my Benson Striders top. No-one informed me about the speed bumps within the first few miles, but ‘the hump gang’ were very vocal with their warnings. Continuing on to the Cutty Sark 6-7 miles, I endeavoured to make sure I smiled for the cameras. By this stage I had realised that my pace was much faster than it should have been, but it felt good so continued on with Rachel, but that was a mistake I regretted later. The next section was uneventful but made enjoyable by the singers, DJ’s and music along the way.
When crossing the iconic Tower Bridge I tried to take a photo, but ended up with picture of my feet. Managed to see Larry unfortunately couldn’t stop but it was a huge lift just as I got to half way. This section involves a switch back, and I had hoped to get a glimpse of some of the elites, however by this time they had finished. At 17 miles said goodbye to Rachel and now it was me against the clock, buoyed on by the encouragements from the crowds through Isle of Dogs (21 miles). Had started to slow down but was determined to keep going for as long as possible, however from 22 miles on had to walk brief sections. I knew this was going to be mind over matter and tried to break down into chunks, finally there was 7k to go. My hopes of under four hours were slipping from my grasp, but I still had the carrot of getting good for age time.
As I came out of the tunnel at 24 miles the crowds got bigger, the cheers louder and the words of one lady in particular at 25 miles – ‘Dee you are amazing’ gave me the impetuous to dig deep. Westminster then the sign for 800m, the finish was in sight and I was able to cross the line knowing I had achieved PB – 4hrs 3mins 30 secs.
It was an experience that I will treasure and am so grateful that I got the club ballot place – thank you Benson Striders. Did I follow advice? – No, did I enjoy? – Yes, would I do it again? – Yes. I’ve already entered the ballot for 2020, and will be also be able to enter good for age ballot. If I don’t get a place I’m going to volunteer as I would like to be part of the 40th London Marathon.