Day #7 - Race day
Distance: 26.2 miles
Finish time: 04:10:27
Average time (per mile): 09:33 minutes
place (total) 13539
place (gender) 2649
place (cat) 1593
finish time 04:10:27
I knew in advance that trying to write a blog post about my marathon weekend would be a bit of a mammoth task so I tried to keep a race diary along the way. Obviously my notes tailed off a bit once I actually started the race!
Saturday 24th April
09:00 - On bus into town with calming knitting. Had a nice exchange with the friendly chap at the end of our road who asked if I would be running tomorrow. Very nice to be able to say "yes, I will be". Sadly had to reply in the negative to his question about whether to look out for me among the elite runners. Nearly missed bus whilst looking in the bookshop window. It's surprisingly stealthy for such a large vehicle.
11:00 - On the tube to the London Marathon Expo. The underground map takes on a new significance. Every time I look at a station I try to work out how many miles along the course it is.
12:00 - Just finished registering at Excel. Was amazingly quick and easy, the London Marathon really is fabulously organized - there was no line at all for my number range. Didn't feel like shopping for kit so just picked up some gels and my goody bag. I was very happy to see that you still get a can of London Pride in your goody bag, especially as the last time I ran the race back in 2007 I wasn't that keen on beer and let the boyfriend drink mine. Also happy about the bottle of yazoo chocolate milk which I had for the first time after the Silverstone half marathon - it's yummy stuff.
13:45 - Arrive at Blackheath station and meet up with Lara. After dropping my things off at her and Jon's flat we head off to the pub for lunch (Lara) and a (non-alcoholic) drink (me) before having a wander round Blackheath to check out the start area (which you could actually see from Lara's front door), buy some handwipes (fairly essential race-day kit), and have a browse around a lovely shop I had spotted earlier across the road from the station. As I hadn't bought any London marathon kit
at the Expo I bought a gorgeous bracelet as a souvenir of the race weekend. Back at the flat we had more tea and two types of lemon cake and waited for Kirsty and Felix to arrive at around 5:30 bearing yet more cake. We had such a lovely evening, drinking tea, eating dinner, blowing bubbles, and all trying on Felix's amazing new cardigan. It was the perfect relaxing preparation for race day.
Sunday 25th April
08:00 - Wake up and have shower at lovely Hotel Lara. I always like to have a shower before a race, you might as well start off feeling fresh and clean. Gulp down porridge with some difficulty due to nerves and fresh wave of emotion brought on by lovely good luck card from Lara. Text from Kate (from my running club) to say she's at the start area already.
08:55 - Was difficult to tell what the conditions outside were like from inside the flat. Am very excited (literally punching the air) to discover that it's actually raining. Am very relieved after spending all week thinking that Sunday is going to be scorching. Walk over to the blue start entrance, very impressed by the amazing hot air balloons that are tethered next to the start, especially the Churchill dog and a giant motorcycle.
09:05 - Meet up with Kate at the baggage lorries just as it starts chucking it down. Very pleased that I have my foil blanket from the Manchester 10k last year to wrap round me. It's surprisingly cosy and very effective. Try to find a relatively sheltered spot to wait in until it's time to join the start. It could not be more different than three years ago when everyone was sprawled out on the grass, slapping on sunscreen and getting as much water as they could down them.
09:30 - In start zone 6 stood next to a guy dressed as Hamlet (the skull was the clue). Watching the clock on the giant screen count down to the start time.
09:45 - Big cheer as the elite men and the runners in zone 1 stream away on the big screen. Start moving forward very slowly - hope we'll have started jogging by the time we reach the line. Cross over the timing mats at the start and press the start button on my stopwatch. Look everywhere for Jon and Lara in the first 500 yards or so but don't spot them. There's loads of other support though, the main sound, other than the tread of thousands of feet, is the constant pattern of applause.
Miles 1-3 were very crowded, the pace felt quite slow and I had to constantly look for little gaps in the runners to move forwards. After the 3 mile marker the crowd started to thin out a bit and I could start making up time. I really enjoyed this part of the race, I was running well, the support was fabulous and there was lots to see and enjoy along the way. There were lots of live acts outside the pubs and stereos playing out of people's front doors. Lots of people with pints and glasses of wine or Pimms in their hands at 10:30am. Loads of kids holding out their hands to be slapped by the runners on their way past. I was really excited by the way I was making up time on my target and (I think due to the fact that I didn't really know what time I was doing for individual miles, just what my totals were) got a bit carried away. I should have taken things much more steadily and the result was that I was feeling really tired as I crossed Tower Bridge around mile 13 and had more or less burned out by mile 17. I spent a lot of time between miles 17 and 20 staring at the tarmac and watching the road markings go by, just keeping my head down and plugging away. I picked up a bit around mile 20 at Canary Wharf where I hoped I might see the boyfriend and at mile 22 where Tineke would be supporting but it was a really long hard slog to the end and I walked a couple of times. The Embankment has never seemed quite so long but I could just about enjoy the experience of running along there, especially the sections where the crowd is above road level coming out of the underpasses and it's like running through a tunnel of sound. At last I saw Big Ben and the houses of Parliament and then the signs counting down 800m, 600m, 400m, 200m and then the finish.
14:10 - The finish. I just about had the energy to stagger to a volunteer to have my time chip clipped off and to take my medal from another volunteer** before going off in search of my kit bag and goody bag. I briefly saw Kate (who had finished a few minutes ahead of me) before going to sit down on the steps to Carlton Terrace. Once I'd sat down for a few minutes, pulled on my finisher's t shirt and eaten a bit of an apple I felt much better and could head off to Trafalgar Square to meet up with the boyfriend and Lara.
14:30 - Fourth plinth Trafalgar Square. Meet up with Lara and the boyfriend and clean up a bit with wet wipes before getting some finisher's photos near one of the fountains. Say goodbye to Lara (who very kindly brought the rest of my luggage all the way from Blackheath) and head off for traditional post-marathon meal of pizza with the boyfriend.
Really love my LonDONE t shirt - much cooler than either the one for London 2007 or Dublin.
* although if I ever manage to drag my actual splits out of my stopwatch I suspect I was veering wildly between 8 and 12 minute miles over the course of the race!
** I was really worried that I might throw up over the girl who gave me my medal but just managed to hold on until I got over to the side of the roadway. It was only lucozade luckily.