The Build Up
After the high of the Manchester Marathon, my thoughts turned to my next challenge, the London Marathon. Just three weeks separated these two events and I knew it was going to be tough. A lot of you know I like a
challengeso I accidentally made the marathon slightly more challenging by falling over! On Easter Sunday, I decided to hit the trails around the beautiful Bradgate Park. Half an hour in and I am hobbling back to the car, bloody oozing down my leg and its just seven days until London.
Between falling over and the London Marathon, I managed one run and a grand total of 1.4 miles. It was agony. The cut was healing well but the impact of the fall had well and truly taken its toll on me. The bruising kept coming out, the pain was bad enough trying to walk and all I could think about was how was I going to run a marathon in just a few days. I made the decision to not try and run again. I was about to break my golden rule; don’t run an event if you’re not fully fit. I couldn’t defer my place but I knew one way or another I was going to get from the start to the finish; even if that meant crawling over the line. One thing I have bags of is stubbornness. If you tell me I can’t do something then I will bloody well try! (Within reason!) My sister, who is a pharmacist, gave me a shopping list and I went to Boots and picked up a few bits to try and get the swelling down and the bruising out. It was now just a matter of waiting until Sunday and seeing what I could do.
I had been looking forward to the Expo for ages! It took almost an hour to
fight our way across London but it was worth it. The first thing I had to do was collect my number, it all became very real. I had a marathon to complete in less than 24 hours!!! I had a wonder around the Expo, after
leaving the family to watch the live talks because the littlest monster was kicking off! I found the Parkinson’s UK stand and signed the board and took in the rest of the expo. There are plenty of opportunities to get your photo taken with different brands etc. All in all, a good day! I would recommend eating prior to getting there; ££££!!
I wanted to soak up as much of the atmosphere as I could so I aimed to get to the start for about 0800. By 0815, I had found Greenwich Park, had eaten breakfast and used the toilet! It was like a festival, people everywhere, toilets for miles and that smell of anticipation was in the air! There is a huge screen in the park so you can watch the build up unfold, it was great to see the wheel chair athletes get under way and the women’s race. I decided to loiter near my starting pen, Red Z1. I had thought about moving back but made the last minute decision to stick with the original plan and try and settle into some form of pace before the knee gave up. This wasn’t me been pessimistic, it was the honest approach, the knee was hurting it was more than likely going to give up at some point.
It Was Time
The men’s and the masses were less than 10 minutes away from beginning the 2019 London Marathon. Sir Mo got one of the biggest cheers from the
crowd. Sir Andy Murray was given the honour of starting the marathon and after a rather unconvincing countdown, he hit the button. It was time. It was a rather underwhelming start in away, but we were under way.
Regardless of the pace you run at, for me its difficult to run at a slower pace than I would naturally like to. For the first few miles, I wanted to stay steady but after ticking through 5km in 25:32 (Manchester was 25:13, when I was fully fit!), I changed my approach and just said fuck it. Lets get as far in as we can before shit
hits the fan. I got to the 20km mark in 1:41 (Manchester was 1:39!), I was loving life, the knee was holding out and I was powering on.
Shit Hits The Fan
Mile 16. The most memorable mile of the second half of this marathon minus the last mile! Its when the pain in my knee took over and the pain in my hip came out of no where and kicked me in the balls. It was agony. It was so sudden as well. 10 miles is pretty far when running but now, I knew I was going to have to run/walk it and that was one of my worse nightmares.
I posted some Instagram stories, highlighting my plight and then about mile twenty I could feel my phone ringing. It could be only one of five people (iPhone was on night mode, select few contacts bypass this!), I pulled my phone out of my running belt. It was the Mrs, she said ” You ok? Your mum thinks you have stopped? Is everything ok?” I explained about the hip and knee pain. I cried a little, knowing I had another six miles to go. (After the run, the Mrs said she thought I was laughing rather than crying!)
The Final Push
I had some how managed to walk/run/shuffle through to the 23rd mile, during this time I had eaten lots of sweets, oranges and drank half a pint. I had gone through so much to get to this point but I knew I was edging closer and closer to the finish. It was purely mind over matter now. Another runner pulled up a long side me during one my many walking spells and said “Lets do this, run walk to the end, I am aching but come on, we can do this”. I now know this women as Victoria. We would run for just under a kilometre and walk for a little bit. My three main highlights were still to come!! I saw Jecks on the course and stopped, gave her a hug, I can’t remember what she said but I am sure it was inspiring. It was time to power on.
Mile 24, everything was hurting but I had to keep going. My mind was empty, my legs were gone and I had just over two miles left to go. The best part about this mile was seeing Becca. I stopped said thank you and got showered with a confetti cannon. Once again, I have no recollection of what was said in our brief exchange.
The run/walk strategy was painful. Every step felt like a mile. The great news was that Victoria and I were so close to the finish. We approached the final kilometre and my final check in with someone I knew! James was marshalling and I remember waving at him, no response, I crossed over and finally he realised it was me. All I can remember James saying was “Hun”. Nothing else but seeing him meant I was close to finishing this marathon.
Victoria and I walked for another 50metres or so before we decided it was time to put this marathon to bed. We ran the final right hand corner and now we could see the finish. All of a sudden the legs felt great, the heaviness had left them and an almost sprint finished occurred. It was over. I hugged Victoria after crossing the line, without her, I am not sure when I would have finished. 4:08. I wasn’t fussed about the time but just glad it was over!
I met up with the family and headed to the Parkinson’s UK event. It worked so well, quick shower and a beer. Relief was almost over whelming. Onto the next engagament at a little wine bar near the finish to meet Charlie and the rest of the Annapurna Runners. A few beers and some food went down a treat.
It was over. The London Marathon was complete and marathon major number 1, done.