Would I do it all again???
Apart from “how long did it take you?”, this was the most frequently asked question after completing the London Marathon. Back in late October when I got the news that I had a place, it took a while for it to sink in that I was going to be attempting one of my bucket list runs of a lifetime. As I has completed two marathons before this, I was under no illusion that as of Boxing Day, my focus was to increase my fitness and try and get a good time whilst enjoying the day. The 16 week countdown had begun.
I enjoyed all my training runs and completed Ashby20 in a time I hoped would set the pace for London. In the meantime my husband secured a charity place so it meant that we were both working together towards the day. This has proved invaluable as we dispelled each other's niggly doubts.
So the weekend of the marathon arrived ( amazing where 16 weeks can go!) and we set off south with good wishes from all corners of the globe from friends and family and work colleagues. The sheer standard of organisation of the whole event from start to finish was utterly outstanding. The Expo at Excel was brilliant from the number collection all the way to listening to Paula Radcliffe giving tips to every type of runner. We picked up some great tips of what to do at the finish line and recovery strategies. Interesting that Paula does not run for 3 weeks after….but I had no intentions of a sub 2:15 finish!!!! So I'm guessing I was ok going out a couple of days later.
Race day itself was just surreal. I got adopted by a local run club at the start area ( I have sent thanks to Shelton Striders since), unfortunately I didn't see any Uknetrunners. The nerves had subsided, I had a job to do and I got across the start about 12 minutes after the gun. The atmosphere was highly positive and very emotional for some. The first three miles were slightly uphill and I took them at a nice steady pace to get warmed up. By the time I got to Cutty Sark the crowd was so loud and encouraging. The next thing I remember is reaching Tower Bridge where the volume of the support reached fever pitch, the noise literally carried you over and you suddenly realise you are half way and starting to count down the miles.
I was fortunate enough to catch our supporters and a school friend at 15,18 and 22 miles which was a great morale boost. By this time the sun had decided to make an appearance and people were beginning to flag. The water stops are every mile so I just pulled the pace back a bit and had sips of water every mile marker. Once onto embankment it all becomes very real how close you are to finishing. London Eye to the left and Big Ben straight ahead. I felt really strong, better prepared than I had been for my previous two marathons. Finally on to the Mall where you get the 600meters boards, the support from the crowd swelled to ear shattering levels. Strangers screaming and hi-fiving you. Then you see the final board 385 yards to go and for a moment I couldn't believe it was nearly over. Through the finish (same time as Chris Evans according to the TV footage) and I felt amazing and bagged a marathon PB. I never saw the Royals in attendance but no matter, receiving that medal was one of the moments in life I will treasure.
A week on, I am still on a high. When we got home we watched the BBC footage and I appear a couple of times on the coverage. Some of it was posted on social media before I finished running! After a day or so I did not feel any after effects and I put this down to following a good training plan, plenty of sleep and listening to my body throughout the race. It was a humbling, amazing, emotional experience and in answer to the original question at the top…..in a heartbeat! Thank you to Uknetrunner for the opportunity to take part and I hope I have done the club proud.