The London Marathon really is such an amazing event that I would recommend anyone to take part in or just go to watch and support! The lead up to it for me was really negative, it has been my first year living in London without my beloved Yorkshire hills to train on, I had a 5 week never ending groin injury and I spent 7 days bed bound, unable to stomach any food or water only two weeks before the race!
I spent last week absolutely dreading the event on sunday, convinced there was no way I would be able to get anywhere near close to my previous marathon time, wondering how I would cope with the embarrassment if I ended up being half an hour slower then before!
On Saturday morning my family arrived in London, true to Young family fashion we were in no rush to go register like anyone else would be the day before a super busy event! Instead we start the day by strolling around Bond Street trying to find the shop that could service my dads watch!
Finally we make it to the Excel centre to register, which is a much smoother process then expected, and actually a really fun few hours that almost got me excited for the run. Adidas had such a huge display of clothes to buy, motivating walls to write on, and a marathon count down board that we posed in front of with our race numbers. (I also bought some shorts, which I ended up racing in). – I wouldn’t normally recommend racing a long distance in kit you’ve never tested before, but it worked out okay for me.
Despite the fact that I am now living in London, I wanted to stay closer to the start and with my family at the Olympic village in Stratford. We spent the afternoon and evening enjoying the shops in Westfield, and also grabbed dinner there at the Jamie Oliver restaurant.
Me and my dad set our alarm’s for 6 and headed to the hotel breakfast which was very accommodating for runners. i fuelled up on bananas and berries in oats (I brought my own coconut milk down to breakfast), and I also had an omelette sandwich and a side of pineapple.
We made our way on the tube to London Bridge, then got the DLR to Maize Hill whilst I continued to fuel up on the healthy delicious banana bread I bought from Roots and Bulbs the day before! Finally we arrived in the wind and rain to the start point, and spent pretty much the whole time stood in the huuuuge toilet queue!
I started the race following the 3:15 pacer – I didn’t expect to get 3:15 but I was aware I had started the last marathon I had done at a pretty fast pace, so thought this was a good compromise. I really enjoyed running with this guy, he was consistent, friendly, encouraging and a really good runner (he had a 2:45 PB). I lost the pacer at around mile 11 due to the mass of people (this really is a slow marathon in terms of the amount of people slowing you down), but now having seen my mile splits it looks like I kept up the same consistent pace, or near enough.
I think it was around mile 12 that we got to Tower Bridge, It was so amazing to spot my boyfriend and mum (even if she was looking for me in the opposite direction) at this point. This is the first time either had watched me do a marathon and it was such a boost to see them!
I continued to feel strong, I think it was around mile 14 that I had to say a few things to myself about pain being temporary, to suck it up, that I was over half way there, I certainly wasn’t prepared to let myself “hit the wall” at this distance! The next few miles seemed to pass so quickly, I was in a good rhythm and decent pace and the mass of people and spectators were such a welcoming distraction.
Last year at the Gran Canaria marathon I didn’t use any gels, only water and energy drinks that got passed to me. I ran with 2 gels at London, I had a mouthful of one at 10 miles, half of the other at mile 17 (preparation for those last dreaded miles), and another mouthful at around mile 22 when I was still waiting for the big hard metaphoric wall to hit me in the face.
As I crept up to mile 18 I waited for the real pain to begin, where it had last time. The guys I run with at home all reminded me before that the race doesn’t really start until mile 20, which I remembered all too well. I got to mile 20 feeling strong, mile 21 and 22 the same. I hit mile 23 with a big crowd of spectators and Bruno Mars blaring out Up Town funk, I did my best version of Beyonce on the run which got everyone clapping me on.. such a buzz on top of knowing your only a 5k away from finishing!
Even feeling relatively good at mile 23 I didn’t feel safe and began working out how slowly I could plod if I hit the wall, and still make it under 3:30. I had estimated that I could run 10 minute miles at this point and I still might manage a time I would be happy with.
It was such a good feeling as I continued towards the last few miles feeling good, remembering how bad I had felt at this point at the first one I did. I got a final boost when I saw my boyfriend and Mum again in the last mile, then turning the corner to the clock to see that a PB was still achievable if I picked up the pace, which thankfully I had enough energy to do!
I scraped a new marathon time by just one minute (3:20), something I am so chuffed with considering the amount of people and the difficult training leading up to it. My amazing Dad beat me by 7 minutes, meaning we have both got Good For Age again for next year, and also at Boston!
I finished the marathon with a trip to Big Easy for lobster and chips, followed by a frozen yogurt, just what I needed.