Thursday, 27 April 2017

London Marathon

At 26.2 miles, any marathon is going to be a decent challenge for me. Add tarmac, plus 40,000 other runners and who knows how many thousand spectators into the mix, it's going to be busy and even more demanding. An epic run in many ways.

I chose to run in aid of Glossop Mountain Rescue Team. Knowing my completion of the marathon was what compelled people to part with hard earned cash for the MR team absolutely spurred me on. Thank you to each and everyone who has donated, it is very much appreciated and for a very worthy cause.

As I lined up on the start line (well about 800m back in the starting pen) I knew I had around £430 raised, so I was running each kilometre for just over £10. Believe me when I say that at about 22 miles I was breaking that down into 100m chunks and however hard my brain worked I just couldn't calculate what each 100m was worth...the tiredness had well and truly set in, but the distraction meant another mile or so passed before I was alongside the Tower of London and into the final stretch.

My training had gone really well during January. I decided to focus on road running pretty much exclusively because as a fell runner I avoid tarmac as much as possible. I needed to shift the balance and inoculate my legs against the repetitiveness of the hard surface. In February training took a back seat - not entirely what I had planned, but a trip of a lifetime to Tasmania meant that my attention was elsewhere. Come mid March, and with around 5 weeks to go a long run was cut short - knee pain. Ouch! The remainder of training was focused on healing well, and negating further discomfort while still getting in volume. So for example I did 10km runs on 3 consecutive days and no aggravation of the knee issue. Super. All set to run.

A selfie on Tower Bridge!
On the day, the weather was far warmer than recent running had been. My watch recorded 23 degrees as we made our way around London. The forecast of 13 degrees was certainly way lower than it actually was. Nutrition and hydration went well for me and it wasn't until around the 3 hour point that it started to get really quite tough. I'd already been taking walk breaks from around 25km. Then around 35km my knee started to really not be happy. I was certainly OK to carry on, and that's what I did, just with plenty of walk breaks and keeping the pace steady.

Along with seeing some club mates out supporting in Greenwich I'd been lucky enough to see a fellow Glossopdale Harrier around Docklands somewhere. Bumping into people you know is incredibly uplifting. If you're going to run a long race then I do recommend having someone out on the course to keep you motivated. Obviously the crowds are out in force and cheering you on, but there really isn't anything to match seeing a friendly face.

As my legs got heavier and I made my way down the Embankment on the final few kilometres who should I see again, but Jayne in her Welsh Dragon costume running along (she broke the world record in that hot costume!). Amazing to see her once, but twice!! We chatted and stayed together as Big Ben drew closer and closer. Both of us determined to keep moving. I totally have Jayne to thank for keeping me running in the final stretch. Sadly we lost each other with around 1km to go but as I turned onto the red tarmac of The Mall I knew I could run to the end....over the line and phew!!! I'd finished.

You then have the very well organised system of collecting a medal, a goodie bag with your finishers t-shirt and then your drop-bag from the lorry. It was here I bumped into another harrier, Cheryl, and we literally held each other up as we stumbled down through the tired and elated runners.

I am so happy and proud to have finished the London Marathon. Lasting memories will be of running with so many people around me, the noise from the crowds and loud speakers blasting out music, but mostly of the generosity and support from people back home. Donations to Glossop Mountain Rescue Team so far total £540 - a very big thank you from me and the team.

Also a big thank you to Tim - his support during my training has been amazing. From kicking me out of the door when I didn't want to, sports massages along the way, physio on my knee, picking me up in Stockport on the way home, post-marathon sports massage and super motivation - couldn't have done it without him.

A few official marathon is 26.2miles, or 42.16km. I recorded (and I started my watch about 2mtrs from the starting mats) 43.4km (26.96miles). It took me an official time of 4:27:04 and I ran at an average pace of 6:09 per kilometre. I recorded 135m of ascent. In training I struggled to find flat routes and in one of my 10km runs I did over 200m!!