As the Easter holidays came screeching to a halt, we all tumbled back into our usual routine for a rest. I’m not really a people person. This week though, the support from friends, family and people I’ve never met was incredible. Before, during and after the London Marathon, those people made the experience one I’ll always remember.
A weekend in London
It came as a bit of a shock last October when I got a ballot place for the London Marathon. A winter of running followed, cumulating in a 17 mile run a few weeks ago. That was the furthest I’d run since doing the Gower Ultra Marathon back in 2016.
On Saturday, I headed down to London first thing in the morning. I was panicking that if my train was delayed, I could miss registration. Luckily, I arrived at the Excel just before midday. Registration was relatively quick and painless, so my next stop was the Hampstead Ponds for a swim. I hoped I’d have some spare time in the afternoon, so I asked on my Instagram stories for recommendations on where to swim. Most people recommended Hampstead ladies pond, so that’s where I went.
Hampstead Heath and the swimming ponds were an absolute revelation. It was like stepping out of London into a beautiful countryside oasis. Any inflammation from travelling soon disappeared. I headed to my sister’s house feeling refreshed and ready for the race. My sister and her boyfriend kindly let me stay and fed me plenty of carbs both for dinner and for breakfast on the morning of the race. Better still, they live within 15 minutes walk of the start line.
Running the London Marathon
From the moment the race started, the support from spectators was incredible. People lined the streets cheering for everyone. Most spectators are there to cheer on either an individual or people running for a charity. However, they only see ‘their’ runners very briefly. So while they wait for them to pass, they cheer for everyone else.
I had my name on the front of my running vest and could regularly hear people supporting me by calling my name. Numerous people held up banners. These ranged from the name of the person they were there to support, through to funny quotes like, “Pain is just the French word for bread”, and, “If Donald Trump can run America, you can run the marathon.”
I found the run easier than anticipated. I didn’t go too fast at the start, or worry about my pace. I took in the atmosphere, chatted to a few people running at a similar pace and enjoyed every moment of it. The great thing about all the support is you almost forget that you’re running and concentrate on everything else that’s going on. I finished the marathon in 4 hours 50 minutes.
I recovered quickly and was back to swimming the day after and running yesterday. In fact, I’ve already applied for next year’s race. If I get a place in that though, it will be a bit different. I’ve agreed to push my friend Martyn around the course in his wheelchair.
Thursday photo #160
The girls stayed at home with their dad while I went to London on Saturday. They spent the morning making a banner to support me during the race. I managed to spot them briefly, but I’d already ran past so it was too late to stop because it would be a bit like swimming against the tide. I also totally failed to take any photos of them during the week, so here’s a quick early morning snap I grabbed this morning.