Well, there you have it, it’s all over. To be perfectly honest with you I never thought I’d even get to run London this year, let alone write this post but as I type, I have London completed with a PB to boot and am now resting in readiness for the Milton Keynes Marathon a week on Monday!
I woke up on Sunday to beautiful sunshine which kind of made up for the awful nights sleep I’d had. I normally sleep like a log, but even though I was in bed by 11pm I woke at 1am, 3am, 5am (because a coach was trying to get out of the hotel car park before the road was closed – our hotel was on mile 14/21 on the Highway) until eventually at 6:15am I gave it up as a bad job and got up. Good job really as my watch battery died so my alarm wouldn’t have gone off anyway!
My other half and one of our friends came with me to the start which was nice. They got to see Blackheath in all its glory and the mass of people milling around taking photos and making small talk. I was in pen 5, the same as last year. The whistles sounded for the start of the silence for Boston. After a few seconds of shushing silence descended. It seemed a lot longer that the 30 seconds advertised but gave a good few moments to think about those affected by events in Boston last week and to allow London to pay their respects. A rousing applause greeted the end of it and we were then on our way. Within three minutes I had crossed the line and was running, as always though I was down to a walk within a couple of hundred metres. It was slow going for the first six or so miles. I planned on 9 minute miles so when the RW pacers came past me at mile two I latched on the back of them. There were a few boos at mile three as the red and blue starts merged which was fun. By mile 6 the pacer I was following just stopped. I’m not sure what the problem was but he disappeared from view completely. The 3:45 pacer then came past me – I was running just about on schedule so it shows how different the two starts are in crossing the line. I resigned myself to the fact that the 3:56 pacer would not be back and then got on with the task in hand.
It was hot so I made sure I took on water. I had put some Zero tablets in my gel belt so made sure I put half a tablet in my water. One of the funniest sights of the day was a group of lads, sat on a leather sofa, beer in hand on the path with a BBQ on the go! Nice touch I thought. I saw the DLRR gang at mile 7 – just! Did my usual trick of being on the wrong side of the road but just saw them in time although to wave at them it meant a bit of backwards running, no mean feat with that volume of people. The next few miles were comfortable. I passed the former Olympian Kelly Sotherton – I felt a lot better than she looked, which gave me a boost! Not everyday you leave an Olympic medalist standing! My achilles had been tight for the first few miles but by now I couldn’t feel any issues at all. I reached 10 miles bang on 1:30 and felt great.
Tower Bridge was as special as I remembered. You turn a corner and climb up and over it. The wall of noise is loud the whole way round but on here it is almost overwhelming. We were over it all too quickly and off down the Highway towards my hotel. At halfway I spotted some DLRR supporters (the orange Oakley hoodies are so clear in the crowd!) and then a bit further on was my husband and friends. I made sure I was smiling for the photograph and plodded on. By 16 I was feeling really good – this was the point last year I started to implode so psychologically I was all over Docklands. The only problem was the course narrows considerably and it was difficult to keep an even pace going. Round past Canary Wharf I was picking people off but was starting to really feel the heat. A group of fireman at mile 19 had the hoses on which was great although it wasn’t quite a trickle of water…more like a deluge!
I hit 20 miles bang on three hours, which if I’m honest I was a little disappointed with, I’d have preferred a few minutes under, but the two or three miles where I’d been held up really seem to have made a difference. But I was now into the final 10k. I’d run out of Zero tablets by this point so was cautious about taking too much water on but got stuck into my gels. I passed a fellow DLRR runner at 21. We exchanged pleasantries, or as much as you can after 21 miles and I carried on my way. Back down on the Highway I started to feel good – I had an urge to push on but a little voice inside me told me to hang back as there was still a way to go yet. As those final miles came it was getting harder and harder, my legs felt fine but my head was starting to go. I reached 23 still bang on pace in 3:27 and then boom! Something clicked and I stopped. I’ve no idea why, but the tunnel just after the 23 mile mark just made me stop. I carried on walking and managed to break back into a jog but the rhythm was broken. Normally I can have a word with myself and get back on it, but not this time. I had sub four laid out in front of me and I walked along while it slipped away. I pulled it back together a bit towards 25. Mainly I think because I knew both the DLRR supporters and my husband and friends would be along there somewhere – I managed a rather feeble high five with one of the DLRR lads when I saw them but didn’t even see my other half – he saw me though!
Somewhere in that final two miles a bloke grabbed my hand and made me run with him for a good half a mile. I’ve no idea who he was but thank you! We finally reached Big Ben and turned towards Birdcage Walk. I was shuffling along by now but as we turned at Buckingham Palace I suddenly remembered how to run and put in a good spurt down the finishing straight. I’d realised that I’d missed a sub-four time but I was buggered if it was going to be by much. I crossed in 4:02:53 and despite the self destruction in the last few miles, I was actually pretty pleased with myself. At the end of February I limped home after only four miles of a club run after my achilles had flared back up again. I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact it was over, but through some very careful slow running, physio and lots of stretching I somehow have managed to pull off a 14 minute PB in around seven weeks training – what might have been eh!
I’m now going to run the Milton Keynes Marathon on 6th May and if someone could pop up between 24 and 26 miles to give me a big kick up the a*se when I throw my toys out of the pram again that would be rather grand!
Quite fitting that this should be my 100th post!