On Sunday I completed my 6th marathon, the Virgin London Marathon, and what an experience! You might have read my post on running this marathon back in 2011, my first marathon, and if not, you should.
Last 12 months saw me training for 3 marathons, which never happened in my life before. I was kind of used to running a marathon once a year, had a break from running as was pregnant and gave birth to our second born daughter.
I originally didn’t plan that to happen but was super lucky and opportunities came thanks to this blog which I love and treasure. It’s true that not everyone wants to or enjoys running marathons, but I do, and the more I do the more I love it!
But back to the point. You are here to read about my experience running the famous London Marathon, and that’s exactly what I am going to do.
As the London Marathon was the one that completely changed my life back in 2011, I knew it would be very emotional and special to be back on the streets of London 8 years later… and it was.
When I ran the Malaga Marathon in December 2018, I ran it with my friend and the experience was so different from what I am used to. I was not as nervous as we shared everything, the tears, the worries, the nerves. Running it was so much easier for me as I was there to support her and wasn’t focussing on myself as much.
My training for the London Marathon went really well, no injuries, no up and downs, and I knew I worked really hard and wasn’t really worried about completing.
As I had some great help from Team Polar and their running coach Nick Anderson and my Polar Vantage V watch, I felt more than ready and the nerves only started kicking in when I popped by their stand at the Expo when collecting my running number. It suddenly got to me, that it was finally here. It was amazing seeing all the excited runners.
I tried to stay calm and managed to until the Saturday before the race day. I started overthinking things and started panicking.
Many people run marathons with a certain time in mind, probably most… In 8 years I have improved my time since running the first one, but it was not intentionally, mainly as I was getting fitter and fitter, and was able to push myself on the day.
I actually get a bit annoyed when people expect you to need to beat your time every time you run a marathon. Every time is a different experience and I do not want to change, I want to run it to enjoy the experience, not to get another PB. That’s me and on the other hand, also respect that many do it for their PBs.
Anyway, I managed to calm down and stopped being focused on what time I would finish. I suddenly felt so much better, had fun with my daughters and hubby and started to relax.
That night I slept well. I was so pleased I was able to stop worrying about the time.
The next morning I had my favourite pre-marathon breakfast of porridge, bananas and blueberries, got dressed and caught the tube to London bridge. Then a short train to Blackheath and seeing all the marathon runners with their numbers pinned to the front pushed tears in my eyes.
I soon joined the start wave I was supposed to and was trying to keep moving. The weather wasn’t great for sunglasses, but I still decided to wear my new Optishokz Revvez as I got used to them in past few weeks. I had a guy coming up to me wondering how I was able to get my hands on these before these were available to buy.
When the wave started to move, I did too, and suddenly I was passing through the start line. One thing that was very different for me in comparison to 2011 was that I was at the start with the normal crowds nor celebrities…. so you can imagine the number of people….. but it wasn’t too bad.
As it was cold, there were many people suddenly throwing their tops to the sides and a few were right under my feet, which could have caused people to trip. I kept my old running jacket for a bit longer, and once I was properly warm-up I threw my top to the side when it was safe.
Sadly there were a few occasions when other runners were inconsiderate of others, trying to be faster and elbowing others to be in front of them. Anytime I see this happening I feel sad, as I don’t think this is necessary and really think people should be more considerate of others.
There were a few times I was high-fiving some little children spectators and had other runners passing through nearly amputating my arm. Luckily most runners are great people and worry about others too. So many times I have seen people supporting others who were not able to run anymore or needed some help.
I was really surprised about the number of people supporting, the crowds started literally right after the start and never thinned out. That actually caught me and my family off guard a bit, as we didn’t expect that it would be so crowded. It definitely massively changed since 2011…
I kept on running my pace, tried to enjoy the run and the atmosphere. all was going great. The first moment when I had that overwhelming feeling was when we were getting closer to Tower Bridge. I shared a few happy tears, and absolutely LOVED all the cheering and support.
One thing I forgot to mention was that I didn’t know you don’t get your name printed on the running number ( that really should be changed), and only realised on Sunday morning when my hubby was pinning the race number on me…. asking where my name was? That meant that nobody was shouting my name…. which was a bit of shame, especially it would have been nice in the last few km of the marathon when I needed it.
My family were waiting by mile 21, like many other people, and when I passed the mark I started panicking as I couldn’t see them. I really wanted to see my girls and my hubby, to give me the extra encouragement. Luckily a few metres later I spotted my younger one on daddy’s back and then even my older daughter. A few quick kisses, hugs and off I was again. That was the moment when I realised there was no way they would manage to see me at mine 25… and I am pleased I came to the conclusion and wasn’t gutted when I did not see them at the most difficult part of the race.
The running of the last mile or so was unforgettable. I loved all the crowds, but I also couldn’t wait to finish. When we reached St James Park and all the crows, I started feeling very emotional and it was hard to get any faster with so many people around me. I wasn’t worried and didn’t even look at my running watch. I took a few deep breaths and wanted to absorb the atmosphere as much as possible.
Running the last few metres on the Mall was exactly how I remembered it. I passed through the finish line, pressed stop on my watch and was very happy and proud.
After receiving my medal and a bag with some refreshments and a t-shirt, I headed to the meeting point to meet my family. Unfortunately, it took them much longer to get there as there were some changes to the way you could access the Horse Guard parade. The joy of seeing them and showing them my medal was indescribable.
This was the first year when the ballot to enter to run the Virgin London marathon 2020 was open on the day of the actual marathon. My husband has signed up and I did too, as would love to run it with him. The chances are very low, but we are very optimistic and believe this dream will come true.
On Tuesday I went to help with reading at my younger daughter’s class, and the teacher asked me if I could tell the children something about the experience.
My daughter had my medal around her neck and was so proud. All the little 7-year-old faces on me, listening about running and marathons. One of them stood up and said it was a big achievement! I was in tears. I realized how important it is to be a role model for these little ones. Who knows, maybe one day one of these will be a marathon runner?
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