The race all runners want to run: the London Marathon. In 2015, after years of unsuccessful ballot entries and Smurfs rejection letters, I was lucky enough to get a Good For Age entry. I made it to the green start line, and was ecstatic to be running the race that for years I had only managed to watch on the TV. I had taken the training seriously and despite the slight set back of a kidney infection, had managed to gain a new half marathon PB of 90.17. London was my opportunity.
I started off fast – probably a bit too fast, which is a re-occurring theme in my running career. There are 3 different starting locations, which all merge together at some point, early on. The chances of bumping into someone you know are extremely slim. So slim I can’t even fathom the odds. Jason had started at the blue start and somehow managed to end up right behind me at about 3 miles in. Even more bizarrely we ran into our club mate, James, about 6 miles in. I had prepared for a lonely (well as lonely as packed out London could be) marathon so companionship added another dimension to the race.
I anticipated that both Jason and James would leave me at some stage, so I tried to ride with them for as long as I could. However, I felt amazing and decided to keep the pace going, this could only go one of two ways… James, using experience, decided not to go with us. So Jason and I, ran on through the streets of Canary Wharf, me missing Cutty Sark (I know how?) Mile 20 ish and James was back. Maybe I had gone too fast after all…
Yes, darkness fell at mile 22 and both Jason and James pressed on. leaving me to face Big Ben on my own. I walked twice, only for a few seconds but it seemed to signal the beginning of the end… And then there was some sort of second wind. With about 2.5 miles to go, I got it together, I caught James and didn’t really know what to say, so tried to go by discretely. Then it was the end – let’s do a token ‘sprint finish’! Finishing with a 3.17 – I’ll take that.
Post race: we had all arranged to meet at a pub, so off I limped. On arrival, I congratulated other runners but couldn’t locate any I actually knew. I made myself a bit more presentable and when I returned found some club mates (and Jason, who is a club mate as well but you know), we then proceeded to drink pints of porter sitting on a pub floor until we could manage to stand again.
London Marathon is as good as you think it’s going to be, possibly better, depending on your standards, so keep going – enter that ballot, run other marathons to get that GFA time. My London Marathon experience was even more memorable as Jason and I experienced it together (well at least most of it anyway!)