My 2005 London Marathon

How was it for you? - Quotes and pictures from London 05


Posted: 23 April 2005

4:00 TO 5:00 (Page 10) Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Rich the Gooner, 4:59

A tale of the good, the bad and the recurring horny mammal.......

Saturday 8pm - an early downer, the hotel have let our rooms go; on the up side, a mate sneaks us in to the Novotel Greenwich (with en-suite marathon).

At the start we split into two pens, we're in pen 8, but are joined by mates from pen 9 by the time I've finished rearranging socks and laces. In the first three miles the crowds shout endlessly, but it's the nearby rhino they love - we try to shake him off, only to find the occupant is superhuman, cracking out the miles at will. All is well at 16 miles, the rhino has been overcome, and my heart races as I spot the family - only for them to look for, but not see me amongst the relentless wave of bodies.

Disaster strikes - cramp sets in like a plague of lobsters down the back of both legs; a massage would do it, but I wait five minutes only to be stood up for another victim - and limp on, unloved. Feeling alone in the crowd I battle on and get the reward of seeing my family again - they insist I shouldn't stop, then realise this is nothing new. Jelly babies, drinks and cuddles from my daughter and pregnant wife inspire me to get going again.

The heat's affected my brain - there are hazy memories of an angel in a red tracksuit making my legs work. Targets are long forgotten, but wait - there's still sub-five! A chance sighting of my Uncle and Auntie at Big Ben spur me to a final sprint and... SNAP, the lobsters are back and force me into a Basil Fawlty walk. A quick stretch, a forlorn look into the eyes of a random spectator shouting "Come on Rich", and the harsh reality of a fluffy dog coming up on the rails force me into motion.

Rhythm and style are long-departed acquaintances, but a shred of dignity lies halfway down the Mall and I snatch it with seconds to spare as I cross the line in 4:59:13. The months of sweat, snow and self-doubt are over as I pose for photos, as if this fantastic moment had never been in doubt.

The "ups" have it - people have seen me on telly (library pictures from the running-nicely moments); a picture of me with Emily and her "Go Daddy Go" banner adorns the BBC Marathon Index page; and to top it all I beat Floella Benjamin by 1:13... okay, it wasn't a lifelong ambition, but you take what you can get.

Tragically every silver lining has its cloud... I'm pictured in the Daily Mail on Monday... next to the rhino.

And my marathon epitaph? "At least one child would surely have gone to bed on Saturday night pleading: 'Whatever you do, Dad, don't get overtaken by a rhino'."

John Brown, 4:50

Many thanks to the Runner's World pacer. Sticking with the 11-minute mile group made my first marathon (at 57) a lot easier, and the last four miles were an amazing finish to a great event.

Coventry Cat, 4:22

What an amazing day!

I woke very early, way before my 6am wake-up call, opened the curtains at my hotel to see the clearest of blue skies. I stuffed breakfast down before greasing-up, kitting-up and caking on some sun-screen.

I wound my way through a lobby packed with fellow runners and headed to Victoria tube station. At Charing Cross I met a group of marathon veterans from Hillingdon - thanks guys for the excellent advice - hope you all realised your goals.

After a short walk through the very quiet London suburbs I reached Blackheath, where the sun beat down and the atmosphere was starting to build. I chilled out on the grass whilst listening to the radio over the PA and then hearing the elite woman's start at 9am.

I had a carbo gel, some 'lovely' Lucozade Sport and a bit of water and took a 'pit stop' before heading down to my starting pen with about 20 minutes to go before the gun. Chatting nervously to the everyone around me, as a second-time entrant I tried, probably unsuccessfully, to calm the nerves of a few first timers.

When the official 'off' eventually came we started to shuffle forward at a very slow walk... nearly 10 minutes passed before we reached the start line and at this point we had just broken into a slow jog.

Throughout the race the roads were so crowded the only pace possible was slow. This didn't bother me too much, it gave time to look around, smile as much as possible, soak up the atmosphere, applaud the bands and admire the sights.

The high point: crossing Tower Bridge, feeling fantastic and having more space around me than at any other point on the course.

The low point: it had to be around mile 10 – an ambulance came flying up from behind and as I moved out the way and saw the casualty, I felt very emotional. I hope he is now recovering...

One of the hardest things about the last 10K was trying to duck between the runners who had 'hit the wall' and were walking. They seemed to be out-numbering the runners, especially in the underpasses, and all but blocking the road.

From 24 miles onwards felt very emotional and I'm sure I had tears running down my face as I started to realise that I was going to achieve my goal. My legs were still with me and with the crowds were deafening me - I WAS going to just keep on running...

I finally reached the finish gantry and did the full 'arms above the head' show - serious euphoria! (I really hope at least one of that bank of photographers got a shot in?)

My tip: The slow pace meant that I felt great ALL the way and I didn't feel physically shattered at the end. I had only mild aches next day and Ibuprofen took the edge off them. In fact, the most uncomfortable side effect was a touch of sunburn!

Thank yous: to RW for the newsletters, the training schedule and probably most of all the RW forums for keeping me going over the past six months; to my charity, the Anthony Nolan Trust for the post race massage and friendly reception; to all the FLM volunteers along the route; my family - looking forward to getting us all together for the first time in over five months this Sunday - a REST day!

Kate Buckley, 4:55

About four days after the marathon, what I had achieved finally hit home. I was disappointed with myself for having to walk about a mile, and taking longer than expected, but I had been selling myself short, much to everyone else's surprise as they thought I was a hero.

After six miles I started to get blisters on my little toes and should have got them treated (hindsight is a wonderful thing!), but I plodded on. The pain in my calves was like nothing I had suffered before, at 16 miles I was in agony, determined to finish. Crying at the side of the road I felt so alone amidst 30,000 people; now I know how Paula had felt 'that day'. This was my lowest point - searching in desperation for the faces of my family along the route, I thought this is hell, never again!

At 23 miles I met a girl who I ran with me until the end (why couldn't I have met her earlier on?), As I ran up the Mall, the highlight of the race came as I heard my mum shouting for me. She had been waiting for me for five hours, and even through the pain my face lit up! My poor brother had completed his own marathon, running around London on crutches offering support!

Despite losing two toenails, I have decided I am going to do it again: I feel the whole experience has made me a much stronger person, both mentally and physically.

John Daley, 4:34

My worst moment on Sunday was getting home, only to find that my medal was missing from my goodie bag. I took it off after reaching the park because my neck was sore from the sunburn.

I have been in touch with the Marathon Office to see if they could help me, only to find that they were short on the day. Imagine running all that way and no medal at the end... at least I had mine before lost it!!

Keep on running

Harry, 4:07

This was my second FLM and I beat last year's time by 19 minutes - and a six-minute improvement on New York as well.

It was an utterly fantastic day in so many ways, right from not thinking anything of seeing a life-size Tigger wandering through London Bridge in the early morning! I had a slight panic when I absent mindedly ended up at the Red Start and had to then walk to the Green start, but got off to a good rhythm; I felt I was on target to beat my New York time.

The best moment: there are almost too many - going past Steve Redgrave at mile eight, seeing my sister and her children at mile 23 was really fantastic and kept me smiling almost for the rest of the way (except for feeling a blister burst on my left foot which was agony for the last mile!)

Seeing my parents on the bend as I came into the Mall out of the corner of my eye simply blew me to the finish line. The crowds shouting out "Go Harry" followed by confusion at me being a girl - entertained me all the way round...

The worst moment: possibly my blister popping, but actually I think it was seeing someone receive CPR on the roadside in the first half - made me feel sick with fear for about a mile!

The biggest surprise: feeling pain in my thighs so early on at mile 15; I had run a really measured first half and didn't expect the thigh muscles to start protesting so early on – it made the mental challenge kick in far too soon! Also being overtaken just before mile 26 by someone who was clearly a granny - certainly spurred me on - no way was she crossing the line before me!

Funniest moment: has to be speaking to my brother after I had finished - my four-year-old niece had burst into tears when Paula went over the finish line on TV - she had thought I was going to win – (bless)!

What would I do differently: listen to my body more during training – I over-trained early on and was out of action for about three weeks in March due to injury.

Key to success: friends and family, my trainer, a fantastic physio and actually sheer bloody-mindedness to compete against myself!

Next year? Bring it on - although am looking for a training partner for the Marathon des Sables - any takers?

Wads, 4:14

This was my first marathon and I was running for Scope - it was fantastic and I can still walk today!

Funniest bit: I had my name written on my vest and I was looking out for friends at mile 16. On hearing such a convincing "Rich, RICH, GO ON RICH, GO ON!" that I stopped, I ran back 20 metres only to realise that I didn't know the person cheering me on. We both started giggling. They got embarrassed for making me stop. Then giggling turn to mad laughter. That kept me going until mile 20 and then the crowds carried me home.

Worst bits: Turning the corner to see the Dome when I was expecting to see The Tower of London!; running through the tunnel on the Embankment and seeing people in agony at the side of the road when they were so close to the finish. It was spooky in there.

What I would do differently: Not drink as much water! Because it was so hot, I think I drank a full bottle at every water station for the first half of the race. After four toilet stops I figured I wasn't in any danger of dehydrating!

Best bits: Seeing friends, then the Scope gang and then my family all within a mile of each other at mile 17.

For my next marathon (yes, there will be another) I would like more advice on keeping myself hydrated correctly. I suffered from strong headaches after the Bath half-marathon and put it down to dehydration (although I had drunk two litres from my camelbak en route). As it was unusually warm on Sunday I wanted to make sure that didn't happen again, so although I made sure I sipped the water and didn't gulp it, I drunk way to much. The four toilet stops probably cost me 10 minutes... but then again the rest might have been more beneficial!

All in all it was a very special day and a rollercoaster of emotions.

Richard Sanders, 4:50

My training had gone well, up to a point. That 'point' having been five weeks before the day of the marathon, when work and backache conspired to prevent much happening in the crucial period of build-up. But I was still feeling confident, and with targets all worked out I went to the start area in Greenwich.

For those uninitiated in the marathon, the build up is a little bizarre - thousands of people sitting and standing around, all with one singular target, one goal, one mission... to go to the toilet before the race starts. I found myself waiting for 40 minutes in a queue before giving up and going in the bushes where everyone had already relieved themselves.

Although I was worried about the heat and my lack of running for the previous several weeks, I had decided to aim for four hours, so set out to beat the nine-minute milers I could see some way ahead of me. I jumped in and out of the pack, up and down the pavement, and by mile three I had overtaken both nine-minute mile groups and even talked to my mum on my mobile... I still felt good and was overtaking lots of people as I progressed. By mile six I began to feel a little tired, but still had plenty of energy and so pushed on.

By mile eight I had gone.

My legs felt like lead, my head felt light and so even though I had slowed down considerably, I had to stop and walk to see whether I needed some air or if there was something else wrong. When you walk in a marathon (especially so early on), your mind really exacerbates the situation.

I decided on a short walk break every mile from that point. This regime (plus a crucial Lucozade stop) kept me going over Tower Bridge and to the halfway point.

At mile 16 something happened that changed my race. Something from my past crept up on me and drove me forwards with more determination than I had been able to muster in the previous 10 miles or so...

Floella Benjamin tottered past me!

There was NO WAY she could beat me!

I then entered into a 'running battle' (geddit?) for the next five miles until eventually I saw her off after a strong mile of running and a spirited recovery walk.

20 miles is normally where you hit the wall. As I appeared to have hit the wall at about mile eight, the 20-mile marker was very welcome as it meant the push for home was about to begin. I ran my customary mile and then walked (panting) ready to go for mile 21 and then...

Argggghhhhhhh... no really, ARGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH... nnnnnnn... ggrrrhhhhh... I felt something 'go' in my right foot, or rather explode out of my right foot and into my trainer. It felt like my little toe had split in two. To be specific (skip this paragraph if you are feeling faint) I could feel every nerve ending in my little toe being grated across the front of my trainer as if the bone had been laid bare.

Then the same thing happened to my left foot. At this point, with knees and Achilles aching, too, you start to think your body is telling you something, but at the same time all I was thinking was 'get to mile 25'.

If you haven't grasped the pain and inner battle of the previous 25 miles (it possibly feels like a marathon just to be reading this), then the experience of the last mile might not make sense: I really enjoyed it. This enjoyment is best described as being as close to tears as you can be without crying, close to screaming in celebration without shouting, a quiet, single-mindedness just to finish.

So I made it. And whilst had missed my target by almost an hour, my relief at crossing the line was overpowering and felt like nothing on this earth. Together we raised around £1,500 for the Children's Society, so thank you all for your help and often hugely generous contributions.

Remember a 'real' marathon is when you run for over 4:30...

David Bennett, 4:30

Well, what can I say. What a fantastic day, almost everything was perfect, the weather was superb; the pain in my legs nothing compared to the pain from my sunburn. I really wanted to run sub-four, but I could only shave off four minutes from my previous time. I guess I need to train a little harder for next year.

The atmosphere was the best I have ever seen. It was truly ecstatic - thank you to all the supporters, without whom the London Marathon would not hold the title of the "world's number one marathon".

However, I didn't care for the course change that much, it seemed that you were going uphill more than last year. Please bring back the Tower and the cobbles, they are just as much a part of the marathon, and you are missing a massive piece of history by not including them.

Thank you all for your support, your training logs, and the runners forums where we can all pat each other's backs.

Bring on 2006.

Wendi, 4:58

Three years ago, if anyone said I would ever run a marathon I would have laughed and laughed... So I am still in shock that I have done it!

It was a great day; I ran with two rhinos, saw wombles, a Tigger, a few Scooby Doos and Mr Men, a pair of speakers, a wheelchair, a lot of fairies, a boat, and an incredible fire engine.

I wobbled my way round; it was going well until about mile 16, when my calf muscle decided to act like lead and my poor little leg stopped being flexible. Tiger balm donated by a fellow Guide Dogs runner helped me out, as did some Nurofen.

I found some reserves of energy and came in just under five hours, and although I'm not certain of my time, I don't care.

I am now finding walking a new challenge; stairs are my biggest hill reps. Perhaps I'll try for next year?

Well done everyone!

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