My 2005 London Marathon

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


Posted: 24 April 2005

5 HOURS+ (Page 6) Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Northern Snail, 5:36

It’s 8.30am on a warm sunny Sunday morning and I'm stood at the Blue start area on Blackheath common with thousands of other runners waiting for the start of the 25th Flora London Marathon.

This is the part when the nerves are fighting with the excitement of being here, one part of me is saying 'what are you doing here among all these super-fit looking people?' while another bit of me is saying 'you've trained for it, you know you can do it, just get out there and enjoy yourself.'

9.00am and the tannoy is announcing the start of the Elite women's race. 'Go on Paula, you can win this race' is the general comment circulating through the crowds.

9.30am and the tannoy is calling everyone to get to the starting pens ready for the start, the excitement has taken over from the nerves and as I look around I know it's going to be a good day for the race.

9.45am and we're off. Well, it's a slow shuffle as those in the first starting pens head off into the distance, but it doesn't matter as we are all using electronic chips to record our start and finish times.

9.55am and I'm through the start, no turning back now. The first few miles are taken at a slow trot as people start to spread out then we see the runners from the Red start merging with us on the left, a lot of good natured booing goes on as we run alongside each other.

Turning a corner after the six-mile point and I can see the masts of the Cutty Sark above the rooftops, running round the bow of this famous clipper ship the roar of the crowd is deafening and gives all the runners a tremendous feeling of support.

Further along the course and we pass the 11-mile point still going strong, as we come to the water station a runner behind me stumbles into me and as I recover from his collision I feel my ankle give with a sharp pain. A couple of minutes later and there's nothing serious with the ankle, just a strain as I went over so it’s off again with the thought of 15 miles to go.

Turning a corner just after the 12-mile point and there's Tower Bridge ahead, what a magnificent sight as we all run under those famous towers.

13 miles and we are running on one side of the carriageway with the faster runners returning past their 22-mile marker on the other side of the road.

14, 15, 16 miles and we are still going strong with a never ending chorus of cheering and support from the thousands of spectators lining the route. 17 miles and there are the signs for the Runner’s World forum cheering point, a quick stop to say ‘hi’ and meet some friends from the forum and it’s off again, along past Canary Wharf and the HSBC tower block.

18, 19, 20 miles are passing by and I am starting to get trouble from my ankle, nothing serious, just an irritating ache.

21 miles and we are now on the 'other side' of the road.

22 miles and I have trouble, the lopsided gait I have been running to protect my ankle has caused my hips to start to ache, so it’s time to slow down and concentrate on being fit enough to finish.

22 to 25 miles are very slow as I concentrate on finishing, more walking than running now.

Along the Embankment to Big Ben and as we turn into Great George St there's less than a mile to go, Birdcage Walk with St James Park is alongside us then it's a short turn into the roundabout outside Buckingham Palace, wonder if the Queen is watching, the final turn into The Mall and there it is: the finish line.

Only a couple of hundred yards to go then I'm there, I've done it, I've completed my first London Marathon. My finishing time 5:36, a bit slower than I wanted but I've finished.

The aches and pains drop away as the girl at the finish line puts the medal round my neck. A slow walk to collect my bag from the baggage area and off to find my friends, time to celebrate.

Jenny G, 6:38

As a first-timer I had no idea really what to expect, and boy did I learn a lot during those six hours! About myself, about the kindness of others and about what anyone can achieve which I never ever thought possible, especially for me, the one almost always picked last in PE.

Late to the start at Greenwich,I had just time to stow my stuff and join the runners at the back. The gun had gone off 10 minutes before, taking my running partner Jackie off with the crowd with promises to meet up later quickly sent by text.

I met up with Jackie at around three miles after chasing at a faster pace than I'd wanted. It meant we'd all but abandoned the walk/run strategy in the elation of just doing the marathon. A BIG mistake. Seeing our families at Tower Bridge was wonderful, and seeing how proud my parents were as I was handed water and a hug!

Soon after that we started paying the price for abandoning the walk breaks. At mile 14 everything hurt, and when we saw the runners were coming the other way at mile 22, the tears came.

The low was so low it was indescribable. I begged Jackie to leave me and go on, but she refused and told me off. My back felt like I'd been kicked by a horse, but with Jackie’s encouragement and a couple of Nurofen we soldiered on, walking a lot but determined. One runner coming the other way shouted ‘it gets easier!’ We replied ‘errrm, yeah, right…’

The Mile 17 forum supporters were a sight for sore eyes. I missed my team totally, I was hot, confused and desperately looking for my husband who was still at Mile 13, unaware we had passed him and desperately worried. A small boy thrust a tiny blue bag into my hand and shouted ‘go!’ at me. That tiny blue bag was such a comfort through those next six miles and that little lad’s voice stayed with me, urging me on.

At around mile 19 Jackie suggested taking up the run/walk strategy again. It helped having that focus instead of running aimlessly and seemingly getting nowhere as we had been. Then we realised we were the only ones around us still running! What a high it was to hear the supporters still on the course say in amazement ‘They are still running! Go girls, keep running, you can do it!’

Over and over, we chose people to pass and aimed for them, until we spotted our families again at miles 22 and 23. On the Embankment my girls chased us along running along the pavement screaming ‘Come on Mummy, you can do this, come on!’

We realised the runner had been right! It had got easier, and although our language got bluer, we just wanted to cross that line, and all of a sudden there it was: 800m to go. We ran and ran until we had nothing left. The split shows the last two kilometres were at 10K pace. How, I have no idea.

The thrill of crossing the line was incredible, and took days to sink in properly. We did it. We'll be back for another go now we know we can do it.

AliD2, 5:58

Worst moment: The week before - being absolutely terrified that I was going to let everyone down. My knees and hip had been playing up all year and I just didn't know if they'd hold out.

Best moment: There are loads: waking up to find that for the first time in several weeks my knees weren't hurting; the glorious weather; realising at mile 20 that despite my longest run being 15.5 miles I was going to be able to do the whole lot, with no stopping and no walking - okay, I jogged slowly but jog it all I did; seeing my boyfriend at mile 25 and screaming to him that I'd not stopped yet...

...realising that despite my initial low expectations of myself I was on for a sub-six-hour time, and sprinting down the Mall to make sure of it; imagining holding the hand of my daughter Sophie as I crossed the line (Sophie died aged 14 in 2002; she would have just turned 18 at the time of the marathon. We'd intended to run together this year as she'd worked out that by virtue of her April birthday she'd have been one of the youngest-ever runners) - I knew she was with me all the way...

...telephoning my son Will to tell him I'd finished and I felt great (I'd sent him to represent us at the FA Cup semi-final (for Man Utd) as I hadn't wanted him to see me in the exhausted state of collapse I thought I'd be) and hearing the pride in his voice; being treated by friends, family and workmates as a hero all week.

Things I'd do differently: I can't say for certain, but my injuries all developed when I started adding in the recommended speedwork, so in future I'll just stick to my one-paced stuff. It’s okay for those who want to get PBs, but for an elderly plodder like me maybe not the thing to do.

Nothing lasts forever with my 19-year-old son, though... five minutes after I'd rung him he rang me back. I was still in the repatriation area, beaming with pride. "Mum", he said, "how much d'you reckon a taxi from Cardiff to Bristol would be?" (I might add we live in Shropshire so not something I'd really know at the best of times!)

Can I enter this for the 'oddest question at the finish line' competition?

David Cullen, 5:30

I had a massive attack of post-marathon blues; I started crying at 5am Monday morning and still had tears in my eyes Tuesday morning. I’m feeling a lot better now though, having realised that it was just because I was so, so exhausted.

I had a great day – I was dressed in a Japanese silk suit, carried my replica guitar the whole way round and finished in five and a half hours.

This was my first ever marathon and I had never run until training began last September. I met lots of wonderful people and have become very fond of my adopted charity, CRISIS. I will definitely do this again.

tinygirl, 5:25

I don't know who had the toughest time - me running the race or my other half Chris attempting four meetings with me along the way!

He managed two of them, choosing to omit the Cutty Sark rendezvous when he saw how crowded it was. First, he settled himself in with the wonderful supporters at Mile 17 with Meerkat, Steph et al, and found himself part of the team, cheering all the forumites on and snapping away with his camera. I reached there behind schedule but enjoyed my cup of hazelnut-flavoured coffee, jelly babies and banana very kindly offered by Meerkat (the woman is a marvel) and then went on my way.

I next saw Chris with the Marie Curie lot (my charity) on the Embankment at 24 miles, just picked up a kiss there, but that gave me enough energy to trot to the line in a steady 5:25.

We failed to meet up at the end so went our separate ways to our reception hotel (I think he planned the last "miss" so he wouldn't have to carry my heavy kitbag back to the hotel) I thoroughly enjoyed my first ever marathon, and have already entered my next race in June.

What I would do differently: definitely train harder, because even though I got round okay, it was a plod rather than a run.

I didn't have a worst moment, all were positives, but the best moment was reaching the Mile 17 crew, which was just fabulous!

Built for comfort, 7:13

I started running last June, four stone overweight and after 20 years of very little exercise. For some reason in the summer it seemed like a good idea to celebrate turning 40 by running the London marathon. And I did it. I am stunned.

The best moment was seeing my friends 200m from the finish; the worst was the previous 10 miles! I was exhausted, and my right thigh kept cramping, forcing me to an even slower crawl than usual. I just kept thinking that this was it, this is what had dominated my time for four months, all those long runs that took forever because I am so slow.

The crowd were amazing, so encouraging. At 25 miles I was bent over, staring at the tarmac trying not to think about how much my legs hurt, and how exhausted I felt. One of the marshals got my attention and said ‘enjoy as much of it as you can’. My first reaction was the desire to cry, but then I realised he was right. I put my head up and decided I was not going to miss this! It took me an age but I did it.

I am still weary and even a bit low, after weeks of excitement and worry at the thought of the marathon I almost cannot believe it is over.

Will I do it again? On the way round I kept telling myself ‘never again, I am not putting myself through this again’. But now? Maybe … just maybe...

S Wood-Brignall, 6:33

Amazingly, I am okay. I have no aches or blisters and had the most fantastic time of my life.

I managed to see my family four times on the way round. My mum cried every time she saw me, she was so proud. She could not believe how comfortable I was and how much I was enjoying myself.

I danced to YMCA outside a pub, I kissed a policeman and I had to do a bit of a striptease as I got a bit hot, much to the amusement of the local lads watching. I didn’t care.

I was running in memory of two great friends who died of cancer for my chosen charity, Cancer Research. Carol and Maurice looked down on me every step of the way. I did not get cramp, pain or wished I had never started the event. The only thing I got was sunburn on my shoulders and neck!

My twin sister met me just before the Mall and ran for a 30 seconds with me. My husband got to the Mall in time to see me finish. A lady asked him to move out of her way and he said 'See that lady running? That’s my wife, Sandra, and she is finishing her first Marathon and I am not moving.' With that, all the crown started chanting ‘Sandra! Sandra!’

The fun didn’t stop when I got home on Monday. I am a cub leader, and on Monday I took my medal and shirt etc to cubs to show them. When I got there they were holding their own Marathon evening. They did 26 tasks 26 times for sponsorship. At the end of the evening I was told that the money raised was for me for Cancer Research. I cried. On returning home from cubs all my neighbours turned up with a huge chocolate cake and bubbly and congratulation cards for me. It looked like it was my birthday.

Krystyna, Maurice’s widow, who is my best friend, drove down from Salisbury, armed with a bunch of yellow roses for Carol, as I used to always buy her a bunch for her birthday; a bunch of lilies for Maurice as he used to buy them for Krystyna, and a big bottle of bubbly for me and her to celebrate my success. Krystyna also presented me with £300 sponsorship.

I have been overwhelmed with the support and response I have had of people. And believe it or not, I cannot wait to go out running again. I now have the running bug!

Charlotte Maddison, 5:04

I followed the four-hour training schedule almost to the letter, until I came down with a bout of ‘flu at Easter. I managed to recover and get back on target for four hours (I thought). At the start line I looked around me and realised that this was pie in the sky, and accepted that 4.30 would be an acceptable outcome. I eventually managed 5.04.54. I was so disappointed not to get under five hours, but it was my first marathon so at least it is a PB.

Worst moments: Getting runner’s tummy at miles 10 and 12 and queuing for the loo for 20 minutes. Seeing all the collapsed runners - my nursing instinct made me want to stop and help everyone. Hitting 'the wall' at mile 20. I walked until about 22.5 miles and something inside motivated me to get running again. Getting overtaken by a Womble in the last mile, which provided the final surge to pick things up. I thought ‘if he can do this in that suit, in this heat then so can I’. I managed to overtake him... I’m not usually that competitive, but it made me feel better. I cried when I finished, I cried at bed time, and I cried when I woke up.

Best moments: Being given an ice-pop by a spectator at mile 15. Seeing my friends at mile 19.

Minnie Moo, 5:06

£1500 for Cancer Research UK. Woweeee - 32 minutes off my PB! No wonder I have a big grin. The best bit once again was the support - especially turning the corner at Surrey Quays knowing somewhere close my family were waiting for me with malt loaf and jelly babies.

The worst bit - don't even go there - 22 miles (Mike my running pal - thanks for sticking with me even though you'd have easily broken five hours).

But what I'm most proud of - seeing the mile-24 marker and vowing not to stop - and I didn't!

Finally most bizarre - looking my photos up on Actionphoto to discover an impostor with my number. Pah!

Stressed But Fabulous 5:53

I took up running in December 2004 in order to do the marathon, and it was one of the best days of my life. The crowds were fantastic and what an incredible atmosphere. The best moment for me was going along tapping all the kids' hands and feeling like royalty!

The first few miles just seemed to fly by. The biggest surprise was the tunnel... I hadn't expected that! It felt weird running through there with no supporters, just lots of tired runners all feeling the same way as me, I imagine.

My worst moment: I didn't really have one, I had times when I felt sick and had to walk instead of run, and moments when I got pains in my hips and calves, but not nearly as bad as I had expected. I never found the wall, I never for one moment thought I wouldn't make it.

If pushed, I would say the worst moment is now, because despite feeling so proud of myself for doing it, I know its all over and its back to normal life...although running/jogging will now be a feature of that life!

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