After using the ladies' urinals which in itself was very bizarre - seeing rows of women using pee-mates is something not to be forgotten in a hurry - I lined up at the Blue start, Pen 9 and was feeling ok after my previous night's nerves. I had an injury four weeks before the Marathon so was very happy to make it to the start line.
I had met a girl Linsey half an hour earlier who was terrified of what lay ahead so we set off together. I didn't hear the starting gun and just moved forward with everyone else, 15 minutes later we were off! Me: ex-couch potato, three stone lighter and with just over a year of running, doing the London Marathon!
It was clear that Linsey was a much quicker runner than me so I told her to leave me but she didn't want to so we began our marathon as we were to end it, together. I am a lone runner, always have been, I've done the bulk of my training on my own and have never really minded but I have to admit it was nice to have some company (apart from the other 30,000 of course!)
Straight away we needed a toilet break the sweeper vehicle overtook us so we had to run fast(-ish!) to catch it up.
I remember looking round at everyone at mile 6 and have to say some people looked absolutely knackered!
I was ok until mile 10 then my legs started aching in places they had never ached in all my 18,20 and 22 mile long runs but I kept going after a brief drink and stretch.
Few miles further and another toilet break. We were queuing for what felt like ages and it was getting very hot. I remember getting to mile 16 and saying to Linsey we only have 2x5 miles to go - I was feeling ok, but it was so hot at times and there isn't any shade.
At mile 18 we were trying to run but it seemed everyone was walking so we decided to walk as it was too much hassle trying to run through everyone.
Then at mile 20 or so Linsey's knee went and she was in a lot of pain we went to the nearest St John's Ambulance tent where a physio worked on her knee for five minutes and said it would be ok for now but could go again soon. Off we went running then half a mile later Linsey's knee went agin and she could no longer run more that a few feet without it hurting.
So we walked/hobbled for the last five miles. I could have left her of course but I didn't want to, times were forgotten and we had a really good laugh.
Going over Tower Bridge has to be one of my favourite memories of the day - amazing! Along with running with Rhino man, Dinasour man, being hosed down by hunky firemen and being overtaken near the end by a pair of testicles, Rhino man again and finishing very near the guy with the big lion on his back.
We were fed all the way round by very kind people. I had about a million opal fruits, jelly babies, a lolly, a mars bar, a piece of orange and my favourite after all those sweets a lovely ham sandwich with fresh orange. YUM!
The whole day was amazing - I loved it! The crowds shouting your name, the atmosphere, the other runners all supporting each other, children holding their hands out for high fives.
My target time was 5-5:30 as indicated by my training runs. I crossed the finish line in 6:18.34.
I know I could have done a quicker time. I had trained very hard doing numerous 18 milers, three 20 milers and one 22 miler and I was at times annoyed with myself for not pushing harder as I had done in training runs. But I had a fantastic day made a friend for life and have the best memories of such a special event!
Next year? Definately, I want a new PB!