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My first marathon, well chuffed that I finished still running, best experience was the crowd support without a doubt.
Worst experience was getting past pedestrians (people crossing the road) and those who had started to walk rather than run where doing so more than two persons abreast which made it difficult to pass them.
Well organised - waited zero seconds for my bag at the end! Thanks to 'Rachael' from Macmillan and the Girls from Eims all of whom kept my pace up for a good stretch of the race. Looking forward to next time ?!?!?!?!?!?
My first marathon, and a fantastic one to start with.
Training was going really well until 7th March when I got a knee injury. Lots of physio and stretching and next to no running as didn't want to make the problem worse. My target altered from "under four hours" to "it would be nice if I could run it". It wasn't helped by twisting my ankle the day before. Realistically I expected to be walking after 40 minutes at best.
The knee problem hit at 35 mins but managed to run through it. Soles of feet became sore at 9-10 miles, some ankle soreness, recurring knee soreness, and by about 16 miles knees, hips and both feet were hurting at every step. I managed to hang in there with a lot of help from the crowd, and ran every step of the way.
The best bits were the Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge and The Embankment. The worst bit was the never ending Docklands ....
My key to success was the sign I saw on the way: "Pain is temporary but quitting is forever". That and grim determination. I hadn't had a proper run for six weeks, my shoes hadn't been worn in but I wasn't going to give up unless I was carried off by St John's Ambulance!
I’m really sore all over, but planning my next run already (not necessarily a marathon!)
|Pompey Jon, 4:51|
I ran with my brother, Mark, for the National Blind Children's Society and raised about £3,500. It was the first marathon for both of us.
From the beginning then. The forecast had said overcast and chance of rain, so it was a bit of a surprise when the curtains were drawn on the morning of the race and it was clear blue skies and sunshine. Fantastic for supporters, not so good for running (unless you're Paula Radcliffe and you start early and finish by 11....). As much breakfast as possible was eaten, despite nerves making the whole task quite difficult.
So off we set on the DLR from our hotel at Excel, towards Greenwich. Half an hour or so on a crammed train. Then a 20-minute walk to Greenwich Park where the start is, and an equally long wait at the toilets so Mark could shed a bit of pre-race weight. By the time we got to the start area the gun had already gone, so we hopped over the barriers and joined in the long queue to the start line. I'm sure some people would frown on that, but I don't think we gained any advantage from it! Fifteen minutes later we had crossed the start, and we were off! Five minutes after that I had taken my t-shirt off that was under my vest. It was going to be hot...
The race itself isn't entirely clear in my mind, but I remember some key points. The first of these were the first six miles, which were fantastic, the crowds were very noisy. That said, if I ever hear "show me the way to Amarillo" again I may well implode.
Mark and I had a game plan and it was all going well until the Cutty Sark, where the congestion of runners made it impossible to stick to any plan, so I told Mark to stop trying to make up time, to which he agreed and switched his GPS off so it wasn't a distraction. After that it was a case of settling in to the run, and taking on as much water as possible. It was really warming up by Tower Bridge, which was about half way, and after months of running in the cold and wet of Southsea seafront, it wasn't like anything I was used to and I was beginning to suffer a bit.
We made halfway in about 2:10, so that was okay for the 'roughly' 4:30 we were going for. Running over Tower Bridge and past the Tower of London, was awesome. The noise from the crowds was amazing. Surely there should be a better superlative to describe these experiences and emotions, but I can't think of one. Awesome is the best I think, although surreal comes close.
Our support crew of family and friends, wives and children, could write their own tale of trials around London yesterday, with three babies and millions of people to contend with, but at about 14 miles a cry of "HENDO!" went up, and there they all were jumping up and down and cheering us on. I took the opportunity to throw my t-shirt in their general direction as I'd been carrying it from the start, over the fast runners who were on their final few miles, running in the opposite direction. We were yet to do the Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf....
By mile 15 my legs were really heavy, and no amount of water, bananas, energy gels or jelly babies (provided by the heroes of the RW support team) were waking them up. I had felt much better than this in training, but it wasn't 18 degrees and blazing sun in February. Mark at this point was keeping me going psychologically, and was a real help, even though he wasn't exactly feeling no pain, but was coping with the heat better than I was! Our pace dropped right down, but now it was about survival, not time.
The Canary Wharf section was hard, but the crowds certainly helped, as did the sprinkler tents they set up that you could run through to cool you down. I did wonder at one point if we'd ever get off the Isle of Dogs, but we eventually did, so at mile 20 it was a simple case of running the last six miles home. Just a 10K Jon, just a 10K.....
Moral of the story - never use the word "just" in the context of the last six miles of a marathon.
These last steps really are a blur. I just remember pain, short steps that felt like I was going backwards, and looking at Mark and thinking how the blinking flip he was looking like he'd just started the race! The crowds down this last section again did their job, and the idea of writing "Hendo 1" and "Hendo 2" on our vests was paying off as people were shouting out our names. My legs were a mess so there was some walking to regain some strength and battle on, then run, cramp, walk, run, run, ouch, walk etc.
I think we ran the vast majority of those last six miles, but we certainly ran the last one, turning off Embankment into Parliament Square (where the crowds were, well, awesome) for the final push. In fact there were lots of people walking in mile 25, but in that last mile pretty much everyone found some strength from somewhere to run home, it really was incredible to see (and experience) what human spirit and determination can achieve, even if it does mean you get overtaken by a camel. I seem to recall seeing some friends of mine along that bit too. I'm sure I said hello...
As we rounded the bend by Buckingham Palace, I saw my daughter Daisy's Pooh Bear being waved in the air, and my wife Hannah jumping up and down cheering us both on, then the last few yards down the Mall, and over the finish line. Four hours, 51 minutes and 18 seconds after crossing the start line 26.2 miles earlier in Greenwich Park. What a day!
If I knew then what I knew now I would worry less in the first half about pace and time, and just sit back and enjoy it more. When you cross the line it doesn't matter how long it took you or how much pain you're in, the pain goes away, the time is forgotten, what you will always have is the medal, and the feeling of so many people willing you on to succeed, which is exactly what everyone who crossed that finishing line did.
|Crash Hamster, 4:55|
'There is just one thing that I know, I will beat the f***ing rhino'
It's amazing what pops into your head at mile 22 of a marathon, when you're tired and it hurts and your brain puts words to the rhythm of your feet. It had been a long and bumpy road to this point. The original plan had been for me to pace Mrs CH to a sub-4.30 so she could announce her retirement from marathon running, but four weeks of illness had long since scuppered that. On three 'long runs' of 18, 17 and 15 miles, we were now aiming at sub-5 and running all the way.
The weather was little short of perfect, the atmosphere was intense, the challenge was set. Our early pace was a little quick, but we were feeling good so we went with it. The inevitable slowing down happened after halfway, the roads narrowed and the side-stepping began in earnest. Knowing the RW supporters were at mile 17 pulled us through Docklands, while hugs and jelly babies spurred us on to mile 20 - where Mrs CH fell over...
She went down in a heap after treading on a discarded water bottle. By the time I had turned round and jogged back to her side, she had been helped to her feet by two other runners, who melted back into the throng. Heartfelt thanks, guys...
So to mile 22, mantra in my head, Mars Bar in my hand, dogging it out in the way that marathon runners do, on into The Mall, across the line hand in hand, 4.55.19 official.
And to Rhino Neil, thanks for the inspiration! That was some run in that suit on a hot day. You have my deepest respect, mate...
Had a great day running my first marathon at the Flora 2005 London Marathon. The best thing for me was the atmosphere that the spectators created, it really kept me going. The worst moment for me was stopping after crossing the finish line, everything seized up!
My biggest surprise was not hitting the wall, having been told by previous marathon runners to expect this at around 20 miles, one thing I would do differently would be to not wear my running bag with drinks and jelly babies in it as the drinks stations provided were plentiful and in the right places. And as for the sweets, my parents always told me never to accept sweets from strangers but this is almost impossible at the London marathon!
Once again, the support was fantastic !
Best bit: Seeing the Cheerers... they were great...
Worst bit: The pain in my foot at 19 miles...
Most memorable bit: A six-mile walk with lots of forumites coming up to encourage me thanks guys, you lot really are the greatest.
Learnt Lesson – Don’t run if you are ill!
This was my first marathon and having recently posted a 1:37 half marathon I was confident of a 3:45 finish. I’d put in four months of training, following a schedule with numerous runs on or around 20 mile mark.
But a nightmare scenario occurred when I came down with a temperature the day before the race. I was already in London for the weekend with my family, and so decided still to run despite the advice in all documentation not to compete. This was a big mistake.
Ran the first half in 1:55 and was still going strong at 30km but then started developing breathing problems and had to walk the last six miles in despair and agony before literally collapsing three steps past the finish line.
Still proud to have finished eventually although gutted to have put in all that training and not met potential.
Great atmosphere and support.
|Sweetest Thing, 4:58|
This was my first marathon and I loved it!.
My longest training run was a half-marathon (Hastings in March) so anything after 13 miles was going to be completely uncharted territory for me. My training had been hampered by demands of work and a grumbling foot problem.
I set off with three objectives: not to beat myself up about time, to adopt a run/walk strategy from the off and (most importantly) to enjoy the day. I arranged to meet up with Danni from the forum at the bandstand beforehand, but combination of trains and queuing for the loos meant we missed each other. I was really nervous waiting in pen 9 to set off and a big thanks to the fireman runner who gave me a hug and said not to be nervous and just to enjoy it. It really calmed me down.
First six miles was okay; I adopted a strategy of running to the mile marker and then walking a minute. At about mile three I heard shouts of “Sweetest Thing” and there were Danni and another. It was so good to see them, albeit briefly, as we had different running strategies. Greenwich seemed to go on for ever and I felt like we were never going to get out of the area!
Going round Cutty Sark was terrific, and I got a bit emotional because it’s such a landmark of the marathon. Running over Tower Bridge was just the best feeling and yes, I had another bit of a blub. Crowd support just as you approached the bridge was just fantastic.
Running towards Docklands and seeing all the fast runners going in the opposite direction I found a bit disheartening, thinking how much faster than me they were, but I put it out of mind (remember, I am not going to beat myself up about time) and just focussed on my run/walk and enjoying the atmosphere. I was looking out for my friend at mile 13 and suddenly heard someone yelling my name, so great to spot her. Then after that horrible underground roundabout at mile 15, I spotted my husband and children, which was a terrific boost for me, as I had been worried I wouldn’t see them.
They managed to pop up at four different points en route, which really helped me.
Miles 21 to 23 I found really, really hard. I didn’t hit the dreaded wall, but I ended up walking briskly for about half a mile between 21 and 22, because I was determined to run the last three miles and if I hadn’t had a slow down then, I was worried I would end up walking over the finish line, rather than running. Coming up onto the Embankment was just terrific and if it hadn’t been for the crowd support all the way along that part, I would have found the last few miles much tougher.
I couldn’t believe the shouts and clapping and music - just fantastic. I got to Birdcage Walk and there was a sign saying ‘800m to go’ and for some reason, I found myself thinking “I can’t do this. That’s too far." Luckily a marshal spotted the look of blind panic on my face and said: “You only have to go round two corners and you’re there”, which was just the perspective I needed.
When I saw the finish line, I managed to drag up a final burst of energy and kick off a bit to finish on a bit of a sprint. Blubbed as they took my chip off, blubbed as I got my medal (welling up now just writing this!) but felt so good that I had done my first marathon and finishing in under five hours was the icing on the cake.
I watch this every year on TV and hadn’t appreciated just what a terrific event it is. The support was absolutely unbelievable and really helped me along (and everyone else). All the sweets, orange segments, bits of banana, etc were really appreciated. Just coming out onto the Embankment and hearing people yelling out my name was absolutely fantastic. I would definitely do it again if I can get a place. It is really a whole load of ordinary people doing an extraordinary thing. But it did confirm that Lucozade sport is not the drink for me!
I have spent the time since finishing with a huge grin on my face and am flashing my medal at every opportunity. What a fantastic event! A big thank you to all the runners, supporters and organizers. Absolutely brilliant.
|G. Wickens, 4:49:50|
I'll be 50 this year and I wanted to do something that I'd never forget. My personal challenge was to finish, without walking. This I achieved, though my gait was more of a lurching limp for about the last three miles.
I was certain that I would only do this marathon once. The total experience was awesome and a great way to see bits of London from a different angle. I was not prepared for the incredible emotions that the day evoked, and the amazing, extraordinary crowds whose participation is truly wonderful over the entire 26.2 miles.
The sight of Big Ben at 2:30 p.m. from the Embankment, and the incredible cheering and shouting of the crowds really carried me to the finishing line. I felt quite spaced out and disorientated, not to mention the awful pain in both knees. However, my cousin's 11-year-old son, Kyle Fletcher of Australia, heard the words 'All Clear' after being diagnosed with a rare cancer called synovial sarcoma. His bravery and positive attitude was so humbling when I saw him last year, and this memory willed me to ignore my knees, and gave me a little of his determination.
My chosen charity was Cancer Research UK, as both my parents died of cancer, plus three grandparents, my mother-in-law and several fellow nursing colleagues.
Finally, my marathon tip for everyone! I recommend a loo stop at around 23 miles at the portables provided in the underpass near the Embankment because there were no queues!!!
|Beverly Tomkins, 4:57|
I had a fantastic time! The crowds were amazing! I am so pleased I swallowed my pride and adjusted my anticipated finish time instead of pulling out after pulling my IT band at Kingston on 20 March. I finished in 4:57 but felt like a winner when I crossed the finished line.
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