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My first marathon was a fantastic experience, surrounded by thousands of other like-minded runners after months of training alone on the streets.
I loved the virtually uninterrupted applause around the course and the generosity of the general public. I was humbled by seeing collapsed runners being attended to by the St John Ambulance teams, runners of all ages and abilities, and of course the stories just emerging of those who took 19 hours+ to complete the course on prosthetic limbs.
To be in a race surrounded by these people as well as world champions and record holders is quite awe inspiring.
|Jackie Bowles, 4:12|
Like many people, I'd talked about doing the London Marathon for years. I'd spectated, being inspired by all of the runners for having the strength, discipline and motivation to take on this goal. And at last I was really doing it - I was one of them!
Best and most memorable moments:
What I would do differently:
The keys to my success:
Something I wish I knew beforehand:
My three goals were to achieve 3:50, finish strongly and to run the whole thing without hitting the wall. Two out of three ain't bad. New York, anyone?
|Ian Bailey, 4:43|
The day arrived, and what a brilliant morning! There was bright, spring sunshine bursting through the windows at 6am when the alarms went off.
My training hadn't been textbook, despite having all the books and magazines and emails from Runner's World. I had put a good chunk of mileage in, mostly by running the 7.5 miles from work to home two or three times a week, but I hadn't gone 'long' as recommended, and some of the races I'd planned along the way had been scuppered by bad weather.
On the day, the walk up from the station to the common was inspiring. There were lots of people making their way calmly to the start. Coffee shops were offering breakfasts and the day was warming up. There was a carnival atmosphere, with hot air balloons and a PA system playing music and chat. I decided I ought to queue up for a toilet, which took up 45 of my 60 minutes, but was well worth it.
If you haven't run in a mass-participation event before it's hard to describe what it feels like. The pace is slow to start, but that's not a bad thing with 26.2 miles to go. There wasn't much overtaking, everyone seemed to just go with the flow at about 11 minutes per mile, and the weather and the spectacle was amazing. It would have been hard to carry, but I regret not taking a small camera with me.
Slowly, the field started to spread out and the pace crept up to between nine and 10-minute mile pace. It was hot and sunny, but with no drinks station until mile three I was glad of my bladder-pack. The crowds were small and spread out to start with, but began to fill out as we neared Woolwich.
I made good progress and soon was approaching the halfway stage. Someone phoned and informed us that Paula Radcliffe had just finished in 2:17 (she did set off earlier than us, but not that much earlier!)
Around Surrey Quays I saw a woman in tears being helped by a St John's Ambulance volunteer. It reminded me that despite the party atmosphere we were in the middle of an endurance event and finishing was not a given. I ripped off one of the energy gels I had strapped to my backpack and decided to have one every hour, whether I wanted it or not.
Just before the bridge I called Al to let her know I would be there in about 10 minutes, but there was no answer. The approach to Tower Bridge was awesome. I spent most of it looking for familiar faces in the crowd, but with no luck. I was a bit deflated, but also relieved I was near the halfway point in a reasonable time, around the two hour mark.
The right turn towards the Isle of Dogs brought a mixture of emotions. The course doubles back on itself here and we saw sub-three runners coming the other way with only six miles to go, which was a bit depressing. In about another hour and half I would be there, watching some of the fun runners in the same place dodging the clean-up crews and road sweepers.
Time started to go more slowly from here, but I made it through to mile 18 before taking a stop - my furthest run ever.
It wasn't just me. Lots of people were walking now, but being passed by so many was a bit galling. And the more stops I had, the more difficult it was to start running again. My jokes about running like Private Godfrey in Dad's Army were coming true. Although the last few miles seemed to be taking for ever and I really had to grit my teeth, the Tower, Embankment and finally Big Ben slowly came into view.
My legs were just not responding at all, but I decided I was going to run the last mile whatever, and I stumbled into a run, which I managed to keep up until the finish. That last half-mile into the Mall seemed to go on forever, but I finished in a reasonable 4:43.
I'm not sure how I felt at that precise moment. I was very pleased to have finished, although a bit disappointed by the time. All I wanted to do now was meet up with Al. I called her as I was having my timing chip removed, picked up my goodie bag and kit bag and tried to fight my way through the crowds at the end of the Mall to Admiralty Arch. We finally met up, took some more photos, and then set off for Charing Cross and a train home.
It looks like I will have raised something like £700 towards a new wheelchair for Addie, my friend's child, which is great news. I am dead chuffed to have done my first marathon, but I think I could do it a bit faster with proper training, so this will not be the one and only one I do. The Kent Coastal Marathon is taking place in Margate on the 4th September. I booked a place on Tuesday. Bring it on.
Best moment of the race was being able to stop off at my house at mile 14 to say hi to my folks and use their toilet facilities (well we can't all do a Paula!), experiencing the luxury of running water and loo roll again without the queues.
I beat my time of last year by half an hour - and behind only 25,300 other runners, which isn't bad as I suffered a fractured spine 10 months ago and had titanium rods put in my back... which gives rise to the best surprise of all: no blisters, no aches, no pains and I was cycling to work the next day in time for an 8.30am start. The only thing is, that means I should have run much, much faster......
Thanks to everyone who supported me and the other 35,000 runners. But a special thank you should go to the orthopaedic team at the Royal London for all their fantastic work, without whom I wouldn't be walking again, let alone running marathons.
.... Still running at 18 miles and on target to beat a 'Good for Age' time
.... Realising at 24 miles that a 'Good for Age' time is slipping away and running through treacle.
It was my ninth London Marathon and only one minute outside my PB.
Receiving the weekly RW Training Plan by email really helped me focus on what I should be doing that week. I did miss one long run so that is perhaps where my lost time went.
|Jane Adlum, 4:28|
I had a really great day - last year was such a slog due to injury that I just set out to enjoy this year's race - and enjoy it I did! Singing, clapping and cheering for at least 20 of the miles and finishing with a smile on my face. I finished in 4:28, just inside my target time, and was thrilled to bits.
So many high points in the whole day - my sister sending me a text in the evening that said, "What have you done today to make me feel proud?" (I filled up with tears)... the old guy I met in the last mile who told me to keep smiling so I'd look good for the finish... my husband telling how well I'd done.
No real low points apart from seeing those at the roadside obviously suffering from heat, cramps and general exhaustion.
A super high point has been my sister and husband agreeing to work together towards the 2006 race. I'll sit it out next year and spectate!
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