Wow what an experience!
Sunday 24th April I became a Marathon Runner. After weeks of training and fundraising the day finally arrived and it was time to step on the start line of the best Marathon in the world.
The weekend started with a train journey down to London and I headed to the Expo. Number collected and the nerves were jangling. Back to hotel and into the pub and I was greeted with a curious look when I ordered a pint for the Mrs and a glass of iced water for me. Another pint of lager for Lorna and a pint of the strangest tasting orange and water made with fresh orange and enough was enough I needed a pint of Guinness just to settle the nerves. Okay two pints of Guinness, but it was a weekend break away and I wouldn’t be having a drink on the Saturday (or would I?).
Saturday was a whistle stop sightseeing store. Hydrating meant multiple stops to the loo whilst en route to Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Covent Garden and Harrods. Bit of travel advice, don’t attempt to tackle the staircase at Covent Garden tube station. 198 steps later we arrived at the top of the tube station. My thighs and calves were on fire. So much for taking it easy. A quick pint of Guinness (oops) and we where back at the hotel resting….for 20 mins, before heading off to PREZZO (thanks to Wendy for arranging) to meet a group of Red Rose Road Runners for tea, it was a great evening despite issues with glasses of water (I resolved this by having a glass of wine instead oops again)
A short journey from Waterloo to Greenwich and I followed the crowds to the Red start with Karl, Lynn and Tracy. No time to meet up for a Red Rose photo, as we queued for what seemed like hours for the loo’s. I headed to my start pen and anxiously waited for the start. Nervous chatter between fellow runners and the atmosphere was tense and you could smell the anxiety as we waited for Tim Peake to get us under way.
We were off, well actually we weren’t, as I was in pen 8, so it was a further 15 mins before I reached the start.
Miles 1-8 felt fantastic apart from an imaginary Achilles problem which I invented to make me doubt I would get to finish! That apart, I was happy with my pace and the time and the distance just whizzed by. I was chatting to fellow runners and was keeping pace just behind Jesus carrying his cross and running with barefeet.
Everything was going great, I passed a gigantic dinosaur and some red indians in a canoe before hitting my first mini wall. It was great to see Ray, Jake and Naomi around mile 6, so I looped back to say hello. The mini wall was the 6ft runner I nearly bumped into when looping back.
Miles 8-12 I was now looking forward to seeing the Red Rose supporters around mile 11 and I was running to the left-hand side of the course as I knew that’s where they would be stood. I thought I had missed them, but then at 11.5 mile I saw two beaming smiles as I approached Lorna and Ann. It was just the boost I needed, so I had a quick hug before getting going again.
Miles 12 – 20 With the boost from seeing Lorna and Ann, I headed towards Tower Bridge, grinning from ear to ear as I had got just the encouragement I needed. The run over Tower Bridge was amazing, the volume of the support was immense with shouts of Steeeeevooooo ringing in my ears. I hit the halfway point and pushed on
but now was the point I was beginning to struggle. I started to have a walk for a minute, but with the support of the crowd I was soon back running although my pace was slowing considerably. I was telling myself just to get to Mile 20. Then it happened, the man in the Gorilla suit (well more of a monkey onesie) passed me.
I had to keep going. Thankfully ‘monkey boy’ had to stop for a pee so I pushed on as hard as I could to put a gap in, so he couldn’t catch me again. Once again I saw Ray, Jake and Naomi around mile 14 shouting from somebodies balcony. It was great to see them as I wasn’t expecting to see anybody again until the later stages.
At some point between miles 12-20 we must have passed through little Jamaica as there was a distinct smell of the locals enjoying some recreational herbs whilst listening to some Reggae music. ‘Yeah man everything is going to be alright’ one of the locals shouted before leaning back on a fence to take a long drag on his funny looking cigarette. I also saw the funniest sight during these miles as a runner in an 8ft dinosaur costume was having a pee against a house. I am sure
this happened or maybe I inhaled to much of the herb whilst running through little Jamaica.
Mile 20-24 The last 10k was what I kept telling myself. My pace was slow and I was walking more than I would have liked, but in my eyes I was on the home straight. I kept at it with fellow runners offering support along the way and personal duels with the ‘man in the union jack top’ and ‘Doctor Mark’ continued for a few miles as we all swapped places several times over. Thankfully no sign of monkey boy!!! I stopped for a minute at some point to conduct the Orchestra, which were playing at the side of the road and also joined in with the crowd singing the Peter Kay version of ‘is this the way to amarillo’ which was fantastic.
Mile 24 – 26 I hoped I was going to see the Red Rose support crew again and I wasn’t to be disappointed. As I appeared from under a bridge I heard the chants of Steeeeevvvoooo from up in the sky. As I pirouetted looking upwards I couldn’t see them but could certainly hear them, as Lorna and Ann had got half the bridge shouting my name. Then finally as I heard the shout of ‘we are up here you ***’ and frantically shouting and waving I finally saw Lorna and Ann.
Two miles to go now. A few hundred metres later I saw another band of Red Rose support, this time it was Wendy, Clare, Jonathan, Angie, Julie and Tony shouting my name. Fantastic support and I knew I was getting close to the end. Less than a parkrun to go and I would be there.
365 yards to go – I forgot the aches and pains and pushed on and in my eyes I was sprinting. I could see the finish. I had done it. I had just completed my first marathon. The marshal placed the medal around my neck and I cried. I briefly turned around to watch a few others finish and there was no sign of ‘monkey boy’ but I did see ‘the man in the union jack top’ running in. Yes I had beaten him!!!
Reunited with fellow Red Rosers at the meeting point we swapped stories of our race before being joined by some of the Red Rose supporters who had covered miles whilst chasing around London supporting us all. Time for a few well deserved beers back in Waterloo, before heading back home. What an amazing experience.
I raised loads of money and one I would love to repeat, hopefully next year running with Mrs T.
Thanks again for all the amazing support from London and back home. I am keeping the medal to myself, but you all played your part in me being able to achieve it.
Right its time to get back to business starting next week with the Yarrow Park 10k.