Saturday, May 4, 2019

More Than I Ever Imagined {London Marathon Race Recap}

As race mornings go I woke up relatively late, which isn't to say I was rested since I tossed and turned for most of the night. But once I was up I got dressed quickly and then Sanya (my twin sister) and I were out the door.

We walked to Westminster station and took the tube and then the train to Greenwich station...

Then we commenced the walk to the start....

Which was longer than I thought it would be...

And then a little longer than that...

By the time we got to the Red start zone I was already tired (but still smiling)...

San wished me luck and I headed into the start area, found a patch of grass that wasn't damp to sit on and tried to "rest" my legs while I watched the elites take off...

But while I was there it started to drizzle cold rain and I immediately regretted giving San my rain jacket to hold. Fortunately San called me before it got to be too miserable and said she would meet me back at the Red start if I wanted the jacket. She was a total life saver! So I headed back and we stayed there for a few minutes until my start zone opened up...

Then it was time to go...

Once back inside the Red start I lined up with my fellow runners and we walked a bit and stood around some more while waiting to make our way to the start line. A lot of people were running for different charities and many people were decked out in costumes... some of which were more interesting than others...

As we got closer to the start I found the 6 hour pacers...

And the other 6 hour runners and I discussed the plan for the race with the pacers while we waited to walk the final stretch to the start...

My plan was to stick with or stay ahead of the 6 hour pacing group. I had an interval strategy in mind but it was a bit different from what the pacers were doing. I figured I could adjust my strategy to fit theirs as long as it would get me across the finish line in under 6 hours.

About two miles into the race I realized I was wrong. The pacers were running a bit faster between the inclines so that they could walk up the inclines (yes there ARE hills in the London Marathon). Other walk breaks were thrown in as well but they were not (or at least they didn't seem to be) very structured, so it was throwing me off. I'm usually pretty steady with my pace/mile so I decided to abandon the "stick with the pacing group" idea and just try to stay ahead of them.

San and I planned to meet at the NSPCC cheer points along the course so the first time I saw her was around mile 6...

I was feeling pretty good at that point (still able to smile) so after a quick picture I headed off again. Meeting up at the NSPCC cheer points didn't work out exactly as planned so the next meet up was planned for mile 13 at Tower Bridge. As I approached the half marathon mark blisters were really starting to bother me and I felt like I was struggling a bit... not how you want to feel with another half marathon to go. But the crowd build up as I approached Tower Bridge was great...

I saw San as I approached the top of the bridge...

Stopped for more pictures...

And to spray Biofreeze on my knee...

Then I took a cereal bar from her and headed off again. I was in pain (the blisters mostly but my left knee was also mildly tight), and tired, and hungry, and had no idea how I was going to make through the second half of the course.

Most of the second half was a blur. I saw San again at around mile 19 but I was so close to tears that I didn't stop. San asked "what do you need?" and all I could think of was "I just need to finish".

If you've run a marathon before you know that it's more a mental game than anything else at this point. I had already seen the 6 hour pacer pass me, I had dropped my intervals to very short run:walk durations, and I was struggling not to cry. 

But then I saw some of the messages that my family and friends had been sending me. Those messages honestly gave me the extra push I needed... and then I caught up to the 6 hour pacer!

When the pacer saw me he said "I knew you could do it! Keep going and stay ahead of me!" so that's exactly what I did. 

The NSPCC charity I given me grandstand tickets for the finish line so Sanya was there waiting for me...

And I made it through the finish in my sub-6 hour goal time...

Despite the blisters and the mid-race periods of discouragement, London was a pretty amazing marathon experience (nothing has topped Chicago so far, but it's pretty hard to beat running in the city that I love the most).

I made it through the race without injuries (just a few blisters), I ran for a charity that I love, and I'm absolutely proud of my sub-6 hour finish!

San met me at the family meet up area and we slowly walked towards Westminster station and back to the flat where we were staying.

After a long shower and gingerly tending to my poor blistered feet, we went out for a celebration dinner at Dishoom Indian restaurant... the perfect cuisine to end an amazing day!

Overall my London Marathon experience was incredible, more than I ever imagined it would be. I would do this race again for sure. In fact, if I could, I would do the London Marathon every Spring and the Chicago Marathon every Fall! But until life can accommodate that it's time to plan for the rest of the year. Up next... the 2019 Marine Corps Marathon!

2 comments:

  1. Well done. This is a beautiful report of a fab run. Congratulations. How lovely you had Grandstand tickets for your sister as well. NPSCC did good too.

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    1. Thank you! It really turned out to be the perfect trip :)

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