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Lisa's post marathon blog!
Lisa's post marathon blog!Posted on: 22 May 2017 in
It has now been over two weeks since I completed the London Marathon, although it already feels as though it was a life time ago.
The day started with my usual race-day nerves, which prevented any food from settling and any conversation from happening with those around me prior to the start. I had been to the expo on the Wednesday after work to collect my number, GPS tag, and bag of goodies, and also treated myself to an anti-rub aid as I was getting some serious sores from my clothes. The whole journey was a trek, and I marveled at how many people were there, knowing it would be just a small fraction of the amount actually running. It was worth it however, as it meant that I was as prepared as possible prior to race day. I lay out all of my clothes and items the night before, with my number pinned onto my top, my tag tied onto my shoes, and my bag packed, to reduce the morning’s stress, which I was grateful for when I saw people rushing to do these things later.
Upon arriving at the train station, there were already other people there with their gear on, and it was clear that the majority of people at the busy station were heading in the same direction as us. We were therefore shocked to realise that there was only going to be 4 carriages on the arriving train! Great planning skills from the train company there; or maybe they hadn’t heard that a little race was taking place that day… As expected, we therefore had to cram onto the train and stand for the duration (because I wasn’t going to be on my feet enough already!). This, coupled with the heat of the carriage was too much for a girl stood behind me as she fainted; luckily she came around quickly and was not running that day! On the other hand, it was a good bonding experience, as the friendliness of the running community came out, and I managed my first proper conversation since waking up that morning!
The crowds only increased as we got closer to the starting point, with a fair hike to the red zone where some very unwelcome comments about how far people were having to walk began. I then had to say goodbye to my supporters as they went off to find the rest of my fan base, and I was left to enter the zone alone (or as alone as you can be surrounded by thousands of people).
My first stop was to find a toilet as recommended by others and my booklet due to the queues, even though I still had 45 minutes until kick-off. So began one of the most undignified moments of my life… female urinals. I joined the mile-long queue unsuspectingly, until a cardboard item was handed to me, only to find out that it was a she-wee. As I rounded the corner, I was met by a very unexpected scene; there were about 30 plastic urinals lined up, and a lot of confused and embarrassed women, most of whom with their backsides on show, having figured out the contraption. There were also a host of squatters along the fence who had decided that this was the easier option. Being the brave soul that I am, I figured that, if all these women didn’t care and could manage it, then I would give it a go, and so went one of the strangest moments of the day! I then laughed at all of the unexpected runners who were still queuing as I left the area as fast as possible!
After that exciting experience, it was time to head to my starting pen, at the back of all the other runners, and prepared myself to wait alone after giving up trying to find anyone I knew in the crowds. The crowd began to amass around me, all chatting excitedly, and I utilised the time to have an energy gel to make up for my lack of food that morning, and to check out all those around me. The ones getting the most attention were, of course, those in fancy dress; and there were hundreds of them! In my opinion, it was going to be hard enough to complete the race properly kitted out, let alone having things like ironing boards or tumble dryers (yes, a real, heavy, metal machine) strapped to my back. The other favourites in my area were the rhino’s, with full costumes on, various Scooby doo’s, and planes and cars made up of multiple people who, frankly, were just more annoying to try and get around!
As the time crept closer to 10 o’clock, the excitement built to a countdown and a loud cheer… only to be followed by a slow, start-stop, half an hour walk. That’s right, we didn’t even cross the start line until 10:35: a new record apparently! That’s what happens when you are at the back of a 40 thousand person crowd though I suppose.
Once we crossed the starting line, I will admit that the first two hours were a bit of a blur of thousands of people everywhere. It was easy to get distracted by the crowds and the other runners, and I found myself having to weave in and out of people despite not going that quickly. I was beginning to think that my supporters had given up on watching me and gone to the pub when they popped up at mile 9! It is an amazing moment when you realise that people are there just for you, and definitely makes a difference recognising some of the people in the crowds and seeing the pride and joy on their faces. Unfortunately, this only lasted as long as I could see them, and by mile 15, I began to hit a bit of a wall. My mind began telling me it was too hard; I still had hours left to go, and the hunger, pain, and negativity crept in (I bet you can spot which picture was taken at this time!). Despite this, I did manage to keep going, even if it was at a walk, and repeated my mum’s words over and over of ‘it doesn’t matter if you run, walk, or crawl across the line; you can do it’. My fan base popped up several more times as I plodded on, but it was more my own pride of not wanting to let them down and see me walking that kept me attempting to jog. I had seen others stopping along the way for toilet stops, drinks, and chats with their supporters, but had no idea how they did it, as if I had stopped, there was no way I would have started again!
By mile 18, my mind finally accepted that this was happening no matter what, and my mood began lifting again (yippee!), however, the pain ramped up too (booo!). From this point until the finish line, the game of ‘which pain is worse’ started: I would jog until my stomach cramped up with sharp pains, and then I would walk until my whole lower body began to cramp and shout with pain. Amazingly, despite this, I kept going in a relatively good mood, and those miles started creeping down. By this point, everyone around me looked to be in a similar amount of pain, but the crowds were ceaseless. I felt like a celebrity with my name being called out every few meters, and began to veer nearer to the crowds to they could see my name, and jog a little more as I noticed that those still running at this point were getting the most attention! So continued my last few miles all the way up to the impressive and long-awaited Westminster and the mall. Now, what I wasn’t prepared for, was how long the mall actually was! I had told myself I would run the last stretch, but after managing 200 yards, it began to seem never-ending! I therefore continued my walk-run routine until the last few hundred yards and, finally, I crossed the line! It took a while for me to be able to stop my forward momentum after forcing myself to continue for the 5 and a half hours that it took me to complete the race, so the poor lady had to aim and pretty much throw the medal over my head as I carried on! I was also handed a goodie bag for finishing, although after doing the marathon, this bag felt extremely heavy to me and the last thing I wanted was to carry it! I eventually managed to stop moving, and the enormity of everything I had done up until that point hit me: all of the endless hours of training, all of the training races before that, and finally making it to that finish line. Knowing, and accepting that it was all over was an emotional moment, and I still don’t believe that the enormity of what I have done has truly sunk in, but I managed to pick myself up and slowly head over to where my family friends were waiting with lots of hugs and pride. I am still so grateful for all of those around me for all of their support and encouragement, as I do not think I would have done it without them.
A few weeks on, and I feel fully recovered apart from some knee pain every now and then. I have also managed a small run since race day, which I did not think I would be able to do for a long time! I don’t plan on ever running a full marathon again as, frankly, the whole thing was quite traumatic for me! Plus I don’t think my knees would take it. I do plan to keep up my running though, and would be open to doing half marathons in the future, but I feel like I can happily tick off the London marathon from my bucket list and leave it there. I am mostly proud of the amount of money that we all managed to raise for the York road project, who have been very supportive and grateful the whole way ; It is a worthy cause and has made all of my efforts worth it. I am still looking for the right place to hang my medal, and I have heard that people are already selling their t-shirts and other gear, which seems crazy to me, but each to their own! I plan on treasuring my medal and my memories, and it has been, and will be, a great story to tell, so thank you all for reading and supporting me!