fairweatherrunner

running blog

London Marathon

18 Comments

It was a once in a life time experience which I’m glad I’ve done. Some parts, like running over Tower Bridge were amazing, but I hated much of it.  Never again, although I do now have unfinished business over 26.2 miles.

I have to admit it’s taken me more than a few days to write this blog post.   I’ve been putting it off. I’ve been a bit down in the dumps and disappointed in myself. It didn’t go as I wished, I didn’t enjoy it.

As time goes on I am getting things into perspective. I had a bad day, a bad race. It was probably a combination of any of a number of things. Mistakes in fuelling and hydration, a too sharp taper with a bruised rib, under training, not taking account of the warm weather…. Whatever it was or wasn’t, bad races happen. Normally I shrug and get on with the next one a little wiser and tougher. But it’s harder to swallow when you’ve built up for a big race where the training has taken over for the previous 4 months.

I always said (before my first marathon) I wouldn’t run one until I was very very old because it’s such a long way and old age would give me a valid excuse to stop for a cup of tea (or two, or stronger) along the way. I think I must have meant this one and I should have stuck to my guns because London is probably the right one for tea (beer) stops. Not that I’m criticising it. I found The London Marathon an amazing somewhat overwhelming experience. But not a comfortable run.

It was impeccably organised, I was marshalled onto the right train at Charing Cross, got to the blue start where the loo queue was manageable and I dropped my bag in the right lorry, where they checked I had my timing chip and everything I needed, and walked to the start pen. It was busy but calm and civilised

I lined up with confidence. After my 20 milers I just had to do the same and then hang on and try not to slow too much over the last 6 miles. As long as I kept running then I’d hopefully be ok for about a 4.30 ish finish.

It took me a while to settle and hold a steady pace, not being pulled along with the pack at too fast a pace. At 5K I felt the buzz from feeling that I was part of something really amazing. I enjoyed the atmosphere of running around the Cutty Sark but had my first taste of the effort and concentration needed to hold pace as it became crowded. The support from spectators was amazing but at points they were spilling out onto the route pinching the flow of runners, even obscuring the blue racing line.

My problems started when I felt I needed to stop for a wee. I was reluctant because the queues looked like I could say goodbye to at least 10 minutes race time. I carried on, envious of the men at every opportunity in a line against the wall having a pee. At 10 miles I knew I wasn’t feeling the love, I was not ‘in the zone’, lost in my run and my thoughts. I was having to concentrate way too much on my surroundings and to hold pace with stop-starting in front of me, many distractions from sights, sounds and smells all around and empty water bottles to watch for on the road.

The turn towards Tower Bridge came suddenly and was one of the highlights as we ran up to and over the bridge. The crowds either side of the road were huge and the roar of cheers amazing which literally took my breath away. I’m not usually breathless at that pace, it’s the legs that go first, but the noise, crowds and the heat was quite claustrophobic.

At halfway I began to realise I was in trouble. I’d run a good steady half in 2.11,  well within my usual comfort zone, but had worked harder than I realised to do it. I had sipped water but knew I’d not drunk enough for the heat, holding back because I didn’t want to stop, and although I’d taken gels my legs were tiring and feeling wobbly. I pushed on keeping an eye on loo queues.

At about 15 miles I got a wonderful boost from seeing my brother and getting a big hug from my sister in law. It’s amazing how much pace and mileage you can get from a hug!  I was aware of roughly where friends were going to be on the course but there were so many people. Unless supporters had a banner people were impossible to spot. It was disorientating trying to look up and down both sides of the road for a familiar face and disheartening when I got well past the area they might be. How I managed to see the people who did spot me is a miracle. I was sorry to miss others, a couple of BMF buddies in particular because I was so looking forward to using one significant word to describe how I was finding it. (F***ing hot, F***ing horrible!)

After Westferry I was beginning get stomach cramps so my stop for the loo became necessary. Fortunately  I didn’t have to plod on too long before I found a portaloo with no one waiting. Then I was able to get some water and a gel down and went on to have a good patch between 16 and 18 miles and began to think I could pull things together. It was then I turned my ankle on a water bottle, nothing too bad that a hop and a stamp couldn’t cure but enough to weaken my resolve to keep running and start my first walk break.

It was great to see Alma and Louise around that point. I was so happy to see a friendly face and more than tempted to stop and chat far longer.  Carrying on I was less aware of my surroundings or the sights of London, just pleased that the course had turned and I was heading in the right direction to the finish. I was beginning to feel nauseous and settled into a pattern of taking walk breaks for a couple of minutes each mile.

Around 20 miles. I was overtaken by the 4.30 pace maker. I tucked in behind and tried to stay with them but the nausea and stomach ache returned and forced me to walk and I settled into my long run-walk to the finish. I was raising money for a good cause and I had to get my medal so I stopped feeling sorry for myself, put a grin on my face and turned to plan d. Finish.

Which I did after 4 hours 51 mins.

I was probably both an idiot and a wimp on the day. Now I must stop being cross with myself because I was slower than last time and remember I ran a marathon and in not too bad a time. I will run another marathon, but after I’ve forgotten about the training for this one. Next time if I want to get so competitive with myself I might seek some advice for training, fuelling and hydration and find a slightly less busy one with the odd quiet stretch to allow for a bit of head space.

In the meantime you’ll find me out getting therapy on my bike and at BMF.

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Author: fairweatherrunner

West London fair weather runner, British Military Fitness fan, mother of teenage sons and drinker of wine. Sometimes found on the Isle of Wight.

18 thoughts on “London Marathon

  1. You totally have our respect for what you did. Tempted to think you are being very hard on yourself. Thank you for writing up your experience though as it helps us understand what it was like. Hoping time and perspective gives you insight into how strong you have been- and a fine example to friends and readers alike.

  2. I’m sorry to hear that you had a tough time at London; you did it though and for that you should feel very proud of yourself.

  3. I am sorry to hear you so disappointed. I think that running one marathon puts more pressure on you than you realise. It was also really hot and I wasn’t in London where it tends to feel hotter. I have been reading all sorts of books to try and get on top of the fuel issues. I am sure you will come back stronger than ever. The bottom line is you did it and are now part of a very elite group. Stop being so hard on yourself.x

  4. I am so sorry that you didn’t enjoy your race. You wouldn’t mind having a bad run if you hadn’t put 4 months of your life into it, but you can’t plan for these things and you did a fantastic job. You are being too hard on yourself, I would say. Get your therapy from BMF and you lovely bike and next time it WILL be your day. Let’s be honest, still a good time, well done.

  5. I take it I can’t tempt you to join Giselle and me at Paris* next year 😉

    *or Rome, or Seville, or….

  6. Well done. I have forwarded your post to my daughter who ran her first marathon on the same week end. ( Canberra marathon). She ran pretty much the same as you…but without the crowds. Great effort on your part. What next ?

  7. Glad you have come to terms with a bad day, when all is said and done you’ve done what 99% of the population will never do, good on yer! 🙂 Oh and I’d kill for a 4.51 in Limerick next week! 🙂

  8. It’s difficult to train for every challenge you might expect in your first marathon. You did an amazing job and even if it did feel like your running mojo had deserted you after tower bridge (it probably went sight seeing) your write up is still an inspiration to how determination and effort can keep you moving forward. I did the London Marathon this year as well – it’s not one I’d like to repeat as the claustrophobic feeling of the day was more exhausting than the distance itself. I’m thankful I ran with friends who made it fun for me. Book another one….. go on, go on, go on…..
    And well done, amazing effort 😉

  9. It is big build up to London, especially being thr first, does increase expectations. I got carried along too a few times with the initial surge. Well done for carrying on when many would give up, that’s true grit. After a disappointing London in 2012 I did Abingdon which was relaxed and friendly and posted a better time as a result. Well done, you overcame the difficult;ties and got there!

  10. Autumn 2015 we both have ‘unfinished business’ xx

  11. I read your blog after googling ‘didn’t enjoy London Marathon 2014’ – thinking there must be someone else but me who didn’t!! Feel a little better now – well done though for finishing. I’m wrestling with having another go at London next year, see if I can get from it what everyone else does (or says they do) – I didn’t even enjoy Tower Bridge!! Like your blog though – I live on the IOW by the way!!!

  12. Well done for having the strength to finish. I’ve only done one marathon and whilst I loved the crowds at York, the quiet stretches where I could think and be alone were important to me. I’ve always wanted to do London but I think when I do it’s going to be to go steady and enjoy the experience!

  13. You’re not an idiot or a wimp – you’re hardcore – well done!

  14. Amazing achievement, I bet half of us wold simply give up – but you went on regardless. Good mental job!

  15. I always get too nervous on race day to eat properly and get too distracted by sights and sounds which I feel through me off my game. Don’t beat yourself up about it though, it is still an amazing achievement! There are always other races, and you’ll learn something from each one.

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