London Marathon 2018
Hello, first and foremost, welcome to my running blog. A unique and original idea that definitely does not exist by anyone else already, strap yourself, its going to be a teacup ride.
I woke up on Sunday 22nd April at 06:08, I had 6hrs 57mins of sleep, my body temperature was 36.2C. I’m not sure if this is the level of detail that I’m going to keep up, I’m new to this blogging so I'm still testing them waters out so bear with me. I looked out the window to be greeted by 3ft of snow, today was going to be super interesting. I put my 15 layers and...sorry...the temperature is going to be TWENTY WHAT? Jeez, ok, good job I did all my long runs in the freezing cold, exemplary preparation.
It was a beautiful morning, pretty imperfect weather conditions for a marathon, bloody hot and very sunny, but what can you do? Thankfully the robots driving the DLR had decided not to strike so getting to the start line was a breeze.
There’s an amazing feeling when you disembark the DLR at Greenwich on marathon morning. You can feel the excitement in the air, I love the sense of occasion, everyone is in the same boat, nearly everyones in high sprits although you can see the fear scrawled across the faces of some of the runners, you all move as one big mass of people towards the start lines.
I rocked up to the red start area feeling like i'd had a bowl of butterflies for breakfast. Dropped off my bags and headed to the loo. Pro loo tip for you all here - don't go for the ones near the baggage area, they're the first ones you see so the first one everyone heads to, I walked past loads of people queuing there and found ones a little further on with no queue at all. Perfect.
The start pens began to fill up, with everyone seeking that last bit of shelter from the sun under the trees. I met up with my fore-namesake Matt Bodkin (Go check his blog after you've completed mine, he’s a running machine!) and we waited with baited breath for the lady who appears on all the money to give us the go ahead to start on our epic 26.2 mile journey.
I like to think running a marathon is like being on a rollercoaster, there’s a whole load of build up, you reach the start line then it’s pure misery for 26.2 miles. You finish dehydrated, shorter in stature and your body flipping hates you, actually scrap that, running a marathon is nothing like a rollercoaster, if it was, health and safety would have shut that theme park long time ago.
As we got underway, it was apparent that this was going to be known as the sweatiest London Marathon in the history of London Marathons. By about mile one I was perspiring like it was going out of fashion. The first few miles passed without real incident, which is always welcomed, I found a steady pace and just stuck in there. Matt headed off into the distance whilst I embraced the sites and sounds of Woolwich. Cutty Sark comes up around the 6-7 mile mark. This year I found that a real happy place to be, back in Feb it had been the finish to The Big Half in which I'd ran the best half i'd run in recent years, so those memories spurred me on. At Mile 9 the partner & family were waiting to see me, I threw my hands in the air like I did not give a damn and they did it back, what a moment!
I hadn't had the best build up to this marathon, I’d got a mild bout of plantar fasciitis on my 18 mile long training run and it just hadn't cleared as quickly as I'd liked so I finished my training one long run short and didn’t run for 3 weeks prior to the marathon. I set myself the goal of getting to 18 miles and told myself I'd have little break. At around mile 10 I'd realised I had completely forgotten my fuelling plan. I was going to have rehydration salts and a gel at the hour mark to kick me off. I'd brought some SOS rehydration sachets to mix on course. So I grabbed some water at the next station and tried to mix my drink, another pro-tip for you all...dont bother. Firstly I tore the sachet, then it solidified as I attempted to pour it in, so I decided the best way to overcome this was to mix it in my mouth, what a blast that was! Just before Mile 13 you reach the Tower Bridge, last year I found it a little lack-luster, I had hyped it so much in my head that I found it disappointing in reality, this year, however, was something quite special. I'm not sure if it was the cool breeze off the thames or the sheer volume of noise coming from the crowd but I started to well up like a proud family member at a wedding. I won’t forget that feeling in a hurry. Next stop on this brief tour of London was Canary Wharf, the worst place to be in the marathon in my opinion! You've got your back to the finish and the crowds are slightly thinner in places. My legs were starting to get heavy at this point, but I knew if I reached that mile 18 I could have a little walk. As I hit that 18th mile marker I felt like i'd crossed the finish line, I'd made it, anything from now on was a nice little bonus.
Every single mile now was a struggle, I promised myself, just one more mile and you can have a break, and then i’d sneakily change my mind and convince me to run just one more. I managed to keep a decent pace, and I knew there were a few familiar faces out in the crowds down here which made me determined to go on. I saw Rich (of RichWillRun instagram fame) at mile 21 and leaped in for a high five, turns out, my legs absolutely hate leaping for high-fives after running 21 miles, I could feel the cramp building now. I hit mile 22 and instantly stopped running, the walking side of my brain had won the battle, wasn't going to win the war though. I gave myself a randomly picked 3.5 minutes to walk then I got on my way.
There is nothing of interesting in these miles, they consisted of getting my head down, getting it done, the same convincing myself each mile I could stop. The crowds here are bonkers, and I bloody loved it.
Mile 24 - THE BLOODY FINISH YESSS
As I ran up the stupid slope from Blackfriars at mile 24 the legs went "no thanks Matt, we've had enough of this charade, no more running for you today" and I guess they were right, I'd got more out of them than I had expected, It'd be rude to make them continue. That was until I happened across a myriad of Instagram runners who were all out cheering, who's insane support got the legs going again, I’m eternally grateful for that support. From here on it was a slow slog to the finish line. Coming up the Mall is such a crazy feeling. For anyone who has grown up watching the marathon you know what an iconic finish it is. As you turn in front of the overlords house you see it in all its glory, like the pearly gates of heaven, (if heaven was sponsored by Virgin Money). I could see the clock, 3:49 it was showing, I new I had made a sub 4 hour time and I was elated. I picked up my pace, the land of permanent stopping was on the horizon. Meters away from the finish, I threw my arms out like I was an airbus A380 and I was done. I had finished. Stand down legs, you're not required any longer. Got my medal, and I found a nice little spot to have a quiet moment to myself to try and process what the hell had just happened, I'd run a 03:45 marathon, knocking 55 minutes of last years attempt.
And just like that, its all over for another year, finishing is such a strange feeling. This race had occupied nearly all of my waking thoughts and conversations since Christmas and it was gone, over in under four hours. It does mean I can now eat all of my easter eggs and, after 113 days, I can now have an alcoholic drink!
From the bottom of my heart I would like to thank every single person that enabled me to run this race, I couldn't have done it without the donations you all made to Macmillan Cancer Support. To everyone person that lined the course who shouted my name, handed out high-fives, thank you! To every runner who gave me words of encouragement mid-race your support was truly incredible and made my quiet Sunday so very very special.