It was hot, it was tough and, boy, the London Marathon 2013 taught me a valuable lesson.
It’s not like I didn’t know what I was getting myself in for. I mean I have run eight marathons including London.
You could say that the London Marathon is why I am a little bit addicted to 26.2 miles. After all, it was my first – so spurred me on to try more – and it was also my weak spot. Back in 2011, I had to pull out during the race as I felt like I was going to keel over. This in turn gave me the push I needed to prove to myself that I could a) complete a marathon and b) get used to going the distance.
And it was with this complacency that I went into the London Marathon this year.
Did I train as hard as I had done before? To be honest, no. Partly because I was hesitant to really push myself as I did not want to aggravate my injury and partly because I went on holiday for two weeks in February and have been here, there and everywhere over the past few months.
Was I as fully prepared as I could have been? Probably not. I mean I knew what the drill was but I still hadn’t got my stuff together until the night before.
I think I was probably a little deluded – shall I call it a false sense of security? I believed that as I had done it before, I could do it again without putting in all the effort. I guess you could liken it to re-taking your driving test when you haven’t been in front of the wheel for three or so years. You’d be a little bit rusty, wouldn’t you?
And I wasn’t just rusty but full-on corroded. The first 10 or so miles were fine, I was feeling good, powerful, strong. My boyfriend had kissed me goodbye at the start, I was headed towards my folks, who were standing just over the other side of Tower Bridge and the crowd was on fire (London has the best support hands-down). But as the temperature increased and I felt a dull ache in my calves, I started to ask myself questions. Could I still run marathons? Maybe I should have trained a bit harder, taken it a bit more seriously. How can a man in a mankini run faster than me?
My legs became heavier, my stomach was turning somersaults and I was feeling the burn. The only thing that kept me going was a promise that I made to my long-suffering boyfriend, who incidentally rose from his slumber to see me off at the start-line. I told him that I would come back in one-piece; I was not going to have a repeat of last time. And once I got over the fact that I wasn’t going to do my PB or even close to it, I changed my tempo and tried to enjoy the atmosphere until the bitter end.
I’m not going to lie and say the London Marathon was the best thing ever – it wasn’t. In fact, in terms of marathons and races, it is way down there on the list. But I only have myself to blame. I now know that I have to train harder and smarter to smash my PB. And maybe, that is always what the London Marathon will be to me, the catalyst that reminds me to truly get my running act together so I can confidently race a marathon once again.
What was your experience of the London Marathon 2012?