It wasn’t the fastest, by no means the easiest, and when I crossed the finish line my first text to my husband succinctly describes my last six or so miles of this notorious race.
After all, there’s nothing worse than disappointment in yourself (and my time was pretty OK 3:32). But rather than drowning in self-pity or berating the one race that always bites back, I want to share some moments I experienced which made it beautiful.
The camaraderie before the start
Otherwise known as the chat in the loo queue. If you are ever put in the green start, be prepared to wait for use of the facilities. With far too few loos in such a small space, you can spend up to half an hour waiting to spend a penny or do a number two. This gives you ample time to chat about everything and take your mind off the fact you seriously need to go. And people are kind. Offering you a black plastic sack because they can see you’re shivering or seeking out places they can sneak behind and discreetly go for a pee. It’s not and never will be glamorous but there’s a sense that you’re in it together and for the long run.
With over 40,000 people running London, it can be difficult to spot runners that you know, unless you decide to run together. By chance, I happened to bump into a woman I completed a Trailscape race with a few years back. She had just run across to say hello to some friends and it was great just being able to say ‘hi, how’s it going?’ to break the race up. That moment of friendly interaction is partly what London is about.
The people you know
I think this is maybe the fifth time I’ve run London. What I do remember specifically about the race two years ago was seeing people at specific places. People like the brilliant Josie, who always seems to stand around Tower Bridge and shout your name at the top of her voice. Then there’s Julie from Too Fat To Run who was there to support all those who have joined her in her campaign to get everyone moving. The Run Dem Crew was over in East London supporting their lot in spectacular fashion. Charlie from the LDN Brunch Club and Elle were also out in force while I struggled through those last tough miles. Their support can prove invaluable and they do a great job at representing the spirit of running communities in London.
This year’s London Marathon may not have gone to plan. And let’s face it, when does it ever go right? That #reasontorun was brought home to me when I passed the Prostate Cancer UK supporters for the first time. At the front of the crowds, I spotted my Mum and Dad on the other side of road which, I’m not too proud to say, brought a few tears to my eyes. The tremendous roar from the charity then spurred me on to keep going. All I wanted to do was give my dad a hug. I trundled on, and by the time I saw them the second time, I was running on empty. I stopped in my tracks, saw my mum and exclaimed: “Where’s Dad? Where’s Dad?” I couldn’t find him or see him (and my mum was video-ing me, like you do). The crowds then starting chanting my name so I set off again just wanting to finish so I could have that moment with my Dad.
The race finished and I deliberately told my husband and parents not to come to the finish. I made my way to The Hoxton Hotel to have a few photos taken of the ‘aftermath’. It was amazing how many people smiled, nodded or congratulated me as I made my way through Covent Garden, still covered in salt and sweat from the gruelling 26.2-mile race. And at that moment, I beamed in recognition of my achievement and felt beautiful.