My Virgin Money London Marathon Experience
Today we have a guest blog from Fiona Wright at Run Mummy Run, a wonderful network for mothers who love to run. Run Mummy Run is a place to find friendships and enjoy all the good that running brings. Find the site right here.
Colour. Noise. My stomach is in knots. I’ve made my way into my starting pen in Greenwich Park with thousands of other runners packed tightly in around me. Despite the close proximity of my fellow runners I am reluctant to shed my old hoodie and let the cold morning air onto my skin. The excitement is palpable. I can hear my own heart beat as we begin to shuffle forwards. This is it. I’m running the London Marathon!
After an early night and good night’s sleep at the Holiday Inn Regent’s Park. I ate a good breakfast and packed my bag. As I’d laid my kit out the previous evening, my morning was eerily straight forward. I hopped on my transfer bus and made my way to the start ready to meet up with some running friends, and members of the Run Mummy Run community. Chatting to all of these lovely runners all in the same boat calmed my nerves a bit and raised my spirits.
While in the queue for the toilet I tried to focus my mind and put some of my mindset tips into practice. I thought about my reasons for running, repeated my motivational mantra to myself and again visualised myself having a strong and positive race.
The first few miles were over in a flash. I started a little too quickly, swept along in the excitement and the crowd. I focussed on bringing my pace back down to what I’d trained for, reminding myself there was no point going too fast and then hitting the wall later on. Running around the Cutty Sark was amazing. The crowd was massive and the noise unbelievable. I love ticking off the landmarks as I go.
Mile Nine was where I first spotted my husband. A quick hug and a chat and I was off again. Huge waves and shouts from my running club too really raised my spirits. I’m so glad I had my name on my vest. It makes such a difference when someone shouts your name. Mile 19 was a highlight. The lovely Run Mummy Run ladies organise a cheer squad every year and I felt like a celebrity with all the hugs and cheers I received. They even made my eyes leak a bit!
I was determined to have a strong final 10km but it was tough. The weather was warmer than I anticipated and it had left me feeling drained. It took everything I had to dig deep, stay strong mentally and trust my training to get me through those final miles. It’s well accepted that those final miles after 20 are some of the toughest. I made it through and even managed a sprint finish with my arms aloft and a huge grin. After all the months of training I’d finally done it. I’d run the London marathon.
A Spectators View:
My husband is also a runner but he prefers shorter, faster distances such as 10k and half marathon. He often comes to support me at my long races. This is his view of the day…
“Don’t worry about getting up in the morning as I’m away so early” she said. “I won’t wake you”. Sharing a room with Fiona when she’s preparing for a marathon sounds like it’s being invaded by a herd of angry elephants. Flash, the main light was on. Rustle, she rummaged through carrier bags for “essential” items for her kit bag. Seriously is she really going to bother wiping her face with babywipes at the finish?
Once she had finally gone I had a good breakfast, checked out and met up with a friend who had come to support too. We headed for the tube to make our way to Canada Water near mile 9. The tube was packed. We were like sardines rammed into a tiny tin can hurtling under the streets of London, yet the atmosphere was electric. All of the supporters happily chatting about where they were going to spectate and look out for their loved ones.
Once in place we watched the sea of runners. There are so many it is almost impossible to focus on them. I almost fell sea sick. We could see how much runners were lifted when we shouted the name on their vest. I’d managed to get a text through to Fiona explaining where we were and which side of the road to look for us. She and her friend looked strong as we saw them come around the corner. Seeing their faces light up and their arm raised in the air when they spotted us is one of my favourite memories of the day. Never underestimate how much seeing friends and family can give a runner the boost they need. I gave Fi and huge hug and checked if she needed anything and then they were off again.
It pays to plan your viewing spots in advance. The crowds everywhere were immense and the tubes were rammed all day. We managed to catch a ferry across the Thames and squeezed ourselves into the crowds lining the Embankment. The crowds here were loud and really willing the ailing runners along their final miles. We managed to see the girls again and we could tell they were flagging. We gave them a shout and they smiled and waved. They didn’t stop this time. I think they worried if they stopped they wouldn’t get started again. We watched them shuffle off into the distance and in that moment I realised I am so proud of my wife. Despite my moaning about being abandoned for all of the long training runs I am now struck by her determination and tenacity. She is an amazing London marathoner.
PS – She never did use those babywipes!