Five years ago I watched parts of the London marathon on TV. Feeling it had been a while since my last challenge I thought I'd enter the ballot, without success. I continued running and completed a few 10km races but running quickly fell away as a hobby.
Fast forward to October 2011, in my fifth year of entering the ballot I've got a place for 2012. I'm really out of practice when it comes to running, so time to get moving! [Since had to defer to 2013, see below]
There are plenty of people out there who will tell you I'm not a very fit/lean guy. This is going to be a serious challenge for me and I'll need all the support I can get!
Get out there and run! Sounds obvious but when the wind is blowing, it's dark and wet, the last thing any sane person wants to do is go for a run. I have to do it though, I'm committed to this as much as I can be.
Like all plans, they are adaptable and react to changes. Well with various injuries both new and old ones getting irritated over the last couple of months (right knee is a new one, plantar faciitis in left foot - old injury, left hip - old injury) I've ended up missing a number of weeks of training.
Rather than risk not completing the big run in April I've decided, reluctantly, to defer my place until 2013. Which means so long as I don't relax the training too much I can build up my distances again, more slowly this time, and even set myself a target time rather than just completing.
In the mean time, I'll try and do some organised "races" (I won't be racing anyone!) to keep me focussed on running - of course all this depends on sorting out these blasted injuries >:(
The first half was good, 13 miles done in 2:10. At that point I was feeling pretty pleased with myself. It was too good to last!
The knees mostly held out, which was a worry. Had some significant pain which stopped me for a couple of minutes in left knee somewhere in the Docklands, but that eased off and didn't come back. The Ibuprofen helped I guess!
I also lost at least 10 minutes queuing for the toilets half way round and my legs had started to seize up in the wait so getting going again was hard. I was helped by a marshal who, on seeing me walking back to the route from toilet and the name on my shirt, shouted at me "Come on Ben, we're waiting for you!", which was nice. In the last 6 miles I ended up adopting a run/walk strategy for the last few miles. My legs just wouldn't function at the pace I wanted them to!
I managed a steady (aka slow) 4:53. Under 5 hours though which I am pleased about, I would have been disappointed had I gone over 5 hours. That helped spur me on towards the end, knowing I was getting close to 5 hours.
I ran for two charities, WWF and Oxfam. One of the benefits of having a ballot place is that I could choose a charity(ies) that I wanted to support, rather than letting the securing of a place be the reason for choosing a charity.
All totalled up, I raised around £1100.
The crowd along the route was amazing, cheering people on all the way round. By name where runners had their name printed on their shirt.
People say the crowd will get you through the last mile or two of the London Marathon and I didn't really understand/believe what they meant. Now I do, they simply won't let you stop. Cheering and shouting encouragement all the time. I suspect some would actually walk with you and physically support you if needed!
Everytime I slowed to walk towards the end people would be shouting my name (printed on shirt) to try and get me moving again. One group stood particularly, a couple of women who just kept shouting and shouting, when I finally broke into a jog there was a big cheer from them.
London Marathon - would you do it again?
I've been asked that question a lot since finishing. Even though it hurt I think the atmosphere and crowds make all the training, pain and suffering worthwhile.
Would I run the London Marathon again? Probably, given the chance.
It's not easy to get a place, it took 5 years to get my marathon place for 2013. I have entered the ballot again, so while I only have something like a 1 in 8 chance of getting a place I'm quietly hoping.... I think I'm hoping I get a place rather than hoping I don't!