Virgin London Marathon 2012-Completed!

Had you asked me when I signed up for my 1st marathon that I would complete 3 I would have laughed!  I have now completed my 3rd Marathon and I have learnt more about myself and marathons.

I finally got my ballot entry after several years applying.  I have run London twice before, once for my mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and once for my Dad who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.  In both cases my reaction to not being able to do something useful, was to raise some money instead so each time I ran with golden bond places.  This year was to be my marathon for me and my original aim was to train hard and really try and improve my time.  Then of course I sprained my ankle………..The last time I wrote on this blog I would have been happy to start!  But no, human nature/competitiveness intervened and as I managed to train I forgot about my injury, my training gap and started to imagine beating my Pb.

I love the London Marathon.  I love the atmosphere, the crowds, the fact that you can’t move for runners, the amazing volunteers.  It always makes the training worthwhile.  To be honest I’m not entirely sure I’d be able to do another marathon.

This year was no different.  The blue start is quieter than the red and less fancy dress costumes to look at but the buzz is still there, as of course are the queues for the toilets!  Planned to meet up with FortnightFlo but mobile phone problems meant it wasn’t to be, but I did meet up with some ladies from the Windmilers and we kept each other excited and company until separating into our pens.  I had been given pen 5 which I demoted myself down to 7 due to my break in my training and it only took 10 mins to cross the start.  The route is different from the blue but just before 3 miles we joined up with the red runners.  It was pretty clear and I was able to run freely but once we joined up with the red runners the familiar crowding happened.  As for my pace, I started at a steady 10.25 min/miles which I planned would bring me in at 4 hours 33.  Knocking nearly 30 mins off my pb of 4.59.10!

From my previous two marathons I knew the start needed to feel slow and easy and within a couple of miles although the pace wasn’t hard I kind of knew that I was going too fast.  Around 8 miles I started to slow and I was expecting to see my family at 9 miles so I was using that as a focus point.  Unfortunately 9 and 10 miles came and went and I didn’t see them.  That together with my acknowledgement that I wasn’t going to be able to maintain my planned pace made the next few miles very tough.  I knew this wasn’t right.  It shouldn’t be feeling tough at 10 miles.  I was getting emotional and seeing my family at 11 miles was both brilliant but also caused me to get more emotional.  Something needed to change, mentally it was going to be a tough long race if I didn’t get out of this place.  I started doing some walking breaks and thinking about everyone who had sponsored me and was tracking me, trying to get to a positive place.

Finally at about 17 miles, I saw a fellow Parkinson’s runner who had passed me earlier and patted me on the back with encouragement.  He was walking and didn’t good in a good way.  So I went to talk to him.  He had hit the wall and had decided to walk for a bit.  So I decided to join him.  During this time we chatted, another runner joined up and we all started to cheer up and joke about.  Suddenly I was remembering why I was doing this.  For me, because I enjoy it and to raise money.  I saw my family in Canary Wharf and that was a great boost and after that I decided that come 19 miles I would run the rest of the way.  So at 19 miles I left my new friends and started to run.  I focused on running and taking in everything around me.  The supporters, the volunteers, the bands, the landmarks.  I realised I had not noticed these things running the marathon before because I was either too focused or too tired.  The support from both the crowds and the volunteers was amazing especially as the sky began to darken and it started to rain.  I saw Westminster, Buckingham Palace and I ran the last 7 miles without stopping and without looking at my watch to check the pace.  It was fantastic!  I thoroughly enjoyed it!  Although the Teletubbies down the Mall may not have been my first choice of music but it was memorable!

Maybe I get too hung up on pace?  I think shazruns plan of running without her garmin is a good plan.  Maybe if I hadn’t have been so watch orientated and concentrated on how I felt?  Who knows?  But then I wouldn’t have learnt a little more about myself and the marathon and how it is such an unpredictable beast.  In a way you could have the best training in the world but if your body decides on the day that its not your day a marathon is too long to fight.  Maybe I’m being defeatist, or maybe I’m finally beginning to give the marathon the respect it deserves?