I ran the London marathon…

Yesterday I ran the London marathon.

Despite the fact the medal is laying less than a metre from me, when I look at that sentence it still doesn’t seem real.

Yesterday was an absolute slog and an absolute blur at the same time. I ran for 5 hours and 17 minutes – that is a bloody long time, but there are big stretches of the race I already don’t remember.

To say that I enjoyed running the London marathon would be lying. And I hate that that’s the case. I’m sorry to anyone who would’ve run it and loved every step. I hated every minute of training for this race – once I got injured and I couldn’t do many of my long runs, the whole thing just made me really stressed out.

Yesterday was hard. I had been having stomach ‘issues’ in the few days leading up to the race and on the day itself they didn’t go away. I ran from 8 mile onwards with my stomach constantly cramping. From half way I had to adopt a walk/run strategy as it was so uncomfortable. Stress does funny things to your body.

I wouldn’t have got through the race without two people – Stephanie and Michelle. Steph was with me at my house before the race, made my breakfast, taped up my knees and escorted me to the start. She was then at 14.5 miles, exactly where I needed her and got me round the bleak Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf section and in to mile 21. She was my marathon saviour.

Michelle then took me from mile 21 to the finish, and was pulled out by a lovely and understanding marshall with 400m to go. She took me through the miles where I just wanted it to be over and reminded me to just take it all in and enjoy the moment – “smile, you are running London”. By this point, I was much happier walking, so we did. We walked a lot of the Embankment stretch and she helped me appreciate the spectacle I was a part of.

For the first 8 miles, I was flying. I was tucked in a few metres behind the 4:30 pacer, I passed through 10k at 1:03 and I loved running around Greenwich and Cutty Sark. But after that, it was just tough. After a loo stop, I never really found my rhythm again. There were several moments where I did not know how I was going to make it to the finish line. But somehow I did.

I’m really, really glad I’ve run the London marathon. I’m so grateful I got pulled from the ballot and I’m over the moon I got to experience my hometown run from the other side of the fence.

But I’m also content knowing that marathons aren’t for me. I’ve run two and although I’m proud of myself for doing them, I have no desire to do another one anytime soon. Maybe that will change at some point in the future, but right now, no.

I’m really thankful I knew I loved running before training for this race. If I had been through all the training and running the marathon in isolation, it would have put me off running for life. Running a marathon is hard. And it’s really quite far. I can’t wait to just stick to halves.

Today I feel a bit dazed and a lot broken.

I’m so glad it’s done.

———-

Massive shout out to everyone who I saw on the course:

Sarah in Rotherhithe and then right at the end

Angharad from my work

Laureen and Lawrence in Bermondsey

My mum at mile 13

Gosia who had loads of balloons for me at Tobacco Dock (so sorry I didn’t see you!)

Charlie who managed to get my attention from the other side of the road

Vicky for the hugs in Canary Wharf

Kiera, Beki, Becca, Jen and Elle – the TNR ladies at 23.6 who gave me a boost for those final couple of miles

Leeanne for the call out over the megaphone at the final corner

And of course my amazing Run Dem family at mile 21 – it was a total blur of noise, tears and confetti but knowing you had my back made my race

To marathon or not to marathon?

I want to run a marathon. I know that much. I know I want to do it… but at some point. After the amazingness of mile 21, along with hearing some incredible stories at Write This Run this weekend, I’m wondering what’s still stopping me. I’m currently thinking about running a marathon a lot, and so far it’s something I’ve always maintained I was nowhere near ready for. But I still want to be in that club, I want to go on that journey.

I have a serious problem of signing up for races (particularly half marathons) and then not doing them. Number of half marathons entered: five. Number of half marathons run: one. That is really quite shameful. I’ve made a promise to myself that I am not to do this anymore, and unless there is a genuine injury or accidental double booking (oops to entering The National Lottery Anniversary Run on the same weekend as a wedding in Norfolk), I will absolutely turn up to every race that I’ve paid my money for. There’s already a few.

So I’ve already begun to choose my races more wisely. And I know that training for a marathon is not to be taken lightly either. It’s deciding to sacrifice quite a lot for at least four months of my life. I found training for my first half very mentally difficult – way more than the actual running – and as much as I try for it not to be, I know a lot of the challenge I have with becoming a better/faster/stronger/more confident runner is all in my head. It’s the reason why, no matter how far I’m running, I’ll always take my travelcard – I’m never convinced I’ll make it all the way back again.

NWM SF

When I do decide to run a marathon I know that I’ll find it really quite hard. Of course I will – everyone does. But am I mentally strong enough? I can’t decide whether I can decide to do this for myself. I’m already in the ballot for VLM and come June I’ll be throwing my name in the hat for NWM in San Francisco too. If I get either (or both – ha!) of these, I’ll know it is meant to be. But the chances of getting a place in either of these races is slim, so then what? I’ve found myself on the Brighton Marathon website on more than one occasion over the last couple of weeks, but I can’t seem to enter myself. There’s a big, big difference between getting a ballot place (and therefore the marathon gods telling me this is my time) and me deciding for myself that this is my time.

I still don’t know what the answer is – for now I’ll just keep looking for a sign.