1 = First race over the distance. PB = Personal best time over the distance.
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Having watched the London Marathon on TV for years thinking ‘I’d love to do that’ the 23rd of April was definitely a dream come true for me. From the moment my name was pulled out the hat at the ERN Sunday run at Meadowbank as one of the lucky members to be allocated a London Marathon place, I was never in any doubt that even if I had to crawl over the finish line on the Mall I would complete the 26.2 miles.
The whole weekend itself was a buzz from start to finish. I flew down to London on the Friday at 7.10am and was lucky to be able to check straight into my hotel right next to the Excel Centre at 9.30am. I had planned to visit the Expo that afternoon but as I could not contain the excitement of getting my running number I headed straight there! Collecting my number and timing chip was really easy, hardly any queues! Stepping inside the exhibition itself I was like a ‘kid in a sweetie shop’, so many London Marathon running items to buy and not enough space in my kit bag! However I managed! Once I had wandered around the many stands I sat and listened to Martin Yelling’s motivation marathon talk which was really interesting and full of top tips for the big day!
The day itself dawned pretty cloudy and a bit breezy; I breakfasted early and then headed off on the DLR to Blackheath. I was at the start by 8.30! I hate being late although this was perhaps a bit too keen! I spent the next hour or so going to the toilet and then re-joining the queue and going again.
At 10.10 I finally crossed the start line and I was off and running, giving Wills and Kate a quick wave on the way past. Obstacle number one was the speed bumps at the start, just to make things more interesting. Speed bumps safely negotiated my first main focus was to get to Cutty Sark which is about mile 6. Cutty Sark was absolutely my favourite part of the route, it’s the bit I most associate with when watching on the TV, that and the fact I was only 6 miles in and the enormity of what was to come was still at the back of my mind!
Cutty Sark, safely negotiated and some frantic waving at the TV cameras, my next landmark was Tower Bridge at the half way point. I plodded along, fairly comfortable and finally started the run up onto Tower Bridge which was awesome; you can’t quite imagine what it feels like.
After that point, reality kicks in a bit and I realised I was still only half way. The crowds still kept coming though and cheering you on. There were times though I have to admit I did find it all a bit overwhelming as the sounds of people cheering, screaming, bands playing and drums banging all started to merge together and there was a moment when I thought ‘get me out of here’.
Around mile 15, I had to make a toilet stop, I joined the portaloo queue where there were some spectators thinking rather foolishly that they would go ahead of us runners. I think they would have been lynched if they had tried!!
Onwards again, this time my sights set on Canary Wharf and beyond. Running through Canary Wharf with the high rise buildings alongside you is pretty cool and another highlight of the race. By this time I am toiling and that’s when you really do draw on your mental strength and think of all the people who have sponsored you and also my Mum and Dad who were waiting for me on the Mall.
At last, the Mall was approaching, the end was in sight. Now to try and spot my folks which I did pretty quickly. I practically ‘cut up’ the rest of the field as I sprinted across to them at the barrier to give them a quick kiss and a cuddle, almost sending my legs into spasms in the process!
Running down the Mall itself is the most amazing experience and the one thought that kept me going through all my training. I somehow managed a sprint to the line despite almost crawling a few miles before. With my medal round my neck it was time for some photos, collect my bag and locate my folks.
The London Marathon was a fantastic experience and one I will never forget so thank you very much Edinburgh Running Network for the opportunity, that’s a big tick on my bucket list!
Photos courtesy of Gina Browse, Karen Illsley, Patricia Irving