The London weekend the second time round didn’t seem any less daunting than the first time round. The train left Telford at 8:30 and already you could sense nervous runners making the big journey down to the capital.
As usual we had to go down on the Saturday to attend the Expo at the Excel to register and collect our numbers. Once we got there the whole place buzzed with excitement and sheer realisation of just what lay ahead of us all tomorrow. 26.2 miles of the capitals streets. It was incredibly busy at the expo on the Saturday when we got there so we just had a quick wander round then left.
(Picture above : Me collecting my number at the expo)
We then headed back to the apartment and had a chilled out evening with a home cooked pasta dish… perfect fuel before the race the following day.
The morning of the race eventually came and it was time to get ready and head to Greenwich Park for the starting area. The plan was to meet with the Slimming World team for before pictures and see Amy & Jo (From Head Office) to wish us all well. I said bye to my brother (who also ran, for Action on Hearing Loss) and left him at his pen and also said bye to mum & dad as this was where they had to leave us.
(Photo above : Saying bye to Ben & Mum & Dad)
As I carried on walking I met Amy & Jo and they took a picture and I then went to my Blue Start area where I would meet 2 other team members. The other 10 Team Slimming World runners were red start and so they met nearer to their start.
(Picture above : Team Photo collage)
I eventually got to my starting area after a very slow apprehensive walk up the hill through Greenwich park. As you can tell by all of the layers it was a rather cold morning (at least the snow that had been forecast didn’t actually happen!). I had intended on keeping the layers on until the race started then ditching them. In actual fact, I kept them on for the first mile or so to make sure I properly warmed up.
(Photo above : Walking up to the start)
The whole area in the blue zone was buzzing, the smell of deep heat thick in the air, the queues for the loos nearly a mile long and the tension of just what lay ahead. It was soon time to drop bags off and queue for the loo for the last time. When I was stood around I also met David another team member so I didn’t quite feel like I was alone! We then saw Stuart Eggleshaw (one of Team Slimming World) being interviewed on BBC on the big screen! It was amazing, it felt like we had a celebrity on the team.
Eventually we went off to the start pens and met Kim the third member of our team to start in Blue. We were in the back pen (9) but we were determined to make it one heck of a race. We might have been in the slowest pen but I was still determined that I had a PB in me from last years time (5:06).
(Photo above : Start line selfie – myself, David & Kim).
Eventually the race got under way… mile 1 felt rubbish but as the saying goes you never trust a long run by the outcome of the first mile. I soon caught up to the 5 hour pacers and I had intended to stay quite close to them but I felt surprisingly good so I kept going.
I saw mum & dad for the first time just after mile 6 near the Royal Naval College in Greenwich and I felt good but still quite daunted at the fact that I knew exactly what lay ahead of me this time round.
Finding myself catching up to the 4:45 pacers I still felt okay. I saw Anna, Rosie & Julie (from the Wakefield Running Mammas) at mile 7 and they gave me a massive cheer, a real boost of spirits. Before I knew it it was time to take the first shot block at mile 8 and making sure I kept hydrated gave me other things to think about besides the blisters that were unknowingly developing under my feet.
Before I knew it we were at Tower Bridge & I remember it from last year being electric and I really took the atmosphere on this year. I loved it! As always (besides crossing the finishing line) that will be the highlight!
Miles 14 to 16 felt okay, I was slowing down a little bit but it was to be expected when I had stupidly set off a bit quick. I saw my Mum & Dad again at mile 16 near Mudchute and they told me I was looking good and to keep on going. I kept on going, with a few little hills that felt like mountains up slip roads it took some pushing. But one by one I counted the miles down. Still taking a shotblock every few miles with water & lucozade to hydrate.
I got to mile 20 and I have always said throughout any road marathon this is where I am happy to have a little walk break. Mile 20 felt the right place to do it, the atmosphere was till amazing & I knew someone would shout my name when I knew I needed to run again! I then got back running. I saw my Dad just before mile 21 and I have to admit, I got a little emotional again. It was the same place where I had got emotional last year and it was all coming back to me. This time round though, I carried on, knowing I was wanting a time so desperately and got back to it.
Mile 21 to 23 seemed like a bit of a chore but I found myself distracting my legs and counting the water stations and looking at the signs some people had up from “touch here for power” to my personal favourite “shut up legs”.
The last 5k came around and I knew then that it was just a parkrun, I couldn’t possibly walk any of this last section. So I carried on. Eventually I crossed the line in 4:49:54! A massive 17 minute PB on last years time as I was absolutely over the moon! Not only had I done sub 5 that I so desperately wanted, I had done sub 4:50!
(Picture above : Finish line picture taken by the Army)
As I walked up the finish gantry, I was presented with a medal by a Fellow Run for Fun member (really sorry, I cant remember your name!) who gave me a big hug! I then carried on walking and got one of the army to take a picture. You then get given a goody bag & eventually you get to your HGV where you dropped your bag off and they hand your bag straight over.
I decided to change into my flipflops & put my fleece round me. And carried on walking up the mall where I found a Cancer Research Volunteer who directed me to the finishers celebrations and even carried my bags up the stairs! When we got there we were greeted like true heroes! I honestly cannot thank Cancer Research and Team Slimming World enough. We got given flipflops & offered a massage. Then there was food galore! I got handed a drawstring bag & told to get what ever I fancied. Needless to say I filled the bag. All I desperately wanted was a bag of ready salted crisps. I found some & devoured them!
I then found Amy & Jo who gave me a massive hug & took the finishers picture! I was then told I could have my medal engraved for free. I wanted to make it personal and remember the fact that I had done the time I so desperately wanted so I had to have it done.
(Photo above : Team Slimming World)
The reception was amazing, eventually my dad found us & gave me a massive hug!
We then went to meet Ben at his charity reception and I am pleased to say he did 5:31 which for his first ever marathon is great! 🙂
That is pretty much it… as they say, the rest is history! I absolutely loved it. And honestly would do it all again in a heartbeat.
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