And they were possibly the most painful just-under-eight-hours of my life…. well, no, the two hours it took me to walk from St James Park to Westminster were definatly worse. Or this morning when I tried to get up for work (yes I went and put in a full day), that was pretty bad as well.
The weather was hot (hottest London Marathon ever) and I started well, though I had to walk off cramps in my calfs early on. The problems came when I pulled a muscle in my foot round the ten kilometre and the limping set my hip off, so by mile ten I was using my flag pole as a walking stick. That is not a good thing. Not with sixteen miles to go.
Needless to say, after crossing Tower Bridge and turing right (the opposite direction to the finish) and seeing most people heading the other way, well, it’s pretty despirting. Coming up to the sixteen mile marker I had to stop at one of the St John’s centres for a sit down.
Deciding to carry on till at least the next St John’s I discovered the greatest aspect of the London Marathon, and that’s the spectators. Despite being hours after all the elite runners and most of the rest of us there were still people out on the road cheering the straglers along. Lying through their teeth when they say the finish isn’t far now, but it all adds up.
[if you ever run it yourself wear something that identifys you, either with your name on it or, as in my case, I wore a running singlet with the welsh flag on it, carrying a welsh flag, so I got a lot of; “come on welshy!!” or “nearly there Taffy!!” and you know it’s for you. That helps.]
From mile seventeen I realised that if I wanted to get to the finish before eight hours I would have to complete the last nine miles doing twenty minute miles. This while having to limp and using a stick. What you end up doing is concentrating on the pace, one, two, one, two, one, two…. and end up ignoring the pain.
That is until you come through Westminster. Along the edge of St James’ Park, turn right when you get to Buckingham Palace and then you can see the finish halfway down The Mall.
Once you see the Finish you are just able to summon energy that you did not know you had. I had been limping for over sixteen miles, using my flag as a make-do crutch and yet I was able to break out into a (alibet slow) sprint waving my flag in the air. One of the nice things about finishing near last (35610th) is that you don’t have to worry about people getting in the way of your finishing photo. When I finished there were about five of us on The Mall and we were all pretty much spread out.
Will I do it again…..??? Well, it’s too soon for me to say yes (yes) but I’m damned proud that I’ve done it…. and I’ve set a time that I should be able to beat!!!
NB – for those interested, I’d had sunburn on my shoulders, chaffage on my thighs, arms and nipple (left), painfull; lower back, knee, ankles, hip, feet. There were blisters so big on my feet that when I took my running shoes off I could see them with my socks on. After averaging just over five kilometres per hour for the marathon, it then took me two hours to walk from St James’ Park to Westminster tube station (~600m).