I had never tried running at the point that I decided I wanted to run the London Marathon, so the idea seemed quite daunting, but I’d always watched it on TV and wanted to give it a go.
So, after looking into it and seeing that charity places gave you a much better chance of getting in than the public ballot (where approx. 500,000 people apply for 15,000 spaces), I chose my charity and sure enough I got my space confirmed in August 2018. My chosen charity was Cardiac Risk in the Young, or CRY as they are more commonly known, as they have close links to my local football club and are prominent in my local community for this reason.
My training went well. I stuck fairly rigidly to a training plan aimed at those looking to finish in 3 hours 30 mins – 4 hours, albeit having to miss out 2 weeks in March due to a knee injury. With a couple of half marathons thrown in to keep me on track, I was feeling pretty ready for the day by the time it came around, and was pleased with how my training had gone, especially having heard horror stories from other runners on what had gone wrong for some people in the past.
The day finally arrived, and I headed to the Red start area, which is the starting zone for charity runners. The whole place was awash with charity tops and vests, some outlandish costumes (a man was dressed as Jesus, carrying a huge cross) and the atmosphere was incredible, albeit tinged with some palpable nerves as everyone prepared themselves for the run. I lined up in Zone 2, my starting zone and at 10:25 I stepped over the start line (the mass start was at 10:10 but they phase it by zones). The first 3 miles were amazing, with supporters everywhere, and this was the same for the whole way round. I tried keeping count of how many kids I high-fived, but gave up at 150 after mile 2! At mile 3, the various start zones then merged, and we were all running the same route from there onwards.
I saw my family and friends at our pre-agreed points, which gave me incredible boosts along the way. Running past landmarks such as the Cutty Sark, over Tower Bridge and through Canary Wharf gave me goosebumps, something that was quite a frequent occurrence during the day in all honesty. Then I hit the wall at about mile 21, and I hit it hard! Initially I noticed some twinging in my right hamstring, which concerned me, so I stopped to walk for 30 seconds and stretch it out, as it felt on the point of going, and both my legs suddenly felt 10x heavier, and were giving me the most bizarre sensation, I can only assume that was my bodies way of saying ‘what are you doing to me?!’. However, with some perseverance and determination to get around and make the most of the incredible day, I saw the last few miles out, and crossed the line in 3:58:45, a time I was pleased with for my first marathon!
My target time was 4 hours, so I was pleased to beat that, but I also beat my fundraising target of £1900, with a total of £1925. This was helped by some very generous donations from some of my Odyssey colleagues, which I am extremely grateful for.
If you are ever considering running the London Marathon, I could not say enough to recommend it! It was an incredible challenge, but it was almost the most extraordinary day, one that I will never forget. The feelings you experience around the 26.2 miles, and especially when you cross the line and meet with your family and friends afterwards is something that I cannot explain with words, they wouldn’t do it justice! The support is always 4 or 5 people deep, on both sides of the road, along the whole route. People are stood on rooftops, leaning out of windows, stood on bus shelters, doing anything to get a view and cheer everyone on along the way. It was nice to see local communities putting an effort in to support the runners, as you run through some slightly less ‘city’ areas. In these places there were pubs with bands playing outside, plenty of people with jelly babies and signs saying ‘touch for instant energy boost’, and alike, which really did keep your motivation up during the run.
Running for charity is also a very rewarding cause, and being able to raise such a big sum of money is a great feeling, knowing you are making a difference to a very worthwhile charity. Once again, I would recommend it to anybody, even if you don’t consider yourself a runner, with some good training, anyone can do it!
All in all, quite a good day out really!