It’s not that I underestimated how hard it would be. It’s that I really underestimated how hard it would be!
I started off quite well and the weather turned out to be actually perfect for running; cool but not too cold and pretty much dry all the way round. Then at some point, I think it was about mile 14, I was desperately in need of the loo but it seemed that everybody else was at that point too because the queues for the portaloos were really long and I ended up waiting about 15 minutes just to get in. I watched the 4.45 pacers go past and then the 5.00 pacers.
That’s when my muscles started seizing up and from then on it was a really tough ride. The rhinos, giraffe, ostrich and Big Ben who I’d gone past easily in the first half soon left me behind. From about 17 miles onwards I started walking a bit in between the running but it was a bit of a comedy walk as I was having bouts of cramp. Somewhere about mile 20/21 I spotted a St Johns station and got a wonderful calf rub that helped me to run slowly but continuously for another couple of miles. She told me I wasn’t drinking enough water, which was probably true as I was wary of stopping for another loo break, and she wanted me to sit down for a bit as I looked a little dizzy. It’s true I wasn’t able to formulate complete sentences at that point but that was because I was in that place where l was just determined to get to the end and distractions were a little hard to register.
I knew I ran past the London Eye and Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament but they were just on the periphery of my mind and I didn’t really take them in. In fact my sisters and brothers had to shout my name a few times when they spotted me before I saw them!
However I think partly that was because there were so many other people shouting my name and encouraging me. Virtually the entire route was lined with people and that was something I’d never experienced before. It was amazing. Complete strangers shouting out my name and willing me on. For the first few miles I was running and chatting with someone I met at the start and we were both saying that our jaws were hurting from smiling so much; it felt like a carnival, a great big celebration.
The smiles turned to a grimace at the end. But I did get to the end. And I’m still walking just about, although I do go up and down the stairs like my 95 year-old grandma. The run didn’t quite go according to plan but I am no longer a marathon virgin and the time I eventually got, 05.36.53, is my first benchmark. I can learn from this experience and hopefully by the next one I’ll be a little bit stronger and a little bit wiser.