I did it! Marathon #4 and the first of two this year. 4 hours and 9 minutes of running. What a day.
We’re a day late, but here’s a recap of how it all unfolded.
I’m going to start two weeks ago actually, when I announced that my favourite part of the training was upon us: the last big week of mileage followed by two weeks of taper. Well, I was wrong about that one. Only two days into the taper did I find a lump in my neck which gradually started to increase and then give me an earache and headache. My glands were up. I was exhausted and feeling rundown. Not exactly how I managed the taper weeks to go.
For the first week I had this feeling of being rundown and generally under the weather, so my training really did taper off a cliff. By week two, I was starting to feel better, but it was only really by Thursday of this week that I felt properly ok. A bit too close to marathon day for my liking!
Saturday was an easy day; a quick run in the morning and plenty of carbs in the evening. I started to organise my bag and get my kit ready when I realised I couldn’t find my race belt. Where had it gone? It literally lives in one basket by my trainers and yet it wasn’t there. This was my means to carry my phone and gels and I couldn’t find it anywhere.
Obviously, I did the most rational thing in that situation and panicked. How would I carry everything? What about all my gels? I don’t have enough pockets!
After some more searching, my race belt was pronounced missing, presumed dead and plan B had to be pulled together. Plan B turned out to be “stuff my pockets with gels and look like a packhorse” as there really wasn’t any other option.
BBC weather was also playing havoc with planning tasks as they were now forecasting heavy rain all day. Oh joys. Running a marathon in heavy rain is no fun for anyone. So, deciding what to wear and what to pack took even longer.
Then the morning arrived, a bright and clear day with no hint of rain. Brilliant, just what we ordered but no thanks to the BBC! After a big bowl of oats, which honestly I really couldn’t stomach, we made our way to Blackheath, where my start line was.
On arrival I dropped my kit bag, stood in the worlds longest toilet queue and then before we knew it, it was my time to go! And just like that, we were off. Some people literally sprinted over the line with me, as I thought to myself “you’re going to pay for that, sunshine!”
All I kept thinking was “get bored before you get tired” and I did; I took the first fifteen miles nice and steady and felt really quite comfortable with it. Passing through Cutty Sark around six miles was unbelievable. The noise, the atmosphere, the crowds; it was just crazy. At points the crowds were 10 deep. How mad is that?!
All along the route so many people were shouting my name and willing me on. I think it really helped being called Jo as rhyming with “Go”, I heard some real inventive shoutouts!
I saw Andy at mile 7 and then Mum and Dad at mile 11 – still feeling really great. Then I headed over Tower Bridge and saw Jas and Jez at mile 13. My next sighting was Andy at mile 14 and then I hit mile 15 and the end of the easy ride. I was then slowing and it started to feel hard. Thankfully the MS-UK support crew were at mile 17 and then Mum and Dad again at 18. I saw Andy one final time at mile 20 and then I was basically crawling to get through the last 6 miles.
It helps so much seeing people along the route that you know and love. I saw Cress briefly at Monument, which is about mile 22 and then MS-UK and Mum and Dad at 24 then it was a two mile struggle to the end.
My quads were on fire and I just couldn’t lift them at all! I felt like I was going backwards! It was the longest two miles of my life.
I finally turned onto the Mall and saw the finish line. There was absolutely no way I was sprint finishing (literally how people were, I have no idea) but I made it across the line. Apparently Kipchoge was handing out medals! Unfortunately not mine, but maybe I was within 50 metres of him and that’s all I need to know.
I slowly waddled to Horseguards Parade where I was collected by Andy and a friendly man from MS-UK, who took us all to the post-race reception. The charity had put on a lovely reception for us and I entered to cheers and applause. It was really lovely and to get a post race massage straightaway was even better!
When I could walk a bit more freely, we headed off in search of some food and celebrated with some pizza and Prosecco! Mum and Dad then left for their hotel and we headed back to my flat. By now I was exhausted but my legs were so painful in the evening, I struggled to get off to sleep! How annoying when you’ve just run 26.2 miles.
I woke up today with equally stiff legs but a massive medal at least to show for it! I am also so grateful for the wonderful support of Mum, Dad, Cress, Jas and Andy, between them they really did so much.
I am still fundraising for MS-UK, so if you were waiting for me to actually do the marathon to sponsor me, well now’s your time, as I did it. Officially. Please just click this link – thank you.
1 down, 1 to go and then I think I’ll be a retired marathon runner…