After months of apprehension, minor injury paranoia, ice, snow and just about every other training complication you can imagine, here I was standing in the rain along with several thousand other expectant, budding athletes (and some proper ones too!) on Blackheath Common filled with eager anticipation as the start time loomed close……but it wasn’t any old start…. This was the start of the 2010 Virgin London Marathon.
Thanks to Nicky, Mike, Dave, Tom, Guy and everybody else at Croft Ambrey Running Club my very first marathon.
The rain stopped moments before the start, the sky cleared to eventual warm sunshine but not as warm as forecast.
Although my training didn’t go exactly to plan (does it ever?) I felt good and ready to go, a ripple of applause spread through the gathered throng signifying that the elite runners had started, we shuffled forwards, two minutes and we were off and running.
Through dozens of ‘high fives’, spectators’ applause, cheers and words of encouragement the first six miles was a breeze, keeping to my race strategy, aiming at seven miles each hour, checking my progress on my GPS watch (how flash does it get) around Cutty Sark and on towards half distance, still going reasonably well my halfway split was 01:55:22 and still on target for a sub 4 hour marathon.
Tower Bridge, along the Highway around the Isle Of Dogs and Canary Wharf still going well but with a nagging feeling that my legs were tightening up! Although I was snatching drinks at almost every drink station I knew that I had made a grave mistake in not drinking enough water before the start and now my legs were getting heavy.
At mile 19 something went ‘twang’ in my right calf, I had to stop, after some desperate self massage I began to walk, after a few yards I started to run, albeit slowly, I was determined to finish, 20 miles, 21 miles, 22 miles: I now felt cramp in both legs, having to stop 2 or 3 times more to try to ease the pain and stiffness in my legs.
Victoria Embankment, the last mile and a half, I’ll keep running now no matter what, turn right at the Houses of Parliament, down Birdcage walk, through huge cheering crowds, 600 metres to go, turn right onto the Mall, the finish is in sight, now I felt stronger and started to speed up, more photographers, through the finish gantry, I’ve done it!!! I’ve finished!!! 26.2 miles behind me, can I now call myself a marathon runner?
I didn’t quite achieve my sub 4 hour target but that all seemed incidental now!
What an amazingly mind blowing experience!
Through the anticipation, the exhilaration, the pain , the exhaustion and the amazing sense of achievement, thank you Croft Ambrey.
I’ll remember April 25th 2010 from now on and also remember that if it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t have been there at all!
And thanks also, of course, to all those of you that sponsored me in my quest to raise money for St. Michael’s hospice… the total is now well over £400 and still mounting.
Naturally I’ll be entering the ballot for next year!
Place: overall 14890 Gender 11859 Age Cat. 885 Finish Time 04:15:37