Friday, 27 April 2018

LONDON MARATHON 2018


PART ONE


Team Variety
Becca and I nervously smiling
Nerves and excitement were overtaking my body and I wasn’t quite sure how to handle these emotions or channel the energy. I met Becca at Greenwich and we walked to the start together, had a photo, used the toilets twice and I was cheeky and snuck into her start zone. I am so glad I did this because I think although there were so many runners, I would have felt quite lonely otherwise. We chatted the whole time, questioned if we needed the toilet, if we were hungry, thirsty, ready. Becca’s sports belt zipper broke and we had a slight panic, but fixed quickly with a safety pin then before we knew it we were crossing the start line. Thank you to Becca for crossing the start with me! We waved at the cameras, settled in our pace and Becca went on ahead. The atmosphere was buzzing from the get go, it was so hot but that brought out the best in the crowds! I tried not to weave too much and stuck to my goal pace for the first 4 miles. Someone had already collapsed at mile 3 and was receiving medical help, which reminded me to be careful and listen to my body. Mile 5 I saw another person struggling on the side also receiving medical attention. I held my hand to my chest and could feel my heart rate was sky high at a pace I normally find easy, and decided to reign it in, slow down. When not used to running in these conditions, our bodies work overtime. We start to use up glycogen stores quicker, loose our electrolytes sooner and easy pace becomes hard pace. I decided to run to heart rate and not pace, and although I didn’t actually have a HR monitor I went by feel, and if I could say a sentence out loud with ease or not, if I couldn’t, then I slowed down and just stuck with conversation pace. The first water station was a godsend, I poured some on my neck and wrists which felt amazing and held onto it taking small sips, then at the next water station dropped in some of my electrolyte tablets. I was going slower than I wanted but honestly did not mind, I was having a blast!

PART TWO


About mile 6 I reached down for another of my clif chews to see that my packet was no longer there! It must have slipped out of my belt loop which meant I had lost 4 chews which to me was 2 nutrition stops. I use a mix of chews, gels and real food in the form of a chia flapjack. I panicked, thought of a new plan in my head and remembered there would be some gels handed out at some point on the course so if I needed to, I could grab one. Before I knew it I was at mile 8, which is where I knew to look out for my boyfriend Dom and his family. I kept to the left knowing that’s where they were hoping to be and all of a sudden saw a sign and Karen (Dom’s mum) screaming my name with the rest of the family and Dom taking photos. I quickly high fived Dom but kept going, this gave me a real boost and my pace picked up again for about half a mile, then I remembered to reign it in. The crowds were so loud, I was lapping it up, strangers shouting out my name and singing along to the music that was being played at various points. All of a sudden I was approaching Tower Bridge and I thought OMG I’m almost half way! Just before the bridge, I took on a gel and took my first walking break. I decided after this that each time I took on any nutrition I would walk. It made it easier to breathe. The heat just made all these usual easy things a lot harder! It was really busy here and because I was walking everyone was screaming at me to run, I got onto the bridge and got quite emotional, gel finished and sprinted over that bridge feeling like Mo. I already knew my weaving had caused me to run extra, because my watched beeped at 13.1 but the half way sign was still in the distance. Just pass the half way point, the charity I ran for Variety had a cheer point, they were amazing, screamed my named took some photos and again I had such a buzz. Temperatures were now getting really hot, I could feel the salt on my head and even my thighs so took some more water with electrolytes and ran under the showers when I could to keep cool. I remember thinking, get to 16 miles and then it’s just 10 more, time was going so fast though that mile 16 came sooner than expected!

PART THREE




Grabbing an essential orange slice...
Oranges saving me...

Here I started to see more people struggling, people collapsed at the sides of the roads, people being taken away on stretchers. I had to stop myself from looking because it made me feel so scared. It reminded me to keep running safe, listen to my body. I knew again at mile 19 I would see Dom so started breaking the race down, just 5km to go to see Dom. I was getting through my nutrition faster than usual because of the conditions, and because I had lost a whole pack of chews I was wondering what to do. I grabbed a Lucozade gel from the volunteers and shoved it in my pocket for when I fully ran out in case I needed extra, but the life saver for me was the orange slices people were handing out! Jelly babies are not for me when I run, especially in the heat! The make my mouth so dry with the powder but almost every spectator hands these out, which is so kind but just not what I was after. Whenever I saw someone with orange slices, I would dart over and grab one. I think I had about 10…they were so refreshing and provided that little bit of sugar for a burst! Just as I grabbed one I saw Dom and family again but very briefly as I was in a stride and focused on my orange. I felt a little sad that I didn’t stop to speak to them so I got my phone out and called Dom. He didn’t answer but I left a long voicemail explaining my race plan, pretty much justifying my pace which I know I didn’t need to do but it made me feel better. Mile 20 and I still was enjoying the race, hadn’t yet thought “why” or “never again” and had some energy in the tank to pick the pace up a  bit for the last 10km. My quads were starting to hurt though, and I hadn’t yet seen my Mum or Dad or bumped into any other runners I knew. The noise was starting to get a bit too much and I honestly felt a little lonely and then started to get upset. Some boys started shouting “Livvy Livvy Livvy, oi oi oi” which made me laugh and got me going again. That was just a minor blip, I was so close to becoming a marathoner I just had to push on. My walk breaks for nutrition were nice but they started to make it more difficult to get going again so I made them a lot shorter and just kept running. 


PART FOUR




Am I the only one that got the airplane dance memo?

Mile 20 I saw an Insta friend Chris at the water station which was so nice to see another familiar face, even for a brief second! I was loving the race but honestly felt quite overwhelmed. When we went through Blackfriars underpass the noise from the crowds went and I took it slow. I quite enjoyed the moment of quiet and just listening to the pounding of everyone’s feet. The crowds make London, but my ears were ringing! I think there was now just over 5km to go, I was so close. Quads hurting and now my shoulders and back too, I was out of nutrition but couldn’t face a gel so took some Lucozade from one of the paper cups, downed it and got on my way again. I couldn’t believe that I was still moving, sure I had some aches and pains but I started to think how much fun I had and how quick the race had gone and that I almost didn’t want it to be over. Don’t get me wrong, I was excited to see the finish line but I started to think about my running journey the last 18 months, how much it has changed me. The last 18 weeks of hard work, all building up to this one moment, today. I got very emotional again, and to stop myself from crying I started singing Sean Paul out loud. It was the last song I’d heard that morning and I’m not to sure what came over me but there I was, running down embankment singing Sean Paul. I realised I was at 25 miles and started to really search for my family. Why hadn’t I seen them yet? I just needed to see them, hear them. The race was almost over. I was also searching for the famous cheer squad of Instagram, but couldn’t see them either. Houses of Parliament appeared and I was on the home straight. 1km to go. Emotional again, my family HAVE to be somewhere surely. I was so upset they hadn’t seen me. My watch beeped at 26.2 miles at 4 hours 41 minutes but I still had more to go. I started sprinting and kept my fastest pace for the whole race on that last 500m. 


PART FIVE


So close!

200m to go sunglasses off, game on! I crossed the finish line, hands in the air…started to cry but no tears came out because I must have been dehydrated. I felt so sad I hadn’t seen Mum or Dad, but also so happy that I had a good, enjoyable race. It was my first marathon and I will never get that again, I’m so happy I took the decision to run slower, look up at the sights and enjoy the crowds. Sure, it can get a bit much. But I am so grateful to every person that was there cheering that day, you are the Spirit of London. My legs became stiff and I found it difficult to walk, it took me a while to make it to the bag collection and then the meeting point. Turned out my Dad and stepmum had kept missing me, and my Mum, sister and stepdad had seen me. In fact they were so close they could have touched me…I have no idea how I missed them. They were so loud too! I am on cloud 9. This has been a crazy journey. I now know that I love long distance. That 26.2 is one my favourites. I know there will be tough, maybe unenjoyable races in the future, ones where I will struggle more, push more. But I will take each race as it comes. I did not get the time I had trained for, but I got the marathon experience I was hoping for. I am very sad to hear of those who did not have a good race, those who collapsed and very sadly those who did not make it. I will be running 3.7 miles on Sunday in honour of Matt. For those who maybe have been inspired by any of the recent marathons and are questioning if you should do one next year…do it. Put your name in the ballot. I believe in you. The whole journey of getting to the start line is something in itself. There’s that cheesy quote that you can learn everything you need to know about yourself in 26.2 miles…but I now understand that. Go for it. Break barriers, expectations and take on the journey. Now it’s time to train for Berlin…

Livvy

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