The day had come, something I’ve been wanting to do since first watching the London Marathon on a spring Sunday morning in the nineties. I never planned to run regularly, certainly not run marathon after marathon, but to run the London Marathon was an ambition and something I planned to do, something to tick off on my bucket list. The London Marathon is actually how I got into running, I decided my one off marathon was going to be in London’s Olympic year, 2012, I entered the ballot after the 2011 event, waited months, then got the rejection letter. However, I had trained up to a half marathon and discovered something I enjoyed, I went on to run a marathon in the Olympic year, just not in London.
With my ongoing challenge, I’m trying to involve as many people as possible. As the marathon was in London it was time to invite friends along to cheer and party post race. I thought this was a great plan a few months ago, although with three or four days to go it struck me for the first time in my life I had quite a few people coming to cheer, some I hadn’t seen in quite a while! I actually felt some pressure on me to run well and make their efforts worth it, I had to remind myself they were coming to support and not judge. A trip to the expo to collect my bib and pre race goodies was the perfect chance to talk with other’s about the marathon and turn those nerves into excitement!
The day before felt different to any other marathon, I’d never spent the night before a marathon at home. I found myself with a whole day with not much to do, no travel, no expos, no hotels/restaurants. I had lots ‘to do’ but apparently you’re meant to rest the day before a marathon!? I’ll concede I went for a 10 minute run in the afternoon, followed by an hour of stretching. I just wanted it to be race day – I was excited to be have a 9 O’clock bedtime on a Saturday!
Sunday 26th April 2015. 5:30AM. This is it. London Marathon. Get up Adam. Today is the day you run a marathon in your home city. YES! So it is, after a good sleep I made light work of shovelling down porridge, croissants, bagels – oh how I love how much you can/need to eat when running a marathon! As I made my way on the tube you could tell it was marathon day, no other Sunday morning at 7AM do you see runner’s everywhere, nervous and excited faces amongst them and of course fancy dress – more on that later. As I got off the train at Greenwich, I really got the marathon vibes, following the crowds towards the park, the light drizzle eased and I started to think about just how big an event this really is. I entered the official ‘runner’s only’ area, had my final sips and nibbles, dropped my bag off, listened to nature’s call and then soaked in the atmosphere. A gentle warm up and dynamic stretching and then I headed for my starting pen. I was now in the crowd of runner’s I had seen for years. The minutes ticked away and then you hear the elite intros, Wilson Kipsang – current London champ and former WR holder, Dennis Kimetto – WR holder, just ahead of you these legends of the sport, WOW!
The elite’s were away and we started edging forward. As I passed through the gates of Greenwich park and turned left I was surprised to see just how near the start was. I threw my jumper to the side, all warm tops left at the side are collected for charity. We started jogging up to the start line and before I knew it my London Marathon had just started, I quite liked this as I didn’t need to look at the start, seeing it getting closer and closer. I have to admit at this point a significant chunk of this marathon was a blur. As many of you know, my main training is done with ‘Project Awesome London’, the team had set up just after mile six and I was tight on the right hand side eagerly anticipating them. With a sea of people it needed a big shout of ‘ADAM!’ to get my attention, I loved running by them and high-fiving all who were there to cheer.
I hadn’t really been keeping tracks on my pace until now, I guess as in Barcelona I was bouncing along to the support of the crowds. Once again I was running faster than planned but went with the same tactics as Barcelona, use the crowd or lose them! Just after mile ten I felt a snippet of cramp in my right hamstring but was so in the zone I pretty much ignored it. Before I knew it in front of me was Tower Bridge, one the marathons most iconic moments, one of London’s most iconic sights, I was running over it in the London Marathon! I do remember having a beaming smile at this point, I had run the bridge many times in recent months training with Project Awesome but this was different and from now on it will always be different.
Just after the bridge, the course takes a right turn and heads east, you soon cross the halfway point. Looking back at my stats now I actually ran a half marathon PB, I was clearly pushing it and well on course for a marathon PB. I now really want to run a half marathon and cement that PB! Unfortunately on both counts, my race calendar doesn’t permit a half marathon and that improvement on my current marathon PB will have to wait a little longer. You have to respect the marathon distance and maybe on this occasion I didn’t, that cramp I mentioned earlier was becoming a real pain and my pace was rapidly dropping. By mile fifteen I knew the PB had gone and in all honesty if this was a training run I would’ve stopped here, however you don’t just give up when in the London Marathon, or any marathon for that fact. You see all the signs of strangers by the sides rooting for you, for me personally a charity runner you remember why you are putting yourself through the pain, you hear your fellow runners shouting words of encouragement. Just after mile sixteen I ran on the right hand side again looking out for Team Project Awesome, it was amazing to see them and they definitely gave me the boost I needed. A few miles later the cramp in both hamstrings got to the point where I had to stop and stretch, having made it through my usual 45-60min toilet break I wanted this to be the first marathon I ran non stop and was gutted that I wouldn’t even be able to take that away with me.
Once again you hear strangers giving words of encouragement as your stumbled by the barrier trying to rid yourself of pain, numerous bowls of jelly babies and beans, chopped bananas and oranges, they say the crowd make London a special marathon and this is so true. A sign which stuck with me was, ‘Pain is temporary, Pride is forever’ I’ve seen this before but I guess I’d never seen it in as much as pain as that moment! On this occasion it helps having a fairly common name, as there were also many ‘Run Adam Run!’ signs. By the time I had got round to mile twenty it was a case of knuckling down and getting through, the crowds great throughout were getting even bigger. A regret from this marathon is I wish I could’ve enjoyed the final few miles so much more, the embankment a stretch I had walked, run and cycled hundreds of times. I do remember saying my own words back to me ‘the moment you smile, running becomes easier’ I may have said this many times! With just a mile to go I tried to pick up my pace and triggered major cramp, pulled over to the side and stretched out with a grimacing face, but I do remember so many shouts of encouragement. As I hobbled back into a shuffle there was a roar from the people I had just been in front of, I wish I had at least raised my hand to so my appreciation. As I made my way towards Buckingham Palace and the finish line in The Mall I knew the sprint finish wasn’t going to happen so I completely took in the moment and smiled my way towards that finish line.
Those final 100 metres and following minutes I felt emotional and completely different to any other event I had just finished. The atmosphere, the day, the moment, the thousands of runners and their personal stories, the thousands of volunteers and supporters which made everything so special, I was in this and part of it. Something I find particularly exciting about big city marathons is you get to compete and test yourself against the worlds best marathoners on the same course on the same day, there are very few sports which offer such an opportunity. As I passed mile thirteen, the elite were running the opposite way having just passed mile twenty-two! It was incredible to run the same day as Paula Radcliffe ran her last competitive marathon, an inspiration and legend of the sport; her world record set in London in 2003 is astonishing, she has the three fastest times ever run by a woman and no other women has come within three minutes of her time.
London Marathon is also a brilliant event for many charities, £450 million has been raised since it began in 1981, I thank Macmillan Cancer Support for my entry this year. It isn’t rare to see rhino’s running for Save the Rhino or London telephone boxes running for uh I don’t actually know. As mentioned earlier on the tube in the morning I saw fancy dress, I actually sat next to someone dressed as Watford FC’s mascot ‘Harry the Hornet’, this guy wasn’t your average runner, London was his 66th marathon and had already run in Boston on Monday previous. He was going for the world record for a marathon dressed as a mascot, he needed to beat 3:50. As we left the tube I didn’t see him again until just metres before the finish line, they ran out with a Guinness World Record certificate and congratulations to ‘Harry’ for finishing in 3:42!
Location: London, UK
Weather: 10-14°C, overcast/partly cloudy
Terrain: 100% road
Time: 3 hours 40 minutes
Nationalities I observed (other than UK): French, Spanish, Italian, Irish, Australian, Kiwi, Brazilian & American
So that is 4 down, 11 to go in #15in15, I said I didn’t want 15 easy marathons and 2 of my 4 so far have been challenging, you can support the #15in15 challenge here which is in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support
What’s next for #15in15? Sunday 17th May – Richmond Park Marathon – I WILL run wearing a sombrero if there are £200 worth of donations to above link with the hashtag # sombrerorun
What’s next for Adventure Adam?
Friday 8th May – Teaming up with Annie from Exerk for 7 London lidos in 7 days
Saturday 9th May – Hackney 5K fancy dress party run
Sunday 10th May – London ‘FUN-RUN’ Series – Shaun the Sheep 10K