April 18, 2014
Better go and put the kettle and make a couple sandwiches cos this is the longest one yet.
The last week of training was pleasant Tuesday and Thursday nice light jogging. I managed to find someone who would run with me, someone else who doesn’t mind listening to my mindless inane banter, albeit not for very long. Thanks for that, although I like to think we helped each other. Tuesday was meant to be 2 miles, but as we weren’t wearing Garmins, it was a guess, and the next day Mapometer confirmed, our 2 mile route was 3.2 miles. Thursday was better though, that was meant to be 5 and we did 5.07, can’t get vexed with that guess.
I was off work on Friday, so the final run of the prep work when Ruth turned up in the morning, 2 miles again. This time we were short and had to go round the block to get the distance. After the run, an hour helping Ruth prepare, and then I had a domcilliary massage. Great having it done in the home, and much more convenient. Now I am ready, for the run physically, still got to get the mental side sorted. A bit more support from family and friends and encouragement, and another visit to say good luck. All helps and all appreciated. Just to keep my mind active and off the run, I went to watch Mark lead his team out in the cup final (incidentally they won 5-1).
Me ready to go to London
The big day, day 1 the travelling. I travelled down on the same train as Keith Robertshaw which was a great help. Keith is a veteran of many marathons but has done 6 or 7 at London. He seemed so relaxed, and that confidence is infectious, in as much as I just followed him round and didn’t let anything worry me. Darren Purvis had left 1 hour ahead of us on the previous train, so when we arrived at Kings Cross he was already there. We met up with Darren and proceeded to buy the tube ticket. I have to say that I was impressed by the tube, alright just there for two days but it seemed clean and well run. (This was my first visit to London since I was 14…and in those days it was called Westminster the capital of Mercia) anyway, for about £7 we got an all day pass for the tube. Great bargain that, and well used!!
Once we got the tickets, we headed straight off to the Expo, this was just like a big conference centre with small cafés dotted round. Inside the main hall we had to collect our numbers and then proceed to collect our chips. After that we wandered round the exhibition just browsing the sales, that for me were reduced to the prices we would have paid in the shops at Newcastle normally. Still there was some nice stuff to look at, but I don’t go shopping with Linda so didn’t intend to with blokes, it’s just not right is it. After “shopping” we found a small cafe with a free table and rested our weary bodies cos when blokes shop till they drop it usually takes about 10 minutes. Then we set off back on the tube to the hotel.
We went to the hotel, and lounged round for an hour, then met up with some running mates from other local clubs, namely Jason Allison and Phil Coulson. And along with their lovely ladies we all dined on the finest Italian cuisine…more pasta! We returned to the hotel and settled quite early considering there was all the night life in the capital city, but we athletes were saving ourselves for the next day. At this point I dealt my room mate a sharp lesson on sleeping, just close your eyes and by the time your head is on the pillow you are asleep.
Interlude: a short pause while you go for a coffee, with some music if you like
We were up at the crack of 6:30 am showered and downstairs for breakfast, Jason who was in the same hotel, had already had breakfast but came back with us for a second coffee. At this point I am nervous but Keith and Jason seemed chilled. We wandered off to the tube and met Phil, and headed off to the start. Two tube changes, but part of the deal was that we get free tube travel on the day, just got to let them see your race number and they opened the gate.
Funny thing though, talking about coincidences, (were we?) Ruth Dadswell was on a trip to the big city on the bus arranged by Blyth, but it broke down and she had to get the tube to the start. Well in the whole world there was only me knew she was actually running (bit poetic license there), but the secret was out by 8:30 cos when our tube stopped at a station Ruth stepped on right next to where I was standing. That was good I actually felt ok at that point; my training partner who I was going to miss on my first long run in 3 months was with me. Sounds tacky, but I was relieved to see her.
We travelled to the next station and changed trains again, then we had to walk 10 minutes to the start area. The start area was a massive grassed area, probably like our exhibition park (the blue start), this race had three start areas, and do you know, I don’t even know where I was starting from. Not even the borough or location; all I knew was I was in London, somewhere!
We all made our way to the championship start area, everyone except me in our group was championship, I was just one of the masses. We had a couple of pictures before we went our separate ways. At this point I was starting to feel something, nervous but a bit excited. I sent a text to my friend Shirley, it was her charity I was running for, just to let her know I was ready to start, and also cos I was alone and it gave me some ownership. Strange me doing that, so unlike me.
At 10:00 we were officially started, I didn’t hear a gun or whistle or any notification we just started to edge forward, and in 3 minutes I was over the starting line and on my way. During the build up, people were being friendly, chatting, but I was in the zone thinking ‘what on earth am I doing here’. I did hear two lads talking saying they didn’t train for this. Instead of training they ran a marathon every week. They had done over 200 each. Can’t think why anyone would do that !!
The start was actually ok, I started off doing 8 1/2 minute miles, and by the third mile I had settled in to my preferred pace, 7:40’s. The first 2 miles were flat, then the third mile was downhill, that was alien to me, Ruth never let me run down a hill, up a few but never down. After 3 miles I was already thinking 23 left and working out that the next mile would be about a sixth, and then the mental arithmetic of if I keep that pace going what my projected time would be. I mean it’s amazing what you do in your head when you have 26 miles to cover.
The crowds on the street were great, but even that, at times you just felt like saying ‘here…give it a rest son’. Blowing whistles in your ear, banging drums, cow bells, but sometimes you know, it was good to hear. There was a point when there was a lot of booing going on round me. I was looking to see where we were, but, no idea. I thought it was football based having witnessed the Arsenal fans in the tube the day before, but it turned out to be banter. I hadn’t realised, but it was where two starts met and came together on the same piece of road, just a bit of rivalry.
Posted in Diary entry 4 years ago