April 28, 2017
Its finally here, the main event after months of planning and inconstant training I find myself in Newcastle airport chatting to Rob Wilson and the young lady who picked my name from the hat sealing my fate so many months ago. Rob and his family were off to Spain for the Madrid marathon which he smashed WELL DONE ROB!!
We arrived at Heathrow and armed with pre-paid Oyster cards we managed to navigate across London to the expo so I could pick up my number, 21200 in the blue start zone.
There was a buzz about the place and I was amazed at all the different nationalities and walks of life all with the same common interest, all looking forward to Sunday and maybe all panicking inside like me. We took some time to wander around and soaked up the atmosphere before heading back across the city, via a ride on the London Eye, to the hotel so I could rest.
I awoke on marathon eve with plans to take it easy, a long slow breakfast maybe see a ccouple of sights but mainly rest. This did not happen – we were in Covent garden for 9.30am and continued to walk around the city taking in the sights and arranging a meeting point for when and if I finish. I would say I covered 26.2 on the Saturday just exploring but this weekend was not just for me even though I did get to meet Spongebob.
Alarm goes off a 6.00am sharp I’m up ready and out the door for 7.00am travelling to the start line. I start chatting to other runners, everyone seems nervous yet excited; I think to myself this is it, its finally happening. I arrive at Blackheath, the blue start zone at 7.30am, for too early for my liking but it gave me time to get my head together. The atmosphere at the start was quiet and subdued, there was no loud music like the Great North Run (this suited me), but there was the unmistakable scent of Deep Heat in the air, that alone states there is about to be a race.
Once I had tied my laces for the tenth time I headed for the start pen number 6, I can’t remember what time I had set myself when I applied but I was happy to be near the back. The crowd started moving; slowly walking forward I checked my GPS for the umpteenth time took a deep breath and as soon as I could I started running!!
The first couple of miles were easy weaving in and out of folk trying to get ahead, taking in the atmosphere and having delusions about pipping the Kenyans to the post. However, this would turn out to be short lived. I sailed through 10k on target for sub 4hr loving the experience, then around mile 8/9 I got stomach problems. I decided to push on past the facilities laid on by the race organisers, still weaving in and out but slowing, I turned a corner only to see the majestic sight of Tower Bridge. I now knew I was half way but I also knew I was struggling, mile 14 is where you can see the top runners steaming towards the finish with only about 4 miles to go; that’s where I spotted Tracy Millmore powering along and looking strong, I thought to myself she will be finished back at the hotel with a well-deserved drink and her feet up well before I reach the same spot on the other side of the road. WELL DONE TRACY YOU WERE OUTSTANDING!!! (14th female – Editor)
Also racing were Keith Robertshaw and Darren Purvis; I did not see them during the race but with their ability I probably blinked and missed them – WELL DONE GENTLEMEN!!
I struggled on still in awe of the pace of the top runners, wondering if it was possible for myself to reach that standard; also still carrying the same stomach issues, it was no good I had to stop. My legs felt like blocks of wood and my morale was at an all-time low, what had happened. I knew I was not going to do well, I knew I was not ready for the full 26.2 so why was I about to break down, “come on David sort ya act out you’re a grown man”. That’s when the crowd support makes a difference, everyone and I mean everyone was shouting and screaming, willing us on, driving us towards the finish line, and as the finish drew closer the crowds got stronger. The last three miles were like nothing I have ever experienced before, I was in agony. I could only shuffle along – my left foot felt like it had a nail drove through it and my shoulders were killing me for some reason? Yet I was smiling (inside) the sun was shining, there was an amazing backdrop of the London Eye then Parliament, and an atmosphere that was incredible; so many people, all shouting words of encouragement – it made the glory mile on the Great North Run look like a parkrun in January. I shuffled past Buckingham Palace down the Mall and over the finish line, 04:43:42 position 16701.
The next hour are so is a blur there were people congratulating me yet I felt it was undeserved – I was disappointed with my time and in a way, I still am, but I came to realise I’m not a racer (yet). I run because I enjoy it and I have had one of the best weekends I have ever had!!
I will run London again (I have a point to prove to myself) but I will not be putting my name down for the club ballot, I believe it’s only fair I abstain for one year to increase the chances and enable other club members to experience the London Marathon. I’m also looking forward to reading their blog!
Thanks for all the support it means a lot! Well that’s me done London 2017 complete!