Tuesday, 02 May 2017 17:12

London Marathon Report - Emily Stapleton

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I went down to London on Saturday to run the London Marathon.

To say I was nervous would be an understatement, as some of my posts last week might have hinted at. May be I should have worried less about the arrangements for the weekend and more about actually running the race, because in the event, the weekend went really smoothly…apart from the run itself, where the unexpectedly warm day and massive crowds got to me. I ended up running 24 minutes slower than my PB and a good 10 minutes slower than I’d hoped. My hopes of “enjoying every minute” of the run were dashed and instead I was just grateful to finish at all. Having said that, these are my highlights of the weekend:
1. Bumped into a couple of people from the running club at the station, who wished me good luck. Always nice to see some friendly faces when you feel like you’re about to be sick with nerves.
2. Meeting a guy from Lancaster parkrun on the platform, finding out he was also running London, and ending up going to the expo with him. It was great to meet someone so friendly, just by chance like that, and his advice to use the contactless payment for the underground was invaluable!
3. Lunch at Woodlands, a fantastic South Indian vegetarian restaurant (I recommend the Masala Dosa and Tandoori Cauliflower), situated just off Regent Street. An oasis of calm in otherwise chaotic central London.
4. Immediately getting back into using the underground after 15 years away from London (I was dreading it but it just felt SO familiar and GOOD).
5. Green Park – gorgeous green space right in the middle of London. I wanted to just go sit in the sun on one of the deckchairs.
6. Our apartment just off Baker Street was in the perfect location. Thanks
7. Going to the start of the marathon with all the other runners – really fun – that was the bit I was dreading but it was so easy and great. I loved listening to the pre-race chatter. Runners are all the same in the end; everyone has their story.
8. The green start was incredible. If you ever get a chance of a good for your age place, it really is worth it. Over the line in 3 minutes, right behind the pacer, got into my perfect pace straight away (rest of the race was a different story but never mind).
9. Tower Bridge – very moving – highlight of the course for me. You do have to watch out for the person in front of you suddenly stopping and turning round to take a selfie of themself running backwards over the bridge though.
10. “Uptown Funk” (being played on repeat I think) at around 13 miles – if that had been playing throughout my run I think I could have done sub 3:45 – I was suffering at that point but it just gave me an instant boost.
11. Repeatedly passing and then being passed in the last 6 miles by a guy dressed as a chef and carrying a Le Creuset pot (those things are heavy!), who was clearly suffering and seemed to be being dragged along by a guy carrying a South Africa flag.
12. Looking over to my right randomly at one point and spotting Prince William handing out water! I’m pretty sure he spotted me too (must have been the Heads Together headband).
13. Colin Jackson high fiving everyone who went past and looking just as genuinely happy to be there as he always does on TV.
14. Someone shouting out “come on Lancaster & Morecambe” as I went past and sounding like seeing me had actually made their day (the littlest things can cheer you up in the latter stages of the marathon).
15. Most random sign seen in the crowd all day: a Vote Labour poster. I suppose when you’ve got over 40,000 people running past you, it’s as good an opportunity as any to do some campaigning.
16. Some guy next to me accepting something from a volunteer at the side of the course, then saying “what’s this?” and looking disappointed and slightly disgusted when he realised it wasn’t food but Vaseline.
17. With 200 metres to go, finish line in sight, hearing this shout of “yeeeaaahhh!!!” from behind me and then watching this little guy I’d just overtaken suddenly go sprinting off towards the line.
18. Randomly bumping into a fellow Lancaster & Morecambe AC member at the end and finding out he’d hated it just as much if not more than I had. Felt less like a freak, and less alone in a crowd of 40,000 people who all seemed to be loving it (I’ve since realised probably not many of them really are).
19. The race organisation was absolutely incredible from start to finish. At the end particularly – collected medal, t-shirt in the right size, and my bag with no queues, no hassle. The expected crowds of supporters and disorientation didn’t materialise.
20. Exiting the Mall at the first exit point and ironically finding myself exactly on the steps my dad had kept saying we should meet up at, but which I’d said would be too crowded with family and friends because they were too close to the finish. Oh well.
21. Random girl coming out of Fortnum and Masons as I limped past, spotting my medal and going “Have you just done the marathon? That is SO COOL!”
22. Walking back to Euston Station past the block of flats I lived in for two years. Brought back some great memories and it’s still a lovely part of the city in my opinion. I love that feeling of being at home in a big city.
23. Traveling back on Sunday night on a train full of other runners, and for once not feeling like a total lemon for proudly showing off my race t-shirt and medal.
24. The best bit. Reading everyone else’s marathon stories afterwards. It almost makes me want to do it again. Almost. But, sadly, none of these highlights has much to do with running, and for me London is way too crowded to be fun, and is at a time of year when there’s always a good chance of a hot day spoiling months of training. So I won’t be back, but thanks London, for some great memories.

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