As those running today’s marathon make their way to The Mall its made me feel very nostalgic about when I completed the London Marathon in 2010.
I often get asked how the hell someone as unsporty and uncoordinated as I managed it. So I thought I’d create my personal guide for getting through the day for any inspired to do it next year.
Best of luck to all those running right now, it was definitely one of the best days of my life.
Also I’m especially thinking of my amazing cousin Liz who is running today in memory of her mother and my aunt MaryAnn – it’s an amazing thing she is doing. I’m tracking her progress and she is doing amazingly well! Well done Liz, we’re so proud and will be near the finish cheering you on!
Run like no one’s watching. That’s what I had to do, as I’m knock-kneed and look ridiculous when I run.
People often ask me what are the best tips for completing a marathon with absolutely no sporting expertise or experience.
So here is my little guide to running a marathon…
Good lord, I was rubbish at training! The furthest distance covered before marathon day was a pitiful 12 miles. Not even half the distance I needed. But if you don’t stress too much about it and just do what you can you’ll get round with some serious will power. The more stress free your training is, the more stress free your marathon. Factoid.
Pah! Anything that allows spaghetti bolognese in copious amounts is amazing. Eat healthily – lots of carbs in the build up and lots of water and fruit. Done. Again don’t stress, you’re only running a marathon.
Best tip I got was that in the final two weeks building up to the marathon was to eat lots of jaffa cakes and jelly babies as there’s some amazing complex-carbohydrate-thingy -whats-it that helps you burn energy as you run. Winning!
I know it’s important to wear the right kit and blah blah blah… but all that mattered to me was that I got pink shorts, pink sports bra and pink trainers. Done deal.
Pack your bag the night before. I failed to do so and spent the morning of crawling under my bed looking for my left trainer which I couldn’t find. Was a bit of an issue. I found it eventually… wedged behind the sofa.
When you get to the start point and sign in, dump your bag on the truck and have an hour or two to kill in a massive field it feels like a festival. Its exciting and there’s a stage with a DJ pumping out loud music to psyche you up.
But remember to bring something you don’t mind throwing away afterwards to sit on. I didn’t and sat on the grass covered in morning dew. Running the first two miles with a cold wet bottom is not highly recommended…
Make an enemy
This really was my initial motivation. I saw a really big scary polar bear walking around before hand and he freaked me out because he shouted “boo” at me from behind as I queued up for water before the race. I decided he was my mortal enemy and I WOULD BEAT HIM. I didn’t take my eye off him for the first mile or so making sure I was ahead. I lost him and have no idea whether I did beat him or not but I like to think I did.
Making friends as you run is uber important. You egg each other on and you have company to share the experience with. Also some form of inspiration helps, so my running buddies were two marines dressed as rhinos and a soldier carrying a fridge on his back. If they can all run 26.2 miles in hot costumes or with household appliances on their backs then so could I. They all supported me and the soldier even carried our water bottles in his fridge.
Plus, the marines both had really nice legs. Which was motivation in itself.
Keep on running
Just keep going. My biggest pride of the whole thing is that I didn’t walk once. I was allowed to slow jog when it got hard but I had to keep going. A mantra helps with this. Mine was:
“finish and you will get a cheese burger. with bacon. and fries.”
Soak it up!
The best thing about the marathon is there’s so much to look at. The crowds are amazing and will help you through. Special highlights included the pirate themed pub in Charlton at the start. A pub with drunken pirates singing sea shanties at you out the windows at 9.30 on a Sunday morning is dedication!
High five the passers by, look out for the men in fancy dress stopping for a loo break (seeing a Smurf relieving himself on the side of the road was mega hilarious) and just enjoy it!
Don’t watch the miles too closely, I lost track and thought I still had 4 miles to go. When I was informed by a supporter “YOU CAN DO IT! ONLY 2 MILES TO GO!!” I lost it. I ran and ran. Sprinted the whole final two miles! I don’t know where it came from. I sprinted past my wonderful family, past big ben and speeded up as I hit the mall. Ahead of me was Miss England, running with her personal trainer. I decided to take her out as a final spurt of energy propelled me past her roaring like Spartacus as I went (must have been a terrifying sight….!)
But remember to slow down as you get to the finish line. As I went over I was going so fast my photo finish only has my left trainer in it.
As I crossed the finishing line, and slowed down to a stop, wrapped foil around me and got my medal I was blubbing like a baby. The sense of achievement was overwhelming. I couldn’t believe that coming 3rd in the fancy dress fun race in year 4 at school was my biggest sporting achievement to date and now I was here. A marathon runner.
After the marathon I went straight to a pub and had a cider. Was the best cider I’d ever had and then I ate the best cheeseburger. With the best bacon. And the fries I’d ever had.
So there we go. It’s an emotional day for all and I have to say whilst watching I’m so envious I’m not running right now. Because even though I thought I was going to die at points, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.
And probably will.