LONDON 2017…. You surely did not disappoint!
First off I will start by saying how well this race is organised. It honestly cannot be faulted. Anyone else who has ran London before, I’m sure will agree.
The atmosphere is electric and the support on the course is absolutely incredible. 40,000 runners and double the supporters. London was BUZZING on Sunday.
From the pre race communication, to the expo experience, all the way up to the start and also finish line – there is nothing else that compares. Coming from an Events Management background too, I notice the finer details 😉 and things that take a lot of effort to coordinate, that may not always be noticed by others.
I previously ran the London Marathon in 2014 in a time of 3 hours 54. It was my first Marathon & a truly special experience. One that I will never forget. My target was sub 4 hours and as I completed the training on my own as a complete novice, I was overjoyed with the outcome. London Marathon 2014 Experience Blog
If you have the incredible opportunity to do more than one, your first London Marathon, is always the most memorable. (I guess that’s if you have a good experience too!).
After the highs of 2014, I began training for 2015 with new goals in sight, but it all came crashing down with only 6 weeks to go, when I was hitting my peak in training. I raced the MK Festival of Running 20 miler, I completed the run, however, as soon as I stopped I could barely walk. I was in excruciating pain and my respectable 2 hour 57 time was completely redundant due to the agony I was in.
A few trips back and forth to physio and the hospital, I found out I had a stress fracture in my tibia and I had to withdraw. It was heartbreaking as training had been going so well up until this point.
In 2016 I decided to take a year off of Marathon training and set my sights on shorter distances. More highs and more injury woes and I found I was in and out of training constantly.
In 2017, I was fit and healthy again and my mindset had shifted. Injury free and ready to meet with London once again.
Running for Children with Cancer UK, my aim this time was to get around the course and finish injure free. No time frame in mind, no pressure. Only to enjoy the day as much as I had done before.
I wrote out my own training plan this year based on previous experience and knowledge I’ve gained over the years. I personalised it to fit in with my training level and also my busy lifestyle. A new Personal Training Business and Event Freelancing was taking up a fair bit of my time. I knew I needed to find a balance between work, training and my own social life.
I must admit I had a pretty good training journey. I was running 3 – 4 times a week as that was all my schedule would allow me to do, plus trying to fit in one strength and core session, one yoga session a week and stretching whenever I could.
A few bad runs here and there but nothing major. A very tight calf at one point for a few weeks, but nothing which stopped me in my tracks.
I had a small blip in my training when I went through a stressful period in my Personal Life and it’s pretty strange how much emotional stress can play on the body. I remember one run in particular. I almost broke down 15 miles in to a long Sunday run, due to the build up of stress and my body beginning to tire. I was ill for about 2 days after, which I blamed on dehydration and incorrect fueling. Looking back, it was the emotional stress on my body which led me to feel like this. In the subsequent weeks, my legs were heavy, runs were mentally tough and some of the runs I was having to fit into my schedule were some of the hardest I experienced, although some were only 4 miles long.
The turning point was at Oakley 20. 3 weeks out from London, I knew I had to regain focus.
I had a great run and finished in 2 hours and 53 minutes. My theory was that if I could finish 20 miles in London in 2 hours 50 on a much flatter course, then I would have 55 minutes to play with for the final 10K to reach my target of sub 3 hours 45.
I smashed Oakley and then the Taper began! I was climbing the walls to get out and run but had a really good few weeks. Training runs felt comfortable and my pace was steady and relaxed. I held back knowing the recovery time would benefit me in the long run.
I documented my final few weeks in the build up via Vlogs on my YouTube channel if you want to check any of these out: CLEAN COACH KATIE YOUTUBE
In the week leading up to London I was worried that I wasn’t worried! I was panicking because I wasn’t panicking!!!! I was expecting something to go wrong as everything was going so right. Weird I know, but it’s funny the mind games that happened during this time.
Over the final few days leading up to the 23rd, I made sure my nutrition was locked down and was staying well hydrated, allowing my body to hit it’s peak ready for the run of my life.
The day before the race I headed down to London as my grandparents live in London and I was able to stay with them the night prior. No rushing about in the morning of the race, no panic, no stress and a comfortable environment to be in for the final few hours.
As a treat to my Grandparents, we bought them tickets to watch the Lion King on the Saturday. AMAZING!
Before we headed out for the matinee showing. I prepared my kit, stuck my number to my Charity vest and chip to my shoe.
It was good to be sitting down for most of the day, without worrying too much about the marathon. We then went for dinner at Sophie’s Steakhouse which was just around the corner from the Lyceum Theatre.
Bread and Hummus to start, followed by grilled chicken, sweet potato and spinach for my main. I’m not a big pasta person, but ensured I was well ‘carbed up’. I avoided dessert, went for a decaf coffee, wanting a good nights rest before the BIG DAY.
We headed home for an early night. I got myself into bed, read over the final race instructions and made final plans with friends to meet up at the start line.
I woke up earlier than my alarm (shock horror) and begun to get ready. I felt as if I was rushing about which was making me nervous, so I kept my cool, slowed down and my Uncle gave me a lift to Charing Cross to get the DLR over to Blackheath.
Here I met Izi and her boyfriend Rory and we walked over to meet with some of the other Redway Runners for final good lucks!
Izi and I then went over to the Red Start, had 2 nervous wees, dumped our bags on the truck and had no luck with meeting up with anyone else we had planned to! Signal was terrible in the pens, so a note to people for next time. If you plan to meet up with someone, do so before you enter!!
Izi and I weren’t in the same starting pens so we hugged each other good luck and said our final goodbyes. We both made our way into our pens and I joined the thousands of other runners. I could feel the nerves, excitement and buzz. IT WAS STARTING TO HIT HOME FAIRLY QUICKLY.
I must admit, at this point I didn’t know what emotions to feel. I had the advantage of knowing what to expect, but didn’t know what to expect of myself.
I had the Lucozade pace band on my wrist which I picked up at the Expo and began to visualise each mile ahead of me. Friends and family had also told me where they would be on the course so I knew when to look out for them and when to focus.
It took around 8 minutes to cross the start line and we were off! GAME FACE ON.
At the last minute (decision being made the day before) I had chosen to run with my phone for music. In the first mile I was fiddling about with my gels and phone in my various pockets, trying to find a suitable position for all of the things in my pockets. I fell into my stride and found myself weaving through the crowds, trying not to go off too quick.
Mile 3 came about very quickly and the green and blue starts merged with the red. The course was very busy by this point and I battled to keep my own space. It can get frustrating when you’re trying to stick with your plan and there are a lot of runners around you. I tried not to let this phase me and carried on with the run.
The next few miles passed by and I was close to Cutty Sark. I was expecting to see some friends around this point, but unfortunately I missed them! They did see me apparently but there was a lot of noise around this area. I tried to regain focus and not to worry too much on spotting people I knew, but focusing on the race ahead.
A few minutes later and from the left hand side I heard my name. Spotted James and Spencer, the first familiar faces on the course! A picture popped up on my phone not long after this. A bottle of prosecco for the finish. I pushed on knowing this would be waiting for me at the end.
10K passed and I was spot on with my pacing.
As I reached mile 12 I was still feeling great and knew the iconic Tower Bridge was soon to come. I was gutted I had not seen anyone else yet along the course and a chap by the side of me was on the phone to someone he knew, planning out where they were on the course to see each other.
I had to do the same, and made a call to my best friend Lynn, finding out where she would be on the course. As I had my headphones in, it was simple to make the call and just looked I was talking to myself! She was in shock that I was running and calling her, but I felt good and easily chatted away. Training obviously paying off. She let me know they were opposite the 35km sign on the other side of the road so I locked this in, knowing where they would be.
Tower Bridge was epic, the roar of the crowds is unreal and having the chance to run over such a beautiful landmark in London really is a highlight.
I passed half way and knew I would see some friendly faces soon.
13.1 miles in 1 hour 51 and on track for around 3 hours 42/43 if I kept up this pace. I knew it would be tough but I still felt comfortable.
A little after this I spotted my parents right at the front of the barriers, I ran over gave them both a sweaty kiss and carried on running.
Half a mile later I spotted Lynn, Luke and Bekki, gave them a huge wave and high fived Bekki continuing along the course quite swiftly. No stopping!
I got goosebumps and it gave me the boost I needed. Smile still on my face, I carried on.
Mile 15 passed and James spotted me once again. A message soon followed to say that I looked relaxed and to keep focused. I did exactly that and carried on. Feeling positive with my race so far.
Robin from the club spotted me at around mile 17/18 and another friendly face gave me another pick me up.
Mile 18 passed and the buzz of Canary Wharf. My legs began to feel the effects of the run.
I crossed Mile 20 at around 2 hours 51, pretty much bang on target.
Someone had said to me once that the race starts at Mile 20 and boy were they right.
THIS IS WHEN THE RACE REALLY BEGAN.
I knew I would have to give it everything I had in the final 10K.
Mile 21 came around and my parents were on the opposite side of the road to Mile 14, joined by my brother and his girlfriend Georgi. Another kick of adrenaline and my pace picked up.
The 35km point was in sight and I knew my friends would be there once again. I continued to dig in, and in the distance I could see Lynn still on Luke’s shoulders. They had been joined by Lynn’s Mum, and my best friends parents, Kim, Vanda and little sister Ella plus a few more people.
The pictures Lynn managed to get of me tell a very different story. These smiles do not reflect how I was feeling!
Another rush and 4 miles to go.
Throughout the run I had only kept one headphone in one ear, wanting to soak up the atmosphere as much as possible. However, now, it was serious business.
Both headphones in, music turned up to the max and digging in to finish the race.
I told myself I had one opportunity here and all of the months of hard work boiled down to these final few miles. I did not want to let this slip right at the end.
Mile by mile, I was creeping up towards the finish line, constantly clocking my watch to keep an eye on the time.
I saw the ‘1000m to go’ sign and really pushed hard to not let my pace slow too much. My legs were extremely heavy by this point but I really fought hard.
I was over 3 hours 40 something and I knew sub 3:45 was most likely on the cards.
I turned the corner and I could see the end! 3 hours 43 on the watch and I pushed my way up the Mall.
A few metres from the end I raised my hands in the air. I HAD DONE IT!!!!!
3 hours 44 minutes and 29 seconds. I almost cried with happiness.
I collected my medal with pride and pulled out my phone. The accuracy of the tracker meant people knew before I did what my finish time was. Floods of messages coming through wishing me well done and what a great run I had had.
I carried on walking as I feared if I would sit down I would not be able to get back up.
I retrieved my bag from the luggage truck and made my way to meet James waiting with my bottle of Prosecco.
As I was walking I will never forget what one of the guys volunteering on one of the luggage trucks said to me; ‘You look like you’ve only just run a ParkRun love, not a Marathon’.
I can tell you, I DEFINITELY felt the effects of a Marathon, but pleased with how fresh I must have looked.
After months of no drinking, I was presented with my worthy bottle of Prosecco and actually couldn’t think of doing anything but drinking that. HA, typical!!! It was the thought that counts 😉
I met up with my Nan and Uncle at the Children with Cancer meeting point and then headed to the pub to meet with all of my friends and other runners from the club.
It hadn’t sunk in by this point how well the run had gone. On paper it could have not gone any better for me.
After some water and a face wipe to get rid of all the sweat I was ready for Prosecco. 2 sips in and the bubbles went straight to my head. We celebrated for a few hours, reliving my run with my friends and family before heading out for dinner to Joe Allen’s in Covent Garden.
All I wanted was a Burger and a Chocolate Brownie and that was exactly what I got! YUM.
After a lovely meal with my family, we headed home to MK before a few more drinks at the pub. I wasn’t ready to stop the celebrations yet.
A little before midnight I was at home and in bed, medal still proudly round my neck.
WHAT A DAY!
On Monday I enjoyed a relaxing day off, experiencing a fair amount of DOMS but that was expected. It’s now Thursday and I’m already planning my next run. Nothing in the MK Marathon series this weekend, but potentially a ParkRun Saturday to get the legs moving and blood flowing again.
And if you’re wondering what I plan to take on next, a vlog is coming very soon with what I have lined up for the future….
Still time to sponsor me on Virgin Money Just Giving and I’m over my £2,000 target which is incredible: Sponsorship Link
Thank you to everyone who has donated so far or came along to the Charity Evening back in February!
Here’s the link for a short 3 minute video to some up Sunday 23rd April.
Thanks for reading!