Running: London Marathon

Hello Friends,

Back in 2014 I left this comment on a photo posted to fb, just days after running NYC2014: For the first time ever I teared up at the end. The conditions were tough, I was so happy with my run, and knew this was my last 26.2... but seeing blind runners and a 89 year old on the course inspires me to never say never. I would love to run London.(click to read my NYC 26.2 recap).
-  I didn't realize it at the time but I was adding London to my bucket list.   
-  Last April I entered the lottery - which was open to International runners for the first time.  Seasons change, Spring to Summer, Summer to Fall.  At the end of October I received a number.    
-  Last weekend I ran the London Marathon!  

My last long run was a half marathon in May 2015 so I started training in December, to build up my endurance.
  • I joined a marathon training club that provided a training plan, and a virtual community for support/accountability (Another Mother Runner).   
  • London Marathon provided me access to a personal coach to customize a plan that worked for me. Living in a VERY hilly area, running 3x/week is best for me.   
  • Time trials: I provided a few to my coach, running 10:30-11MM on the hilly trails resulted in 8:50MM at the track.  I was running 8:06MM 10K's (gulp.. too fast)
When my coach told me they predicted a 4:03 finish for me I started to get nervous.  I didn't want to run three minutes over BQ, the pressure... and I meant it when I said this is my last marathon.  I wanted to take a few photos if the opportunity arose.  I'm in London!

NYC to London:
We traveled to London a week before the race, mostly to acclimate to the +5 timezone. The World Traveler was on business, which meant we moved hotels daily for five days(!) before settling in to a lovely hotel half a mile from Buckingham Palace (the finish line).

About ten days before leaving life got messy with work stress and unplanned home repairs.  I was a bit stressed when we traveled to London.

On day two of our visit, the World Traveler had an event in Birmingham (a two hour train ride north of the city).  While he was in meetings, I found a quiet place to retreat.  The photo below is from my last 5K run, on a dirt road leading to a farm.  JOY!

Race Day Highlights:
The marathon starts at 10AM, in Greenwich.  I left the hotel at 8:30, walking to Victoria Station and riding three trains to walk 10-15 minutes.  I'm finally at the the start, with 10 minutes to spare.  This was planned perfectly.  The weather was very cold and I didn't want to expend energy shivering.

I'm in the 4:15 pace group, which crossed the start line at 10:13... we are off and running!
  • SO many runners.  The course never thinned out which made for an interesting run at times.  There was a guy near me, running with a flag that kept hitting me in the face.  When I would move, he would magically reappear! I had my heels stepped on a few times, and received many elbows 'face to chest' by men determined to run next to our pacer.  ps: it's okay to run 50 feet behind a pacer at mile 15, just don't let the gap widen too much.
  • Drums!  One of my favorite moments was hearing and feeling the drums as I approached a band.  I will never forget running past one group, as we turned a corned and ran under a small bridge... thunderous drum beats.  It was moving!
  • London has the best spectators!  Constant cheering, noise, song, music, chanting, all of it was amazing
  • Sightseeing.  I ran 26 miles in London! From Greenwich to the Pirates ship, over the London Bridge, and more.  It was impressive and kept me running engaged in the run.
  • Water... there were SO many water stops that runners never feared dehydration.  I ran with a handheld 20 oz and filled it 3-4 times along the course.  
Reflection on my Run:
It's important to note that I walked for about five minutes during the 2014 NYC Marathon while crossing a bridge around mile 20-21... I finished NYC with a time of 4:32. A regret turned into a goal for London.
  • My only goal was to NEVER WALK.  If not dealing with an injury, walking tends to be the result of physical/mental exhaustion.  Walking only slows you down...
  • I slammed a Salted Carmel GU every four miles.  I wasn't focused on the total distance, rather on a four mile countdown, not walking, light feet and imaging crossing the finish. 
  • I stayed with the 4:15 pacer until mile 21-22.  The road was narrow and congested with runners, water everywhere... lot's of distractions.  I also didn't see a time after this point and didn't realize I fell behind a bit.  
  • Music: I had the best playlist!   I was so engrossed in the music
  • Weather: The forecast was 64F when we packed, a week before the run.  The start was 38F with a chance for rain.  I ended up wearing yoga pants, three layers on top, mittens, and a hat.  I took the mittens and hat off around mile three but was never warm.
  • Finish: About a half mile before the finish I was two runners holding up a runner.  I heard someone say, over to the left.  The runner looked like he just summited Kilimanjaro and I was sure medical was taking care of him.  I kept running.  Running past Buckingham Palace and crossing the finish line at 4:20.  
  • When I looked at my GPS, the distance read 27.1M.  Several others had the same experience.  While odd for the run to log so much longer but it's not important. 
Now I'm recovering, planning my summer fitness.  Running, walking, weights, and yoga will be my focus. :)

I will write a separate post on London but wanted to share this before life gets in the way and I forget the small moments. I will never forget the drums.

With gratitude and love, Mari