I have now joined the 26.2 mile club by running my first ever marathon. The London marathon is unlike any race I have ever experienced. The sheer scale of the event; the number of runners, the crowds and the atmosphere of the day were electric. I was lucky enough to secure my place via the ballot and managed to have a day i’ll never forget.
I was lucky enough to have a support team with me for the weekend. We set off the day before to ensure rest and relaxation before the marathon.
I managed to get a decent nights sleep before the marathon and didn’t have too many problems waking up early to my delicious rice pudding breakfast! It was a calm morning and I managed to hold my nerves together on the journey over to the start.
The blue start was great. I met up with a friend and it was a very relaxed atmosphere. I managed to keep my nerves in tact and focused on enjoying this new experience. It was a chilly start to the day so we went over to our separate pens early to get snuggled between all the bodies. The start was pretty emotional.
Whilst you’re waiting, you chat to those around you and I quickly discovered everyone there has either lost someone special or was fighting their own battle. It made it incredibly hard to keep the tears at bay.
It took me about 10 minutes to get over the start line, but when I did, I couldn’t help but smile and remember why I was here.
The first 10 miles
The first 10 miles felt incredible. It was really hard to keep my pace down. I was aiming for between 10:00 – 10:30 minute miles but there was so much going on, it was impossible to take notice of my watch. When I did glance down, I had to remind myself to slow my pace as this was just the beginning. I had a massive smile on my face and just thought “this is the most amazing experience”. We joined the Red and Green starts after a while and it felt great merging with all the other runners and seeing the lengths people had gone too to raise money and awareness for their causes.
The atmosphere is difficult to explain but it is incredible. All of those spectators who were out to cheer us all on were heroes. Without them, it just wouldn’t be the same.
I was lucky enough to see my support team 3 times. 26.2 miles is a long way and you need to break it down into easy chunks. Mine consisted of fuel, water and hug stops.
The tough miles
I had a dark moment at around 18 – 20 miles but I knew that I was going to see my friends and family and that kept me going. I almost missed them but spotted them at the last minute and ran back to go get some hugs and kisses (and shed a few tears). I had lots of energy but my muscles were screaming and felt tired; keeping my pace was hard. Everything was hurting and there was no way I could break down the additional 6.2 miles into an easy-feeling distance. My brain just wasn’t buying any of it.
The last 5 miles
As soon as I hit mile 21, my pace slowed down. I was trying to break the final miles into easy chunks but I couldn’t find any way to convince my legs that the distance was fine. Instead, I just kept my legs moving. It didn’t matter how slow, I just didn’t want to walk it.
The last 5 miles were hard going. It is a fairly long stretch but the amount of people are overwhelming. There isn’t a clear space or quiet moment. Everyone is cheering you on. I knew that I couldn’t stop, I just had to keep going, regardless if it was a crawl. Every couple of minutes someone would shout “Keep going Emily” or “Emily – you’re doing an amazing job. Go, go go!” and this stopped me from slowing to a walk.
I also thought about my dad and the pain he had been in for so long. If he could keep smiling whilst he was unwell, then I could get through the next 6 miles of discomfort. At mile 24, I even managed to up my pace by a minute.
800 meters to go
Getting to Birdcage Walk and seeing that 800m sign is a wonderful feeling. I tried, but had no muscle strength left to up my pace. It didn’t matter though. I saw my friends and family one last time and then just pushed through. People were so broken at this point that they were forced to walk the last stretch but I was determine not to give in. I had to run until the very end.
Before you know it, you can see Buckingham Palace and the finish line is just around the corner. In the true spirit of the marathon, I had my hand in hand moment with a stranger and crossed the finish line. I heard on the tannoy that Chris Evans was just behind me, so I had to finish in front of him.
When I finished, I didn’t feel too bad. I was able to walk for a good 40 minutes to find my group and get some food. Stairs were not too bad and it was only my knees and dodgy calf that was hurting.
The processing part didn’t take too long. Everyone was super helpful and I got my medal and goodie bag quickly and went off to find my family. Seeing them all afterwards was amazing and my mum got me a card and some champagne as a reward. I got to have a nice meal and post-race beer with everyone before heading home. The only thing was missing was the call to my dad, to tell him all about it and hear his voice. I still miss my dad massive amounts but being able to give something back to the hospice helps to ease the pain. We raised £1,383.50 in total.
A massive thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout this marathon journey. Your words, donations, advice and training got me through those final miles.
This was an incredible experience for me. It was the first time I have ever run this distance. I didn’t quite hit the 4h:30m I was hoping for but it didn’t really feel like time was important on this event. I learn’t that my training and fuelling had all paid off. My energy levels were absolutely fine throughout, it was just my muscles that gave in. This is easily something I can look to improve. I probably won’t sign up for another marathon straight away but it is certainly something I would like to do again in the near future and be stronger for.
More photos from the day
Thanks to Mum and Chris for taking snaps on the day.