London marathon. It had never really been on the plan for this year. However the charity I ran the Marathon des Sables for offered me and my brother in law a charity place. The diary already had Boston marathon and a 100 mile race 11 days apart. London marathon would be the week before Boston. It's not ideal preparation for the elite iconic marathon, and my longest non stop to date. Naturally I said yes.
Standing shoulder to shoulder with other runners, 36,000 of us in total, the sun was shining and if the starting line vibes were anything to go by, the day promised to be special. I made the decision to run a slower paced race along with my brother in law Rich, (his first ever marathon) and soak up the atmosphere. And WHAT a fantastic atmosphere! The glorious day and Mo Farah's presence had helped swell the supporters who lined every single part of the course.
The intense crowds was almost overwhelming at times, but it was truly infectious and every mile was like a street party.
I don't think Rich would mind me saying that he had not really done a huge amount of training. Virtually none. He was fit from bike riding and also had the main quality required in marathon running, determination. The first 16 miles we stuck to a nice 10 minute mile pace, being heartily cheered all the way. After mile 16, Rich started to get cramps. It was a sunny day so I had come armed with salt tabs. He took those and got through the next 4 miles. However at mile 20 he was in quite a lot of pain. He dug deep, the crowd where deafening in support and he somehow managed to keep his cramping legs moving. During the race we saw someone running with a fridge on their back, two people running as a two-humped camel, people in huge heavy rhino suits, and thousands of people running for charity and in memory of loved ones lost. I admire elite athlete a huge amount, those guys at the front pushing the boundaries of athletic endeavour, racing hard. However the respect I have for the 'normal' guys is vast. People pushing though pain, dehydration, sore feet, fatigue and digging very deep to make it to the finish line and the medal. Each with their own reason to finish. Rich was the epitome of this dogged determination and good spirit. We crossed the line in a very respectable 4.37.
London marathon brings out the best in people. The cheering crowds, the relentlessly spirited runners, the all round goodwill of volunteers. It was the most uplifting of races in a fabulous city.
Rich has got the bug, and now wants to do another marathon with a bit of training this time. Sensible. I'm thinking about Boston, now in a couple of days. Hoping to run that an hour quicker than London, giving the event the respect it deserves on what surely will be a momentous year for the race.
In other great news, I have been selected to be part of an all female ultra running team representing the North Face. We will be running a non stop 100k called Race to the Stones in July. It's all terribly exciting - you can meet my fabulous team members here: http://tnfultrateam.tumblr.com/post/83097264605/9-of-10-1-more-to-go-northfaceeu-ultra-team Check back here for a Boston Marathon blog and more on the North Face ultra team!