Incase you missed me telling anyone who would listen… I ran the London marathon on Sunday. It was my first world major, and happened to be the hottest London marathon on record, so to be able to say I finished is a massive achievement. In the end it took me 4hrs and 7mins or there abouts to cross the finish line, and although its a considerable chunk of time slower than I wanted to be I don’t regret taking my time at all, and I am sure you are all dying to know if my trainers held up… they did! And to be honest they were the LEAST of my worries on Sunday.
Despite the time it took me and the horrendously hot conditions I actually had a lovely run, and its true what they say about the supporters making London what it is because without them I wouldn’t have been able to finish. From the lady handing out ice-pops at mile 5 and the spectator who went in his bag to hand me a bottle of iced-water when I had accidentally dropped my own to the people who were shouting and cheering the whole way, those guys made the run possible.
Since Sunday lots of people have said to me that they would love to do the marathon “one day”. To those people I say just do it! The training is long and difficult (and in some cases very, very cold!) but as long as you can commit to a couple of hours a week for a long slow run then absolutely anybody can run/walk/jog a marathon. I have always known this, but the conditions in London this weekend really proved that to me. Its not about how fast you can go its about keeping yourself moving and getting over that line. So to the 2hr finishers to the 8hr finishers CONGRATULATIONS, you all have my upmost respect!!!
So what did I learn from this weekends run?
1. Having your name on your shirt can be both a help and a hindrance. I chose not to have my name on my shirt (because I hadnt decided on my outfit until the last minute), and there were times when I was struggling and I thought it would have helped to have people shouting my name. In Barcelona last year my name was on my number and I really found it was a huge boost hearing “Vamoose Stephanie” at regular intervals, but there were also times this weekend when I wanted to tell people to just leave the poor participants alone and let them walk!!
2. Energy drinks make you thirstier, and don’t really help on a hot day. I usually partake in a gatorade or two when I am running, but this weekend the Lucozade stations really were a nightmare because they were there in place of water stations, and believe me when I say that we all needed water!
3. Respecting the conditions is key. I saw so many people passing out or falling down at the side of the road, and every time I did I slowed down just a little bit more. This weekend I walked more than I have ever had to walk in a race, and I am not ashamed of that in the slightest. There are always other marathons to try for a better time… you just have to get to the end of this one first!
4. Don’t underestimate the power of a tempo run. I had missed my tempo runs due to my triathlon and weight training, and its not something I would recommend for anyone hoping to get in a certain time. I am sure that I would still have been a lot slower that the 3:30 I really wanted this weekend even if I had put in the faster runs, but I think they would have helped me keep my speed up a little bit more!
5. Runners are the best! On Sunday I saw people handing out suncream, sharing water, linking arms with struggling participants, and just generally being there to help each other. The running community really comes together at events like this and everyone is there to support each other.