Monday, 18 April 2011

Virgin London Marathon 2011

Wow what a weekend

I don't think I went into this under prepared.  Did the training, did the taper, and had a canny night's sleep before the big day, but hey ho - things don't always turn out the way you want them to.

Started off travelling down at 6am on the Saturday morning, with a clear run down the A1(M) and M11 to the Excel centre, which was surprisingly quiet and easy to snaffle my number and head on back out of the city to our friends in Essex where we were kindly being put up for the night.  Up bright and breezy on the morning of the race and hoping to get dropped off nearish the start.  Our plans were somewhat scuppered by the Blackwall Tunnel being closed, so Andy dropped me off at the nearest DLR station and I met a lovely couple from Oldham (Hi Louise & Andy!) who got me to the start.

I have to say - throughout the whole day the organisation was fantastic - the start is really well done, loads of loos, easy to sort out baggage buses and easy to get into pens, plus an army of folks willing to help you out if you weren't sure about what or where you were going

 Louise from Oldham (hope you had a good run)
 Just into the Blue starting area
 Team Jarrow - Barry, Me, and Peter

Me & Jill

Once we were off it was really hard to get any kind of steady pace going, as there were several hold ups where everyone ground to a halt, which lead to the first two miles being done in 19 minutes, but the pace picked up a little and I went through 5k in 27:53 which wasn't much over my target time.  Unfortunately the sun was starting to split the clouds, and by the 6 mile mark it was blazing down on us.

Despite the heat I kept trundling along at an even pace, going through 10k in 54:49, which was just perfect.  I had put on factor 50 sunblock, but I was drinking water then tipping the rest over myself to try and cool down a bit, and I must have washed it off, cause I really started to burn on my shoulders.  As I went through the 10 mile mark in 1:31 I thought I was spot on my target time from the runs I had done in training, and just hoped to keep going at the same pace.

It just seemed to get warmer and warmer though, and as I went through halfway in 2:00 hours I could feel myself slowing down.  At mile 17 I felt a pain in my hip, and it made it practically impossible to keep running properly, so I dropped my pace and hoped to jog the rest of the course, I knew I still had 9 miles to go, and people were starting to drop like flies with the heat, so the aim was to just try my best to keep moving and hydrated.  By mile 22 I'd slowed to a shuffle and was passed by a para carrying a 60lb pack - hats off to him - he'd run for a couple of hundred yards then power walk for a bit, then start again - inspiring stuff.

I also saw Sophie Raworth being attended too by the side of the road - I have to say the first aid coverage was second to none - world class service and organisation.  Jill Stocks practically leapt out of the crowd as I got to 22 miles too - what a sight for sore eyes, I tried to shuffle on some more, but now it was all about surviving to the finish.  As I crossed the 25 mile mark I stopped to limp on again and a wonderful man from the crowd shouted "You've done all the hard work and you're almost there" then he shouted at the crowd "come on give her a cheer" and they did....I was overwhelmed with emotion and burst into tears, and then I started jogging again.  The crowds were bloody amazing.

As we turned onto Birdcage walk I had to do just that and walk again.  I saw the 800m to go sign ahead, but it seemed like a mile away.  A runner stopped to walk with me and support me down the road, and then a policeman patted me on the shoulder and said "not long now love".  It was just the thing to get be back to a shuffle again and along that last 800m which felt like ten million miles.

What a relief it is to turn into the Mall and see the finish.  I heard someone shouting my name, but I couldn't see them (later found out it was Craig - Thanks matey!) and I sort of hobbled/limped down that last 300m like a champion!

I did it in 4:31:58, with the last 2k taking me 20 minutes, but it's done, I got my medal, marvelled at the organisation at the finish which had the lad on the baggage bus handing me my bag as I walked up to him, but I was physically and mentally knackered, and still had to get myself from the finish to Redbridge at the bottom of the M11 where Andy was picking me up.

Four tube changes later (it could prolly have been less if I knew where I was going) I made it, and the journey just continued the fantastic nature of the event - with the tube being free for runners!  There were folks congratulating me left right and centre - who says the city folks aren't friendly - it's not true.  I managed to clamber up the station steps like a robot, and there waiting was the love of my life :D

And he bought me doughnuts...

What a day

I don't think I'll ever repeat it, but for anyone wanting to give it a go I'd say Yes - Do It, it's a cracking race.  I'd have done better without the heat for sure, but I could have had my hip injury on any day of the year.  I'm walking like C3PO at the mo, but there are a whole bunch of folks out there with the same medal, doing exactly the same thing.

Happy running folks!


  1. Mick Stringfellow18 April 2011 at 12:54

    Reading that brought tears to my eyes! The support sounds amazing.
    You did fantastic.
    Well done.
    Drink plenty of WD-40 and you'll be back to normal in no time. :)

  2. Bloomin' great read Vicki - you did fantastically well to keep going like that. Well done!!

  3. Fantastic race report Vicki. I have to agree that the organisation is spot on and the crowd support is second to none (I hate to say it but possibly even better than the GNR).
    I hope you're legs and hip are recovering.

  4. Well done Vicki - what a trouper! I struggled, and I wasn't even hampered by anything major injury-wise, so I can imagine how mentally and physically tough it must've been for you.

    I agree - the organization and crowd support is just amazing - I just wasn't expecting it to be as awesome as it was! I'd recommend London to anyone, it's an incredible experience.

  5. It is a shame that awesome is an overused word, because when it really does apply, it doesn't have the impact it should. Truly impressive stuff, Vicki.

  6. What a brilliant account of the day! I was spectating at mile 17 and cannot believe how people were able to keep running in the heat. Truely inspirational and a fantastic read. Thank you for sharing and huge congratulations on completeing the course!

  7. Loved the report Vicki,youve done amazing.The report just sums the London Marathon up,Brilliant.

  8. Well done!
    This sounds so similar to my race. I think the heat made a big difference to a lot of people, but hey, at least we finished!