Running the London Marathon

After many years trying to get in, and many more years watching on TV, I finally got a club ballot place for the 2018 London marathon.

Head down and I started training January 2018. Things were going really well following a 10k PB at Percy Pud in December 2017. This was followed up with a great training block of long runs, intervals and tempo runs that helped me get PBs at 5k, 5 miles and half marathon. I thought I was finally on for a good marathon time. 

But, I started to feel a pain in my lower back. Like most runners, I ignored it and carried on. Following a 5 mile race in February I couldn’t ignore it anymore, as I couldn’t walk after finishing the 5 miler. This lead to numerous visits to physios to try and get a quick fix. It didn’t happen.

Gutted doesn’t sum up how I felt. I not only had to miss pacing at the Sheffield half but I had to pull out of the London marathon. Luckily they do let people defer for 1 year, so that is what I did.

Roll on to December 2018.

I decided that my main goal now was to get to the start of London and finish it.

Once again I ran the Percy Pud, no PB but pleased with my performance, and it was nearly pain free.

Percy Pub 10k 2018

Now I just had to get through the next 5 months without injury, not easy given my injury history. After getting advice from physios, and having a word with myself I decided to cut all speed work out and just concentrate on the easy runs and getting longer runs in. 

This seemed to be working, along with regular trips to a physio to stop my injuries coming back. 

The easy runs were working. I matched my 5K PB, got into the Northern and National relays teams for my club and had a great day pacing the Sheffield half. Now it was getting close to London and I had to keep reminding myself about my main goal, get to the start line.

I did.

Pacing for the Sheffield Half Marathon 2018

Up at 6:30am Sunday morning, do what I needed to do, and travel to the starting area. The travel was a bit of a concern but a trip on a DLR, tube and train went really smoothly and I arrived at the blue start in good time. There was a bit of a music festival feel so I just had a lie down and enjoyed the atmosphere.

London Marathon number

Into the the start pens and off we went.

The first few miles flew by. I was quite overwhelmed by the amount of people lining the streets to cheer on people they would never meet. I made it my mission to high 5 as many as I could and really enjoyed it. Only looking at my pace a few times, finding I was going a bit quicker than I thought, even though it felt easy I decided to slow a little, but still on target for a good finish time, for me. The crowds kept on getting bigger with Surrey Quays standing out for me. I heard the noise at the Cutty Sark before I got there and again the crowds were fantastic. On to Tower bridge and it didn’t disappoint, great noise and views. Hit half way all going really well, then mile 14, turn a corner and oww. My right hamstring gave me a short shooting pain, and didn’t go away (and still hasn’t a few days later). I knew my partner and daughter would be at mile 18 so I just slowed down a little and ran on. Mile 17 and I got a stitch, knowing they would be there soon I had to carry on and look like I was ok. 

After a quick stop, hug and kiss at mile 18 I continued with the pain in my leg and the stitch. It was getting hard to breathe properly now and my head was starting to get filled with negative thoughts. 

I decided to get to 20 miles and see how it was. It wasn’t much better. I continued to slow down and had to remind myself of the main reason I was doing this, for the experience and not for a time.

From then on it turned into a run walk. I was ok with this as I just took in the atmosphere, continued to high 5 as many as I could and eat some of the food on offer. At about mile 22 there was a man on the floor in a bad way, getting help from the St Johns with a defibrillator. This again reminded me why I was doing it and to just enjoy it as much as possible.

Mile 24, my right leg just stiffened up with cramp, quick stretch and off I went again.

On to the finish. The noise continued right to the end. 

It was a bit surreal to be finishing on the Mall after seeing and thinking about it for many years. 

I crossed the line with mixed emotions, but I was mostly disappointed in myself for not doing myself justice in another marathon. After doing the distance or over 20+ times you’d think I’d be ok at it now. 

I met my partner and daughter and set off back to the hotel, where I only vomited once which is good for me, and onto the journey home.

Now it’s a few days later and looking back at the day, it was truly amazing.

The crowds, support and the organisation was brilliant. I wouldn’t want to change any of that. As for my performance, I‘m ok with it now. My main aim was to get there and finish it and I did it. Will I do another marathon? Yes I am. Would I do London again? I’m already in the ballot for next year. Would I train differently next time? Possibly yes, but I’ll be trying to stay uninjured and listen to my body. Will I finally get a time that I am happy with?………………….

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Life’s complicated,
run through it!

© Matt Rimmer 2020