Monday, April 14, 2008

2008 Flora London Marathon

04:51:27 was not quite the 4:45 I had targeted, still under 5 hrs, and I honestly feel like I gave it my all. Mary and Graham gave me the benefit of their experience at the Expo, but didn't tell me how hard it would be!

The marathon started out great above Greenwich, sunny and happy with kids lining the streets wanting us to touch their hands, bands playing - it felt like a Carnival. I wished I had made an effort with a costume, but not the heavy dog one guide dogs offered! I ran too fast and did not take walk breaks in this first section, it just felt so easy and fun. I realised I was way ahead of schedule and needed to make a bathroom stop - but the queue was horrible, so I lost any advantage. Then again, I really did not have much choice - it must have been the excitement and Lucozade I drank before the start, but fortunately that was my last bio break.

And I learned another marathon fact - the ambulance people who are holding out their hands, are not looking to shake yours - they have Vaseline on their hands! (for chaffing I guess). I inadvertently got a handful I had to try to get rid of - Yeach! And the first Lucozade stop was an unexpected experience - my shoes stuck to the ground!

Then the rain hit about mile 10 and the people lining the streets looked a bit grim, just trying to pick out their loved ones. I really felt sorry for the runners who didn't have a jacket! I saw one guy in a g-string with a chain around his neck that looked miserable! Fortunately, I had tied a light jumper around my waist - but I almost didn't (for fashion reasons!) because it was so nice at the start. I started walking through some of the water stops about this time, but I was surprised how few people were taking walk breaks. My frugal nature did not help me either - I really struggled to throw the bottle of water away after a few sips. So I carried one bottle through 3 water stops until I decided that was just a stupid waste of energy. But such a waste of all those plastic bottles!

I tried to text Billy to check where he was while I was running and I dropped the phone - ARG! People were remarkably nice as I took a dive for the phone in their path! After the sun came back out , I spotted my husband and daughter, which perked me up and they were able to open up the packets of shot blocks I carried that I couldn't open because my hands were too cold, and help me mix up Hammer "Sustained Energy" to avoid Lucozade. Shortly afterwards I had to give up on using my Garmin for pacing as the GPS signal was lost in the tall buildings of Canary Wharf, so I just ran on and on, not knowing how fast. Strange limbo feeling - I checked my pace on my Nike+ a couple of times, and it was about 11:00 or so, but I always struggle with calibration so I don't really trust it.

Then somewhere out in the endless Isle of Dogs the rain and hail came back. Putting on that wet jumper was not pleasant, but I wasn't as frozen as most of the runners in just little vests and shorts. The headwind wind and hail were brutal!

High points were the cheers across Tower Bridge which were deafening and coming up from the underpass under the Embankment was great, with the London Eye and Big Ben in view. I never felt like I "hit the wall", but those 2 last miles seemed to take forever. I really did not want to run anymore, but knew that the only way to stop was to finish, so I just put my head down and pushed ahead, but it was tough going, weaving through all the runners who were now walking.

I was so relieved to finish, but no one warned me how painful it is when you stop running!! I was so glad to see Billy when I got out of the secure area and he'd found a friend who offered us a ride home in their car. Bliss. I felt so sad for people who finished without anyone to greet them who had to struggle home on trains. I didn't have dry socks or a dry shirt in my bag (idiot!) but my down parka felt great.

It was great to be part of such a big event and the fanfare even if running a marathon was a lot harder than I had anticipated. I'll stick to nice fun half marathons in the future, and buy stock in ibuprofen. Never again, but I guess I said that about childbirth too.

I looked at my Garmin split times and they are junk, because of the poor reception, but the 5k splits from the chip times show the following pace 09:56, 12:16, 10:47, 10:35, 11:25, 11:22, 11:25 and 11:05. First too fast, then too slow with bio break, then slowing in the hail and rain and finally settling in to an 11 min pace for the end.

What an experience!


Anonymous said...

Wow Drusy,

Great job on completing your marathon. I run my first one next month (Newport, OR) and appreciate your perspective. The London sounded pretty cold but you persevered. Enjoy your rest and the ibuprofen.

Tim Cook

SLB said...

Drusy, great run and great report. It sounds like weather was a real contrast to last year, wind and rain do not a fun time make!

Sorry to hear that the technology let you down...but hey doesn't always at the crucial moment!

Congratulations for completing the distance, you are now in the 1% of 1% club.

Happy recoveries.

Petraruns said...

What a fabulous effort! One more marathon tip to give you though - don't queue for the loos.. I always go between cars..

What a race and what a report! Well done and see you at a half soon!

ShirleyPerly said...

CONGRATS Drusy!! Great job on your first marathon, especially in that rain. In a week or so don't be surprised if you're thinking of doing another one :-)

Ovens2Betsy said...

Yea! You're no longer a marathon virgin. No matter how much you hear about running a marathon, there'll still be surprises when you actually run one!

babciaruns said...

Well Done T! You did great and OOps forgot to tell you of the hurt when you stop! So which one is next?

Great to have met you!


Linnie said...

Sis... turly awesome! Congratulations on finishing well! So, what's next?

Love ya!

peter said...

Great first marathon, Drusy. Tough too, with rain and hail pelting you! But Shirley has it right, in a little while you'll be looking at the specifications of other marathons and thinking...

Dirty Dancing Through LIFE said...

wonderful job! Congratulations on being a MARATHON RUNNER! You earned it! I'm running one in December and haven't decided if it will be my first or first and only. LOL! GREAT JOB!

CewTwo said...

Thanks so much for sharing your race report. I am running my first marathon in October. I am sure that I will read your account again and again before I run mine.

The ability to find the inspiration within yourself is amazing to me. I am so glad that you found it within yourself and shared it with all of us.

I already secured my hotel (near the finish line) and made sure that I will have friends and family at the finish line. I am marking places on the map that they can move slowly to while I make my way on the course. I do agree that a support team can mean a lot in a race!

Congratulations on being a MARATHON RUNNER!

Tri Mario said...

Congratulation!!! Hope to run London one day....

thanks for the comment on my blog...


Maddy said...


all this time I thought you were a marathon pro! Congratulations for completing your first (and surely not your last) marathon!

Despite the rain and hail, your report was awesome! What an experience!

If you're interested (in a week or so) Petra, cewtwo, Susan and some others are running Chicago, It would be great to hae you there also!

Jonathan said...

Congratulations! I think you're crazy for punishing yourself like this, but hey, whatever floats your boat.

I'm just teasing...really a tremendous accomplishment, I'm impressed! Thanks for checking up on me, too. Got a new episode posted for ya.

MarathonChris said...

What a great race report! Well done on your first marathon, and fighting the weather. It sounds like you were well prepared and hung in there until the end! Hope your recover has been going well!

ScottM said...

Great job! The cold and rain sounds too familiar - like my first marathon experience in Seattle. It took me 10 years to do another, but the second was MUCH better.

Recover well and I'm sure you will be back out there doing another one soon.


jules said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pathfinder said...

It sure is tough running a marathon especially the first as you have no idea what to expect and no one can explain the feeling to you.
I ran my first 1 1/2 year ago and plan on running a second.

Good luck running