I’ve spent this week looking at the blank blog page like an essay that I can’t seem to start writing – How can I put something down in words that hasn’t properly sunk in yet?! It all still seems a little surreal even though as I type, my medal is hung up next to my bed and I am wearing my London Marathon finisher t-shirt which drowns me but I love it.
And so I did it…London Marathon, my goal for the past two years and the race that has consumed my mind for the past 6 months is done. The surreal feeling is similar to when I used to do school plays and once I’d finished I wouldn’t know what to do with myself because I had dedicated so much time and energy to it…frankiesaysrun is a bit lost!!
The week building up to Marathon Day was really busy as I was exhibiting with Variety at the Expo – The bonus of being there was the buzz of the occasion and being able to see my Team before the weekend. It was a great atmosphere this year but obviously more surreal being a runner as well. It still didn’t feel like it was actually going to happen that weekend. I watched the ribbon be cut and went to collect my number and chip…still didn’t feel real…even talking to people about it didn’t make it click properly.
As I was still suffering with my ITB it was playing on my mind a lot. I got treatment from the physio, had a final massage and also dragged my foam roller everywhere to make sure that I was doing everything I could to be able to race! Work was proving a good distraction from how nervous I was and it wasn’t until I got home on the Friday afternoon that the butterflies went into overdrive…Only two more sleeps and race day would be here and I was definitely feeling jittery! I had lots of positivity around me in the form of Robs (my lil sis) and Stacey who arrived Friday night to cook me a delicious pasta dinner. It was lovely not to be sat alone driving myself mad.
The following day began with a slap up breakfast with sis, friends and fellow runner Sam – All part of the prepration and again, trying not to go crazy with nerves. As the day progressed and more things got done….playlist done, kit washed and prepped for the morning, garmin charged and number pinned to my vest, I felt strangely calm and focused. Once #travellingwrenskitchen arrived to cook for us, I was like a giddy child before Xmas, just itching for the day to arrive now. I didn’t go to bed particularly early either as I knew I wouldn’t sleep…so after a delicious carb loading dinner and final finishing faffing touches I put myself to bed, alarm set for 6am and I slept like a log…phew!
And all of a sudden, Marathon day had arrived…I woke up to my alarm flashing “Never Give Up and Smile” and starred at my vest hanging at the end of my bed for a few minutes focusing my mind on the challenge ahead…Then we were all up, power smoothie was consumed, peanut butter on toast and banana was forced down with plenty of water and dark chocolate was nibbled on. Final step was kit ON…that great super hero lycra feeling!!! Last minute nervous toilet stop and we were in the taxi on our way to Greenwich…
While we were standing at the gates waiting for Team Variety to arrive you could feel all of the nervous energy from the other runners arriving – I couldn’t stop jabbering away and everyone else was itching to head up the hill to the start line. From that point everything went really fast and after deciding not to resort to female urinals we stretched out in the SUNSHINE (no rain to be seen – hurrah) and headed to the pens. I stuck with my friend Sophie and I was so pleased she was there. I think I would have felt much more nervous without her. Shuffle shuffle, scream for the BBC, shuffle shuffle…..and there was the start line…no crazy gun start, just a gradual increase in pace and we’re on our way….the actual London Marathon had started….”take it all Franks” is all that was going through my head as well as making sure I didn’t trip over anyone while maintaining a steady pace.
Right from the start, the crowds were absolutely incredible – so much cheering. The first 10 miles seemed to fly by. I lost Sophie at mile 2 and so I just focused on my own race and made sure that I enjoyed it while keeping my own goal of sub fours hours at the forefront of my mind. My left leg was taped up, strapped up and I was dosed up on Voltarol to reduce as much of the inflammation as possible. No pain….surely this was too good to be true…something was going to have to give, there was going to be serious pain to push through. Isn’t the body a wonderful thing though. Not one problem throughout the entire race…I still can’t quite get over it.
Along the route, Variety had three cheering points set up and these were my small goals throughout the race… It’s hard to describe, but when I was running I felt like I was in a bubble. I had taken my music out of my ears as I didn’t want to miss out on the atmosphere. It was electric – There were kids lining the pavements giving out sweets and high fives, people who don’t know you were willing you to do well and pitched up on the sidelines were the bands, gospel choirs, singers and drummers to keep us entertained on our journey. Before I knew it, I was running on to Tower Bridge….this was one of the moments I had been looking forward to and it was spectacular….the sky was blue and I smiled all of the way across (take it all in Franks)…My next goal was mile 14 (dedicated to Kat) where Variety staff and my family were waiting…I was so excited running towards them. As I spotted the balloons I picked up my pace and I was suddenly completely overwhelmed with emotion…there were my mum and dad cheering away with my colleagues waiting to see my go past…Despite the obvious gels and lucozade, seeing their faces was the greatest fuel of the day. Just on from that point and completely out of the blue I heard Fraaankkkkieeeeeeeee!! And there’s Robyn and Stace on the other side of the road…amazing…smiles smiles smiles…more of that mega fuel!
The next section of the race was always what I was most nervous about…the dreaded point that a lot of people start to “hit the wall”. And there were a good few runners starting to struggle and stumble off to the side of the road…I just didnt feel tired at this point and I was getting frustrated with the slower pace and crowds. I had promised myself that I would be patient and not use too much energy trying to overtake, but at this point it needed to be done. Finally a bit of space. Heading towards Canary Wharf was great…the crowds were immense I still felt ok – no leg pain at all. I made sure I took on an extra energy block to keep me going through the difficult miles.
My next goal was mile 22, the next cheering point and suddenly it was there…time was flying by. A second boost from the amazing supporters and now it was on the the final push…As well as mile 20, I dedicated mile 24 to CJ, a friend who died in 2008…mile 20 had been smiles and this one was going to be speed…he kept me going and despite some tears, I smiled for him and ate jelly babies 🙂
I knew when I started getting problems with my ITB that I would have to take it slightly easier on my way round the Marathon so as to make sure that I actually completed the race. As I hadn’t suffered for 22 miles, I decided to up my pace and it felt good….I still had a lot of energy and I was full of determination for my time. At mile 25 there’s a Lucozade sign that reads “in 1.2 miles you’ll be a part of history”….. push push push…..focus and go for it…. in the distance I could see my final cheering point…some runners were starting to flag at this point and so I hopped up on to the pavement to pass everyone and the noise of them all gave me all the drive I needed for a strong finish… Never Give up and Smile…this is final 600m.
As I turned off of Birdcage walk and past Buckingham palace my stride opened up…this was the final sprint…it felt amazing, the speed, the total elation that I was about to finish a Marathon, London Marathon in Olympic year….I can see the clock and it’s ticking towards 3:57….come ooooooooon! You can do this, you can break four hours…..arms up (that much thought about finishing pose) and I am across the finish line… done…keep moving… and then came the emotion… tears… and noone to immediately share the moment with… thank goodness for the lovely lady who came over and gave me a hug….it was just what I needed.
After the finish line I was just drifting along collecting my stuff and feeling pretty good, not wobbly or out of breath just a bit stunned that it was all over. I was then greeted by Robs, Stace and Cat and that was fantastic! Salty hugs all round before being whisked off to the RAC to eat, shower, see everyone and get a well earned massage. This was also all a bit of a blur. I went through a phase of not recovering very well and feeling really unwell…nothing that a bit of recovery shake can’t handle and I was feeling a lot better in the end.
I was trying my hardest to take in all of the amazing feelings from the day and congratulations from people. It was the most overwhelming afternoon in the best way possible – friends, family, colleagues and your team mates all there!! I was still pondering…did that just happen?
After an evening of steak, wine and a sofa in the White Horse I crashed in to bed at around Midnight, utterly exhausted…I don’t even remember my head hitting the pillow…
Working towards the London Marathon, blogging about it, hearing other peoples stories about it, getting support for it, being inspired by it, becoming a running geek, and working hard at it has been the most incredible, challenging and emotional journey and it is a race that I will remember for the rest of my life…the training both physically and mentally has taught me so much about what I can achieve when I put my heart and soul into it and that we are all stronger than we think.
What will the next challenge be?
NEVER GIVE UP…AND SMILE!!!
Marathon time: 3:57:50
I would like to thank everyone who has supported me during my London Marathon journey, whether its been by reading my blog, sponsoring me, listening to be rattle on about running, tweeting me with hints tips and positive thoughts, rubbing me down, treating my injuries, inspiring me or being there on the day…I couldn’t have done it without you! I hope you enjoyed the journey too….xx