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23 April 2018 @ 12:05 pm
The London Marathon: -1 Day  
So how did it go?

Saturday was the London Marathon expo to which I had to get by 5pm in order to get my bib number and timing chip on presentation of my passport. There was some hand-waving about this being necessary to ensure identity but, to be honest, we couldn't see it was much more secure than the Great Manchester Run's procedure of posting your bib and timing chip to you, and suspected instead that it was about selling things. There was indeed a lot of for sale but given I was travelling light I wasn't much interested in buying running gear. I did pay to get my name printed on my T-shirt and bought myself some snacks since I hadn't had lunch, then because I was waiting for the T-shirt printing I had my photo taken with my bib for last minute posting to social media to ask for sponsorship. I stopped by the Shelter stand where they were particularly grateful that I was raising money for them on a ballot place. I apologised a little for not raising as much money for people on charity places (yes, believe it or not, I was having imposter syndrome about raising money for charity!) but they told me that they actually had to pay the London Marathon a lot for every charity place and were always grateful for ballot places which didn't cost them anything. I'd arrived at about midday on a crowded DLR train. I left around 2pm and stopped on the way out to buy a bagel sandwich at a storefront in the Excel centre. I couldn't find somewhere to sit to eat it and so proceeded back towards the train station. Things got increasingly crushed until I was standing in a more or less stationary crowd. This was next to an eating area which did have spare seats so I ducked out and ate my sandwich and wondered vaguely why no one was marshalling the crowds. Everyone was pretty good-humoured but it looked to me like the space was one panic away from people getting crushed. About 10 minutes later it all freed up and people started moving. When I got to the exit I found that London Marathon registration people were now being directed to an alternative route on a lower level as they left the train (either that or they were all being fed to some beast in the bowels of the Excel centre) meaning that most people on the upper level were all moving in the same direction. I headed to my hotel and actually fell asleep for an hour. It had been mostly hot, crowded and stressful.

Sunday: I got to the start in good time on extremely crowded trains, with a bonus starting goody bag from my hotel. I stashed my bag, went to the loo, and then sat in the sun in my starting pen. I was right next to the 3h 45 minute pacers which was the speed I was intending to go for the first 2 hours. I had a look to see if there were 3h 50 minute pacers anywhere since all the information said to slow down a bit but I couldn't see any, so decided to stick with the plan. My pen got to cross the starting line about 10:22 and the pacers were excellent - maintaining an absolutely rock solid pace. It was very crowded though and though I tried not to stress about it too much (and the pacers had massive flags on their backs so one could see them easily some way off) I was uncomfortably aware that my head comes about the height of an awful lot of runners' elbows.

It was hot. I gradually began to realise that I really, really didn't like this. I'm an early morning runner in general, 11am in London on one of the hottest days in April, is actually one of the hottest runs I've ever done. I began to lose sight of the pacers around 6miles, but I still hit 7 miles at just over an hour - not far off my target pace. By the time I got to Tower Bridge however I was suffering. I reached the halfway point (just after Tower Bridge) around 2 hours. At this point I needed the loo and ducked off the course where I was enthusiastically waved to the front of the queue. At least, I told myself, I was drinking enough. Of course, then I started worry that I was drinking too much - there had been far more warnings pre-race about not over-drinking and B. had said that dehydration was normally simple to deal with while over-hydration was a hospitalisation deal.

From this point on my pace dropped dramatically and the whole thing became an endurance test. In the shade I'd feel able to speed up a bit and then I'd be out in the sun again and slow down. Although the crowd had thinned there were still a lot of runners and now I was stumbling into them as often as they were stumbling into me. My jelly babies started to melt. I began calculating how long it would take me to walk the remaining distance. Everyso often I did slow and walk for a bit, particularly when I grabbed another bottle of water from a water station.

Around 19 miles, I began to think I would make it at a run. "Only a little over 10km," I told myself, "you regularly run 10km". Some time later I caught up with TheProf. TheProf is an active member of the Shelter London Marathon group on Strava, and we had chatted on the website a couple of times. Like me this was his first marathon and, based on training, I'd figured he was going to be a smidgen faster than I was, so it was reassuring in a way to discover he was having as much trouble as I was. I said hi and he berated himself for a "classic how not to do a marathon".

I'd hoped to do the marathon in under 4 hours, I'd thought that the worst case scenario would be under 4 hours 30 minutes. In the end I was 4 hours 38 minutes and 21 seconds. But at least I made it. What's more I made it without injuring the knee, ankle or plantar fascia all of which had given trouble during training. I was in the first 50% of runners, female runners and female runners between 45 and 49. I even beat TheProf even though I was sure I'd seen him overtake me again. Although my pace profile is pretty much exactly what you would expect from someone who started off too fast, I don't feel to bad about it. I'd made a race plan and a stuck to that plan as long as I could, the problem was that with no real experience of running in the heat, I'd had no useful information on how I needed to adapt the plan. If I were to do it again, I think I would aim to run at the "easy pace" I'd been using throughout training (about a minute per mile slower than my target pace).

At the finish I just felt really odd. I drank some water, and started to eat the protein bar I'd bought for immediate refuel but I could face it and left it half eaten. There was an apple in my goody bag and I did better with that. I had to sit down a bit before the baggage trucks and then again after collecting my bag. Eventually I felt able to get up and walk and staggered my way to where Shelter had set up in a pub. It was nice to be cheered and photographed as I entered. There was a variety of complementary food and drink on offer but I still couldn't face it, but did manage to get upstairs for the free massage. Feeling somewhat revived, I then staggered the 100 yards or so to Charing Cross station and got across town to Euston where I collapsed into first class. At this point I made myself eat a bag of crisps from the goody bag and got more water from the trolley. Some texting with claraste established that I was almost certainly dehydrated, but it wasn't clear what I could do about it on the train beyond continuing to drink water.

I caught up with social media where sophievdennis had been keeping up a running commentary (via the London Marathon tracking app) and had managed to snag a blurry shot of me crossing the finish line.

I accidentally left my goody bag containing both medal and finishers' T-shirt on the train (Plus my favourite larp belt pounch and its contents of congealed jelly babies). Got home. Ate more crisps, half a foccacia and a cookie while drinking ginger ale and prosecco. Tried to download my run log from my Garmin only for it to disconnect halfway through and corrupt all the data. I feel mildly like all proof of the race has been lost! However I note one can buy finishers' medals on ebay if one really wants to (previous experience leaving things on trains convinces me that these days there is little point phoning the train company about lost property - train cleaning is subcontracted out and they've no idea where stuff left on trains ends up and its pretty difficult to contact the London Marathon though I have left a message on their Facebook page in vague hopes). Hopefully there are official photos to come.

I was still feeling pretty strange this morning and had to force myself to eat breakfast. I lost 1.2kg between Saturday morning and this morning. Mind you B. lost 2kg overnight which, more than anything else, convinced me he was genuinely ill (there was a certain amount of grumbling when I had to get up this morning, make coffee for us both and then got criticised for not bringing Lemsip). However I suddenly felt ravenously hungry around 10:30am and am feeling much better now - though still inclined to odd dizzy spells when walking around.

Would I do it again? I don't know. I did not enjoy running in the heat at all. I also didn't really like quite how much time and energy the training took up though I'm fairly sure a second marathon would use up less mental space than this did, even if it took up as much training time. I'd like at some point to have another stab at under 4 hours, but not any time soon. I think I'll stick to half marathons at least for the next year or so. In the end I raised an awesome £361.72 for Shelter which comes to over £400 when gift aid is taken into account.

Crossing the finish!

Selfie at the start

Selfie at the finish

The only thing I managed to successfully record - my step count!!

The results from the web page.

This entry was originally posted at https://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/496936.html.
fredbassettfredbassett on April 23rd, 2018 01:35 pm (UTC)
liadtbunny: DC Ten out of Tenliadtbunny on April 23rd, 2018 03:33 pm (UTC)
Bravo for making it to the end! It sounded gruelling. Sorry you lost your goody bag. If you do a marathon again I hope it's cooler.
louisedennis: General:Runninglouisedennis on April 28th, 2018 05:13 pm (UTC)
I'm pretty annoyed about the goody bag, but these things happen I suppose. I think, if I do do a marathon again I'll go for the Manchester marathon. It's earlier in the year and in Manchester - both of which should keep the temperature down.
daniel_saundersdaniel_saunders on April 23rd, 2018 06:03 pm (UTC)
knitekatknitekat on April 23rd, 2018 09:00 pm (UTC)
philmophlegm: Bush Tucker Manphilmophlegm on April 23rd, 2018 11:20 pm (UTC)
I had two people on my Facebook friends list run on Sunday - you and an 18-year-old elite athlete on an athletics scholarship at one of our sportier local public schools. You are allowed to feel chuffed that she didn't finish.
louisedennis: General:Runninglouisedennis on April 28th, 2018 05:14 pm (UTC)
My office mate is terribly concerned about this. Can you reassure her that said elite athlete still has her athletics scholarship!
philmophlegmphilmophlegm on May 20th, 2018 02:50 pm (UTC)
She's 18,so she'll have just finished school.
Cordelia Delayne: [marvel] agent jemma simmonscordeliadelayne on April 24th, 2018 02:27 am (UTC)
king_pellinor: P Knightking_pellinor on April 24th, 2018 07:40 am (UTC)
Congratulations! It really is an impressive feat, especially in that heat :-)

Sorry to hear about you losing your bag, though :-(
louisedennis: General:Runninglouisedennis on April 28th, 2018 05:14 pm (UTC)
I know! I'm cross about the bag, even though I never know what to do with the medals one gets given at these things.
athene: atlantis pythagoras triangledeinonychus_1 on April 24th, 2018 10:46 am (UTC)
Congratulations! Shame about losing the bag on the train, though :-(
louisedennis: General:Runninglouisedennis on April 28th, 2018 05:15 pm (UTC)
I was cross about the bag, but there were far worse things I could have left in it than the medal (my passport for instance), so on the whole I think I got off lightly.
fififolle: Banlieue13 - makingfriendsfififolle on April 28th, 2018 10:38 am (UTC)
You did incredibly and I kept an eye on the app all day, it was fun for me at least to see you tracking around the course. It's such an achievement, but my goodness, the weight loss and feeling weird, no wonder! Huge congrats :D
louisedennislouisedennis on April 28th, 2018 05:15 pm (UTC)
The weight was all back by Tuesday, so it must have been mostly water loss (though I am wondering where all the calories came from!)
fififolle: Primeval - Becker confusedfififolle on April 29th, 2018 01:51 pm (UTC)