On Friday I received confirmation of my place for the Virgin Money London Marathon 2014. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the e-mail since I pressed ‘send’ on my withdrawal confirmation for the 2013 race. It’s now just over 10 months until I’ll run my second marathon!
For those who are new to my blog, a little recap. I started running in April 2011 around about the same time I found Thinking Slimmer and the Slimpod. I was soon hooked and after completing my first 5K race in June 2011 I was asked to join the Thinking Slimmer team for the 10 mile Great South Run later that year. Through that race I met Darin McCloud, a fellow Slimpodder, who’s weight loss and fitness journey never ceases to inspire me.
Just before taking part in the Great South Run, I decided that I wanted to run the London Marathon in 2012. It seemed like a great challenge, just one year on from starting to run. I searched around and got a Golden Bond charity place through CRunCH who match runners with smaller charities.
Darin decided to join me in this challenge and we were also joined by another Slimpodder Dawn. The three of us trained separately – Darin and I ran the Brighton Half Marathon together during our training, but aside from that our training was done apart. But we were in constant contact online – sharing updates from our training runs, providing support and encouragement. It felt like I was training with a team rather than on my own. Darin and I knew that we were well matched in terms of speed and decided that we would run together on the day. Dawn agreed to start the race with us and then do her own thing when the right time came.
Our one and only goal was to finish. As first time marathoners our time would be a personal best whatever it was. However, we both had personal goals which we didn’t share widely – we both thought that a 5hr30 – 5hr45 finish was within our capabilities, and although we didn’t specifically aim for that time, we both had it in the back of our minds. We trained to a 9min run/1 min walk pattern at around 12.30 min mile pace and it worked well for both of us so we decided to do this on the day.
The race started well, we paced ourselves and made good progress to halfway. Dawn left us at around mile 6 to run her own race but Darin and I stayed together. Our pace was consistent and we were doing well. But at around mile 16 disaster struck and Darin pulled up with a calf injury. We got assistance from St John’s ambulance who suggested that he walk for a while to try and ease off his calf. It worked for a while but whenever Darin tried to run again things got worse.
At mile 17 Darin asked me if I wanted to leave him and go ahead. I had a decision to make and I made it quickly. I thought about what I would want if it was the other way around and what was important to me in terms of the race. I decided quickly that I would stay with him despite the fact that would probably mean walking the next 9 miles.
Many people have since told me that they would have done differently. That they’d have left Darin and continued with their race. I can honestly say that this thought never entered my head. We had trained together, started the race together and would finish together, in whatever time that took. I couldn’t have lived with myself if I had left Darin and he’d not finished the race. OK, so I’d have got a better time, but at what cost?
But at the same time as I made the decision to stay with him, I also made another one. That I’d come back and run this race again, maybe not the next year but at some point in the future – to prove to myself what I was capable of.
Darin and I crossed the finishing line in 6hrs and 28 minutes having walked the last 9 miles of the race. It felt like an amazing achievement given what had happened and we were both incredibly proud to call ourselves marathoners just one year on from starting our running careers. I think this picture says it all
A few days after finishing the race I decided that 2014 would be the year that I would take on the London Marathon again. I had two chances to get a ballot place, if I got one for 2013 I planned to defer, and if that didn’t work then I’d get another charity place. So I submitted my ballot entry for the 2013 race, along with the 100,000 other hopefuls and waited.
In October 2012 I found out that the marathon gods had smiled on me and that I’d been lucky enough to get a ballot place for the 2013 race. For a while thoughts entered my mind of running the race in 2013 rather than deferring, but I knew that waiting until 2014 would give me more time to get into shape and the best chance of achieving a time that I could really be proud of.
So I deferred. And then on Friday this week got confirmation of my place for the 2014 race. My performance in the Edinburgh Half Marathon last week has given me a huge confidence boost and actually made me quite excited about what I might be capable of achieving. I have stuck my neck out and estimated a finishing time of 4hrs and 45 mins. My primary aim is to get around in under 5 hours, but aim high and you never know what might happen, right?
So now I have 10 months to prepare. And the first stage of that preparation is to get my body fat down into the ideal range and to continue strengthening my body in preparation for the mileage that I’ll need to start putting in later in the year. It’s fantastic to have such a long time to prepare for the race and I intend to use that time well!
Operation sub 5 is on!