London Marathon 2017: The DebriefApril 27, 2017
Hello. I ran a marathon.
Things I have done since running a marathon:
- Told people I ran a marathon
- Eaten a lot of takeaways
- Eaten a lot of chocolate
- Told more people I ran a marathon
- Sniffed my medal
- Stared at my dirty marathon clothes in the corner
- Moved to a new flat
Because what else would I want to do the week after running a marathon other than pack up and move?
Did I mention I ran a marathon?
I write this from my bed on Thursday morning, four days after I RAN A MARATHON. I feel ok. My legs are fine. My right little toe is absolutely not fine, but everything else is fine. We had one day - Monday - when we looked subhuman trying to function, and then our bodies went back to normal. Like nothing had happened.
Apart from my arse. I cannot stop farting and they stink. My stomach is having a mare trying to deal with my sudden change in diet - known as the ‘LOL FUCK IT I RAN A MARATHON I CAN EAT EVERYTHING NOW’ diet.
There were some things I expected to happen after running a marathon. I expected to not do a lot, eat a lot, ache, wonder every minute whether I’d do it again, and have people tell me I’m great.
But there have been some things that have happened that I did not expect, and perhaps I am silly for not expecting them.
These are some things people have said to me after finding out I finished the marathon in 06 hours and 11 minutes:
“At least you finished!”
“Didn’t Ryan do well?!” (No mention of me at all.)
“You raised so much awareness, that’s the main thing.”
“Were you injured?”
"I hope Ryan's doing a lot of resting now!" (Again, no mention...)
“Well, for someone who doesn’t like running…!”
Oh well? Oh well?! Let me get something straight: I am a runner. I am a fucking marathon runner. I ran a marathon. It took me 06 hours 11 minutes. I finished the Virgin Money London Marathon 2017. I have a medal. Do you want to see my medal? Here's my medal:
I fucking love running and I worked fucking hard for months to make sure I could get around that course in one piece. I lost a stone during training. I changed my mindset, I changed my diet. Running has changed my life and I LOVE IT. Am I bothered that it took me over 6 hours? Absolutely not, you complete planks. Who told you I was upset or bothered? Did I tell you? I don’t think I did. I wanted to finish it, that was my ultimate goal. I wanted to ENJOY IT. I never even uttered a wanted time unless people forced me to give them one, for their own satisfaction. I thought I may have been able to do it in 05 hours 30 mins, but I didn’t and so what? STILL GOT MY MEDAL, PUNKS. STILL HAD A GREAT TIME. STILL RAN A FUCKING MARATHON.
(Yes, I am pissed off. Let me have this one.)
The only reason this has mildly irked me is because until I had these comments, I was SO BREEZY. Utterly chuffed. But then I started to doubt myself and try to find excuses. I was ill the week before, I’m slow, I’m not the most athletic, I’m carrying too much weight, I’m a woman, I walked a bit, it was too hot, I didn’t train enough.
AND THAT’S NOT FAIR.
I worked damned hard. I only ended up walking a mile at most (not that walking is an issue at all, FYI), and that was broken up. I ran that marathon. I ran for SIX HOURS STRAIGHT. What a fucking TROOPER I am. Yes I am slow, yes I was ill the week before, but they’re not excuses for taking six hours. IT JUST TOOK ME SIX HOURS! Because I am me and this was my marathon. I do not sign up to your judgement and presumptions. I don’t shy away from telling people my time, so don’t feel like you have to either to protect me.
I don’t need protecting, I trained for and ran a marathon. I can protect myself, thank you.
And yes, Ryan was fucking brilliant. He was a speedy little shit. His goals were different. He wanted to run a sub 4 hour marathon. He is faster than me. But we both ran the same marathon. We are equally as proud of ourselves as we are each other, and you should be too.
Alright, I’m done now. I’m glad that’s cleared up.
THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED BEFORE/DURING THE MARATHON THAT I WHAT GONE DONE AND RUN:
BEFORE PART ONE:
I was genuinely ill for five days leading up to The Big Day. Achey, sweaty, shivery, intense earache, headaches. Absolute nightmare. My body was starting to give up and I don’t blame it. So I slept a lot, took a lot of painkillers, and drank more water than the amount in The Thames itself.
Still made it to the Expo opening though. I was so sick in this photo, but it looks more lovesick. Ffs, Lou. Be chill.
BEFORE PART TWO:
We went to a wedding the day before. Months and months ago this was my primary cause of stress and anxiety. I panicked about it every day. But we managed it. We prepped all marathon stuff on the Friday, drank a lot of water during the day and no alcohol, checked what the food would be, I wore flat sandals, we took pasta bake to eat between the ceremony and reception, and we left to be home by 22:30. Easy. Job done.
DURING PART ONE:
By the time Sunday came, I felt fine. The adrenaline and excitement smothered any illness still left in me and I was B U Z Z I N G. I couldn’t wait to just enjoy the day. I smashed that sickness in the face.
I ALSO MANAGED A STELLAR POO WHEN I WOKE UP. Honestly, the relief. You have no idea.
The journey to Blackheath was quick, easy and thrilling. We live just down the road so it would have seemed like a normal train journey if it weren’t for the hundreds of marathon runners excitedly chatting amongst themselves, clutching their kit bags and adjusting their watches and headbands.
I nearly lost it when we came out of Blackheath station and saw the first marshals. THEY’RE JUST SO LOVLEY AND SUPPORTIVE AND ORGANISED AND DID I SAY LOVELY.
Turning the corner and seeing the start areas was a proper punch in the face. A nice one. There were so many people and so much was set up and OH BOY WE WERE DOING THIS.
"Wtf am I doing." in one snap
With all the work with Heads Together, I was lucky enough to head to the VIP tent for a bunch of interviews (and private toilets and free biscuits). I ended up on the sideline as the elite women started their race and it was bizarre. Also fast. They… the elites are fast. Who knew.
Minutes before we started I spoke with The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The Duchess recognised me. Her first words were, “Louise! We’ve met!” and that’s all I thought about for the first two miles.
We were fed through the start line without queuing which felt weird and wrong. I feel like I missed the buzz of being in the start area and slowly plodding towards the start line, but I also know how lucky I was to be in my position, so I did not complain. But it did mean that I was suddenly running the marathon and had literally thousands of other runners flying past me as they were in the first fast pens. That was less than helpful and I was knocked about like Simba and the wildebeest BUT AGAIN I WILL NOT COMPLAIN.
DURING PART TWO:
The first 10 miles were bloody lovely. I felt brilliant and totally in control. Despite the speed of others around me, I kept super slow and let my legs warm into the race. The crowds were phenomenal and I kept focusing on seeing my mum and brother in the crowds, which I did at Mile 11.
Then I started to struggle. I started to tire and panic a little at the size and noise of the crowds, and knew I wouldn’t see my mum again until nearly 20 miles. That was a long way away. I realise just how far I had to go.
MARATHONS ARE LONG LOL.
Then I turned the corner on to Tower Bridge. It was something I had imagined again and again over the last four months. I’d never been over Tower Bridge before and I loved that THIS would be the first time. I made sure I enjoyed that bit. I soaked it all in and grinned the whole way over…
…then I finally hit halfway - the moment all the fast runners are speeding past you the other way to the finish line. That was tough. Fuck me. I did see Sophie Raworth though, so that was nice.
Ryan, not Raworth
DURING PART THREE:
After seeing two more friends at Mile 14, it was a case of shouting, “GET TO 17, GET TO 17…” at myself because that’s how far I knew I could run without stopping. I took any sweet I could get from strangers to keep me sated and focused on seeing my mum again at Mile 18. Some best friends had joined her (yes I was texting during the marathon) so I had even more motivation.
Miles 18 - 21 saw my breakdown, as captured here. I need say no more. I was done. Ryan had finished and I was so far away. I was a stroppy little fuck.
Someone screaming my name at Mile 21 meant another sweaty collapse as she said, “THIS IS WHY WE HAVE CARS BABE!” which got me laughing. I would take any laughs by this point.
A friend I saw at Mile 14 I saw again just after Mile 21, just in time. I was walking. I couldn’t do it. So she jumped the barrier and ran with me for a mile. For real. It was phenomenal and the best act of kindness and support. She wasn’t ever pulled out and the only reason she stopped was because the showers were coming up and she wasn’t exactly dressed for moisture.
DURING PART FOUR:
I never stopped then. I ran the whole last four and a bit miles. It was horrible and exhausting and my toes, back, and bum were in agony but I was not going to walk now. I saw more friends who took more of my salty sweat on, and finally Embankment came. I was so close. I turned the corner by Big Ben and flexed my hands. I was about to finish the London Marathon.
Seeing two more sets of friends just before Buckingham Palace had me screaming and laughing and I finally went under that ‘Only 385 yards to go!’ sign.
And then, I fucking went for it. As I turned that last corner and clapped my sights on that finish line, my legs opened up and my feet pounded. I looked up and it was MY FACE on that big screen. I was the girl people were watching FLYING to the finish line. I ran past so many people and marshals were shouting my name. “THAT’S HOW YOU FINISH A MARATHON! THAT’S HOW YOU DO IT!” and I could see myself finishing on that big screen. I was BEAMING. I flew through the finish line… and actually stopped my Strava on time. Impressive.
I’d done it. I texted my mum, colleagues, and countless friends who had been messaging me through that last mile, pushing me through, the same thing: I FUCKING DID IT! Before I knew it, I had a medal round my neck and had my kit bag handed to me. I slowly limped to the Meet & Greet - which felt longer than the race itself - where Ryan ran over and picked me up. I felt drunk. I couldn’t stop talking. We took photos and laughed and chatted and I checked my phone to find hundreds of notifications. There were screenshots where people had been tracking me and I realised I hadn’t been running that race on my own at all. I wasn’t just a speck in a crowd. People were there beside me the whole time… and not just the 39,000 other runners.
So, there you have it. That was my marathon. I am a marathon runner now and you can bet your bottom dollar I won’t let you forget it.