That marathon. It was a cement mixer. A food blender. It was a day of everything. I feel very privileged to have played a ‘moving part’ in such a spectacle. And what a lesson in all the good things life has to offer. Overdoing it? I’ve may have finished, but I’ve not even started yet!
Before the race
It’s all about if you want a wee and getting your head blown off about how many people there are at Greenwich park. Everyone you see is running for someone else. Perhaps on behalf of an individual, or in the name of many thousands. All of a sudden, you go from ‘training for a long run’ to being part of one seriously sensational network. And then you wonder if you want a wee again.
Everyone starts to walk en mas and in orderly fashion to the start line. Like any decent cavalry charge, the organisers have figured out what speed a crowd of several thousand needs to be at in order to hit the start line without falling over each other…and that flip from walk to run is a great feeling. You’re off!
It’s a bit like running through a carnival. Lots of support from the Greenwich crowd and lots of colour, energy and good vibes. At this point, no one is out of steam and your senses are suitably distracted from the miles ahead. That first hour is very special. You get the sense that you’re into something pretty good.
The body starts to let you know that you’re running a marathon. The sun starts to tell you that it’s really hot. Despite my ongoing knee thing, all worries were focused on nipple burn and blisters in the first half of the run!
This is the rock star bit. Leading up to and going over Tower Bridge, into the sights, is a great buzz. For a moment, you forget that you have another half marathon ahead. Maybe I can just run back and across the bridge until the miles are clocked up?? It’s like a football stadium…on a road.
Very Good People
It’s in the hour up to Tower Bridge (13miles) that you also get the Marathon Lesson. This event is only about distance and time for the Elite. The vast majority are putting themselves through it for a bunch of incredible causes.
The London Marathon is a real-time reminder of the power, scale and enduring nature of human kindness. I was in awe. The runners and the crowd are energised by doing a good thing for other people.
I live in a commercial world. It’s a world away from the essence of the Marathon. It struck me how the BIG institutions of the land are wholly reliant on human kindness to prosper. Government could not function if people were not prepared to work on behalf of others, whatever the conditions. The BIG brands, Apple, Virgin, Barclays etc…they would have no customers if we as humans were not able to compassionately support each other. What presents itself as ‘charity’ is really an extension of people doing what people do. We don’t buy iphones intuitively, we don’t borrow money by default, we don’t fly without thinking about it, but we do help each other.
The London Marathon is 26.2 miles of people helping each other out.
I think that’s what makes it so special. With that in mind, the last 11 miles were all ahead. And my legs were starting to wobble!
Hard Yards. Water, gels, food, focus, dedications…but somehow you just run out of steam. The stride shortens, the rhythm syncopates and…you hit the….banking district! It’s also the points where you see casualties in greater number. St John’s at work on some people, others attempting roadside cramp removal, others walking in that I’ve-had-enough way. But always, a moving river of charity vests and a chorus of support from a crowd full of welcomed strangers.
Your body and mind get split in two. The support thickens and the sites of the capital are back! You do get literally carried along. But oh that body, those legs, those aches that just won’t let you alone. It’s all about hanging on.
The last 300 yards
Turning the last bend at Buckingham Palace to face the, thankfully, short stretch to the finish line is a wonderful feeling. There’s just enough endorphin in the system to let you soak up the vibes and the pain. The red tarmac of Pall Mall gives a change of tone to the heavy, heavy weather of the past 90 minutes. You’re home. Phew!
When you stop running after you’ve run for, in my case, 4 hours 46 minutes, you feel….weird? Exhausted and really quiet. No thumping feet.
All the pain of moving gets reallocated to the pain of not moving and the interim period is about as close to teleportation as I can imagine. Not that dreamy Star Trek teleportation. Think more like, The Fly.
Much like the pain of the run itself, the sense of achievement builds over time. It’s not til a good few hours later that what you’ve done really sinks in.
The upsides of this experience are numerous. The money raised from sponsorship, the life lesson, the physical fitness, the love affair with lycra, the family support, the 52 likes on Facebook, the pics, the ‘I was there’ factor. And yes, I can’t walk properly. I am the Tin Man. But…what a day.
The cuddle at the end? Priceless.
I will continue to thank everyone who has given money to the RLSB as part of my Marathon sponsorship. But in blog world, I have to say officially, again, Thank You. You have made a contribution to the futures of young visually impaired people…and one of them happens to be one of the most important people I know!
As for next year? Well, being a dad it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon…