Back at the Olympic Stadium
Shelley Woods at the expo in Excel
Marathon day and the usual scrambled eggs on toast and then off to meet Kerry and catch the train into London Bridge, where I met Alex and Joe and Alex (McDonald) and John (Buckley). This was also John’s first London Marathon, raising funds for RNIB whilst Alex’s was supporting prostate cancer, a cause close to me after my dad was treated for it in 2012, and Kerry was raising funds for Action for Children, a charity I supported 2003 to 2006. Alex (McD!) and Joe were along to support. Alex McD is a patient with Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) and also a very good friend, so it was great to have her with us. We all headed to the start, where we parted three spate ways, Alex to the blue start, Alex and Joe to Bermondsey to watch and the rest of us to the red start. Once there, Kerry popped on his tutu and dog collar while I was already in y London 2012 Games maker kit, including trainers! I also switched off my phone, which had been busy with text messages and Facebook posts of good luck. In fact I’d been getting messages since Friday!
Just before that start at 10am, we observed a half minutes silence in honour of the atrocities at Boston six days earlier. We then ended it with applause before the starting gun and off we went. I had already parted from John and Kerry as we started in different zones and was without Julie (last year’s “Where’s Wenda”) so for the first time in a few years had no one to run with. (well, there were 35,000 others about so I wasn’t really on my own!) I started fine and maintained near enough my usual target pace of seven and a half minute miles, despite being fully clothed and the sun getting ever more prevalent – typically the one day you want it cool the British weather does the opposite!!
Coming through mile 11.5 in Bermondsey
The 30th marathon of my “career” and what better way than to head to London to mark the occasion for my 9th trek around the world famous course. However, 2013’s was mixed with jubilation and sadness as we marked the first big sporting event in London since the glorious summer of 2012 and yet six days earlier had seen the Boston Marathon finish turned into the scene of two bomb explosions with three lives lost and 180 injured. I also headed to London having done a radio interview the week before on BBC Humberside and a near on page spread in the Hull Daily Mail.
Every London I seem to know more and more running it. For 2013 there were my fellow club runners – 12 in total including good friends, Julie Donald, Sam Allen and Jackie Hardman; my training buddy and friend, Alex Cleeland; Methodist links and friends, Kerry tankard, Robin Fox and Jen Howse; Gay Games link, Craig Jones, another Hull liked friend John Buckley and no doubt others I’ve missed. As ever, the weekend involved registration, and I met Alex and his partner, Joe to register. This was Alex’s first London Marathon so lots to digest and whilst we had our lunch I was delighted that we got to hear Shelley Woods, Paralympics 2012 Wheelchair marathon silver medallist and two times London Marathon winner. Afterwards, I met friends, Liz Dunning and Alex McDonald to go on a Park in progress Tour of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. An opportunity to see how it’s developing as well as reminisce about the summer of 2012. Alex and I also took a trip over the Emirates Skyride before meeting fellow marathon runner, Kerry Tankard, for tea. All fed and items acquired, it was back to south London for the night at my Aunt Val’s – my last marathon there as she was literally in the process of moving. I prepared my kit ready for the next day, including my T-shirt printed compliments of D3 and some physio and bed.
At mile 15 I had a loo stop and quick stretch as I could feel the hamstring twinging. I then headed on round Docklands, though was feeling the rising temperature and had a couple of brief walks between 16 and 17.5 miles. At this point I stopped completely where there were less crowds and literally lied on the pavement to give me hamstring a proper stretch and rolling up my trousers to make them shorts as I was feeling very hot! Time was never the target this year, it was about getting round in the Games Maker gear. I headed on in to the Canary Wharf loop and still feeling a bit fatigued passed through the 18 mile mark. As I did so a lady was running alongside me repeating my name. Once I acknowledged her she said she was from the BBC and they had spotted my Games maker kit and would I do an interview! It would clearly have been rude to say no – the whole point of my attire was to get some publicity after all! It turned out I was interviewed by 400metres Olympic Bronze Medallist in the Sydney games, Katharine Merry. With about ten seconds notice I was on camera! I duly answered the questions, having starting chatting as she spoke before I realised we were actually recording! (Just as well I didn’t know I was talking to an Olympic medallist as I would have probably got doubly excited!)
The effect on me was unreal as I upped a gear and sped off round Canary Wharf, buoyed further to see Alex and Joe at 30km and the wall of noise being made as the place was packed deeper than I can ever remember – no one was running scared after Boston! I did stop again at 19.3 miles approx as my hamstring continued to be suspect and had a first aider give me a proper stretch on the floor – this time really working my hamstring and glut to minimise the problems.
At 30km passing under the shadow of Canary Wharf
I had gone for the Games maker kit as a link from the summer of 2012 and a novel way to promote the fundraising and get publicity. As I traversed the course, a saw another Games Maker – in fact she’d worked for the Games for 6 years and only had the Games maker top rather than full kit like me. The Kit was doing the trick though and as I made my way round London I had “volunteer”, “Olympic man”, “Olympics”, “Games maker” shouted at me, some people going “He’s one of those....” (as they tried to think why they recognised me) and my favourite one, which occurred twice, was when someone shouted “Thanks for the Olympics” in such a way you’d think I was Lord Seb Coe! I was happy to respond “You’re welcome”!
Alex and Joe were at Bermondsey and gave a great cheer as did friends, Brenda and Marion on Tower Bridge (sadly I didn’t see them despite the noise they apparently made!). It reflects how packed the crowds were as I then missed Jacqui, Debs, Andrew, Paul and Denise at half way, which I passed through at 1:42:35 – a good time considering I’d had six weeks training and first time I’d run that far non stop since October 2012’s Lausanne Marathon. The better news was I kept going through to mile 15 which was more than I’d done the last two London’s, where it had all gone wrong half way round.
Being interviewed by 400m Olympic Bronze Medallist Katharine Merry at mile 18 on the BBC
With Alex (McD) after finishing
Lucas & Alex with their medals
Joe and Alex arrive at registration
On route to the start at London Bridge - Joe, Alex (C), Alex (McD), Lucas, Kerry and John
Left - Liz and Alex soak up the sun under the Orbit in the Olympic Park
Julie, Sam & Jackie at Excel for registration
Alex and Joe doing a great job cheering us round the course
Amazingly it did seem to help as I managed to run the bulk of the route back from mile 20. I did have a few walking sections as there was never any point in aggravating it more than I was obviously doing, but the crowds really kept me going – the Games maker gear was a hit and paid off big time. From mile 21 the crowd never dissipated and truly were keeping up the spirit of what made us so proud to be British in 2012, especially as I passed the Games maker Choir at around 22 miles – 100 strong and a massive cheer as a result. Passing the Tower of London I actually spotted friend, Adrian, who was at 23.32 miles (very precise I thought but that’s what he told me!) and carried on rallied by the crowds and the fact I could possibly still finish in under 4 hours! I had missed Ian Howse (Jen’s husband) and another friend, Alex Davies, both at mile 22 who later commented, independently of each other “you were in the zone!” – in my opinion more no longer able to focus on finding friends in the crowd as there were so many people.
Finally I turned into Bird Cage Walk for the final section to the finish. I passed Alex and Joe once more, but didn’t realise, and then another friend, James and his parents, Di and Allan (whom missed me and vice versa) as I went through mile 26 and clocked I had approx 100 seconds to beat four hours. Still motivated from the Games Maker kit I some energy as I sprinted up the Mall and over the line in 3:59:54. No PB, but a remarkable time given my lack of training. Thanks must be conveyed here to Jamie at Bodyfixed for the physio in getting my foot back on track and my hamstring suffice to enable me to get round at all. Many had expected me to withdraw after I was not allowed to run for six weeks when I damaged my foot in early February. My grit and determination paid off!
Having retrieved my kit, acquired my medal and goody bag etc I tracked down Alex, Joe and Alex (runner) at the LAM Action banner in Horsegaurds parade, where other friends met up with me too. It was confirmed I’d been shown on the BBC’s coverage about 15 – 20 minutes after I’d been filmed and checking my phone the volume of texts implied likewise. When I got to Facebook I was overwhelmed by the number of friends watching, including one in Italy and my aunt in Switzerland! The LAMAction team were delighted with the extra publicity there small charity had gained and it was certainly boosting my sponsorship! Alex Cleeland had come in at 3:27:48 – a fantastic time and an official PB for him.
Huge thanks to the supporters as well, on the roadside, Alex McD, Joe, Kerry’s wife, Karen and sons Haydn and Joe; Debs, Andrew, Jacqui, Denise, Paul, Ian, Brenda, Marion, Adrian, Alex D, Andy G, James, Di and Allan as well as David and Janice Mercer at Horseguards Parade (LAM Action) and Sandra, Steve, Cieran, Aunt Val and Anna back at “base” for transport, accommodation, food and entertainment. Finals thanks to everyone who sent message by text, email and on Facebook – I was genuinely overwhelmed by the good will and wishes of so many friends and family and to know so many were watching. With record breaking crowds, the British showed how we unite together and do not live in fear but celebrate the wonders of human life and the challenges it presents to us. 24 hours later I was back on the radio being interviewed by BBC Radio Humberside again and ploughing through the numerous generous messages etc on Facebook. My favourite – “It’s great to hear a proper west country accent!” – Glad to know my years in Yorkshire have not deflected my Oh-ar Somerset roots!
I had updates from other runners then and over the afternoon. John finished in a fabulous 3:39:23, Kerry a PB of 4:21:21, Julie a great time of 3:38:48; Sam did a PB of 3:29:19 – nearly ten minutes off her 2012 time; Jackie a fabulous 3:51:16 and 38th in the Women’s 55-59 category; Craig 3:45:1; Jen 4:22:40 and Robin a London best of 4:18:39. Massive well done to all, raising thousands of pounds for various charities.
With fellow LAM runner, Rufus
With Adrian after finishing
James, Allan and Di find Lucas after missing him through mile 26
The family TV supporters - Sandra, Steve, Anna, Cieran and Aunt Val