Sunday was a great day for a race. I’d trained hard and tapered properly for the Virgin Money London Marathon 2015, so all I had to do was turn up on the morning.
Approaching the start at Blackheath I spotted one other runner taking the bus. By the train station I spotted a few more. On the platform, a few dozen. On the train, hundreds, and finally as we walked uphill to the start, a sea of thousands.
The event was predictably well organised – baggage drop off (and collection) was fast and efficient. Toilet queues were acceptable. The tannoy announced updates and told people where to go and when.
Once in my starting pen we started yo shuffle forward, walking at first then building into a light jog. In my mind I liken this moment to watching an orchestra tuning up before a concert. Each runner standing still, stretching or bouncing then building forward momentum. Slowly that walk that became a jog speeds up as the start banner is approached, then accelerates into an enthusiastic race speed as we pass under the banner and over the timing mats.
Right from the start, the crowds were amazing. The first 12 miles barely registered as we ran through south London and then crossed over Tower Bridge, the 20k point. The rain held off and it was humid enough for me to be comfortable enough in just my club running vest.
Running through Canary Wharf there were a few gentle ups and downs in the course. Definitely not hilly but at this point in the race I noticed any terrain that wasn’t perfectly flat! Fortunately by this point I was no longer having to overtake lots of runners, having started in a slower pen. I started to spot a handful of runners whom I would spend much of the remainder of the race with.
20 miles came round fast enough, and I knew each step was taking my towards Embankment and then to the finish. The crowds at this point were several people thick, and again I didn’t have to do much to keep my legs turning over and cruising forward amid the noise and excitement created by the supporters.
Embankment continued for what seemed like forever (the only mile in the race which I was counting down) but soon enough I approaches Big Ben and accelerated toward the finish.
My quads were killing me during the last few miles, but apart from that I finished the race injury-free. Many friends have asked me whether I enjoyed the day and I can honestly say I did: I waited four years for a spot in the race, during which time I learnt a lot about the course and developed as a runner. Would I do it again? Sure I would, though there are so many races out there to do, I won’t be disappointed if I have to wait another several years.
I had one day off then I was back to training for my next race…