Monday, 18 February 2013

London Marathon 2011

In 2011 I ran the London Marathon in memeory of my good friend Ray Glazer, who had recently passed away of a long battle with cancer. In Ray's memory I raised money for two worthwile charities, MacMillian Cancer Support and the Alzheimer's Society.

Below is my original report, posted on the Adventure Fundraising website.
After not getting to bed until gone 01.00 I was back up again at 05.30 ready to make my way to the start line. After a quick breakfast I hit the tube system on route to my start point at Blackheath. The tube was very busy and once on the DLR & South Eastern trains everyone was crammed into the carraiges shoulder to shoulder. However, all the train operators ran the services very well with extra trains put on and plenty of station staff to assist.

The atmosphere at the runners start area was very friendly, with people chatting to each other whilst getting ready and loading their kit bags onto the trucks, to be transported to the finish area. I have to say that the logistical organisation of the whole event was second to none.

After suffering from a bout of the 'Man Flu' and missing most of the last two weeks of my training I thought that I would be running much slower than I had intended and therefore decided to put myself further back in the start line, than my allocated position according to my predicted time of 3hrs 30mins. This proved to be a big mistake as once across the start line it took a long time and several miles for the thousands of runners, who were running shoulder to shoulder, to thin out enough for me to be able to pass people and work my way up through the crowds. Eventually though gaps did appear and it was possible to start striding out and make good progress.

Once I was underway and running well I calculated that I should be able to do a 3:45 or even a 3:40 if all went well. The atmosphere was fantastic with thousands of people cheering the runners on and bands playing on virtualy every corner. Kids were everywhere wanting to 'high five' with the runners as they went by. With water stations placed every few miles I was able to take on board plenty of water, which was essential in the heat. By about mile 6 I was already seeing people lying at the sides of the road in difficulty and the numbers increased, further into the route. Quite a few appeared to be in a bad way and were being tended to by medics.

By mile 7 I was feeling quite hungry, and passing various fast food outlets I was tempted to peel off for a quick bite to eat! However, I had the Lucozade Sport drinks stations to look forward to and my usual supply of sweets, in my bumbag, to provide me with sustanance. Whoopee!!

I felt I was running well now and enjoying the whole carnival atmosphere and the miles just dissapeared without me realising it. At mile 15, around Canary Wharf, the roads seemed to narrow causing the pace to drop again due to the congestion of runners. By mile 18, and approaching the heart of the cities financial district, my legs were staring to feel it a little. However, my spirits where high and you couldn't help but be carried along by the crowd and the fantastic atmosphere. At this stage I calculated that I was on for a 3hr:45min finish which I would have been happy with considering having been unwell and the level of training I'd done.

The 20 mile mark was a significant milestone as I was now counting down the miles instead of up. After mile 23 I would now be running in completely new terroritory as 21 miles was the furthest road miles I had done during training. Entering Blackfriars Tunnel was a short welcome relief from the baking sun and once out on the other side there would only be roughly a couple of miles to go to the finish.

My pace seemed to drop off considerably at around 24 miles and I had to have a word with myself to keep moving at a running pace and not a jog. Just before the 25 mile marker I heard my son Lewis shouting out from the crowd. I spotted him at Embankment with Pam and Lucy, all out to cheer both myself and the other runners on.

With a mile to go I realised that I wasn't even going to make the 3hr 50min mark. I don't know what had happened in those last few miles but I must have slowed the pace quite a bit. After passing through Parliment Square and running alongside St James' Park, with only 800 metres to go, I passed a man who could barely stand up. He had lost all control of his legs and fell to the ground in a heap. I still feel guilty about running by and not helping him but there were plenty of medics around who would be able to offer him assisstance. I hope he is ok and hopefully he was still able to cross the finish line and receive his medal. It must be heart renching for anyone not to be able to complete the marathon but to make it that far and falter, so close to the finish, must be heart breaking, after all those months of training.

With only 400 metres to go it was time to put a bit of a spurt on. At the end of St James's Park the route turns right passing Buckingham Palace and then turns into the Mall for the final 200 metres to the finish line. I sprinted this final 200metres (well as best you can after 26.2 miles) to finish in some sort of respectable fashion, crossing the finish line in 3hours 51 minutes and 41 seconds.

Although very disapointed with my time I had fully enjoyed the event and was happy that I'd ran in memory of my friend Ray Glazer and was able to raise money for two very worthy charities - MacMillan Cancer Support and Alzheimer's Society.

Now that a few days have passed and I've had time to reflect I suppose, as others have told me, that I shouldn't be too dissapointed with my time. After all I never originally set out to run a certain time. I ran the London Marathon because it was always something I'd wanted to do. Being a fellrunner, I only intended to run it the once and therefore wanted to enjoy the whole event whilst raising money for charity. Because I was running for charity I'd deliberalty conducted my training carefully and with caution so as not to get injured and ensure I made it to the start line. Coupled with not being to well and missing alot of my training, over the last two weeks, and starting too far back in the line-up, I suppose I can't complain.

However, I know I can run a much faster time, and as I told myself, within the first couple of miles, I will be running another to try to get a better time.

Two days after the marathon I was back out running on the hills and already formulating plans for my next fundraising adventure.

Thanks to all the people who sent messages of support and to those who donated to MacMillan Cancer Support and the Alzheimer's Society. Your donations will help to make a difference to peoples lives.

Chris M

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