Every year, thousands of people head to London to take part or watch the London Marathon. And in 2018, I was one of those crazy people that took part in the hottest London Marathon on record. It’s not surprising that during the race I learnt some things about myself and the world around as I pushed through blood, sweat and tears.
One. You can never train enough
I know I probably didn’t train enough. While other people were doing 20 miles runs, I was doing 5km with a buggy and weighted squats at the gym. I was more concerned with staying upright rather than speed. But none of it mattered in the end. One week before the marathon, I was struck down with a stomach bug. For 6 hours (non-stop) I purged my body of whatever was in me. I was wrecked and all of my training had gone out the window.
Two. People are wasteful
As I was running around, I saw a lot from the back of the pack. There was mountains, literal mountains of water bottles piled up on the side of the road. Most of them only had a sip of water out of them. It was the same for bottles of Lucozade Sport. This really pissed me off because loads of water stops ran out of water because people were wasting full bottles.
Three. People are awesome
It was the hottest London Marathon on record and everyone knew it. Despite the runners being wasteful with water bottles, the people of London were prepared for the heat. People came outside with their garden hoses and with buckets of ice. Little kids gave us frozen lollies and sprayed us with water pistols.
Four. Drunk people suck
As my day wore on, I encountered more and more drunk people. There was a few times I was ready for smacking the crap out of someone. But there were people who got dogs abuse for being fat and running a marathon. How dare a larger person decide to get off the sofa and do something! Yeah, drunk people think it’s good fun to mock and annoy people who are pushing themselves to their limits.
Five. But not all drunk people
I had three miles to go and a drunk guy started running beside me. He was as pissed as a fart and had run the marathon the year before. He ran along with me, trying me it was going to be ok, he done it last year, and I was going really well.
Six. I have weird feet
I didn’t think that I had weird feet until I was three miles in and my toes started to tingle. What I didn’t realise until I took my socks and shoes off was my toes turn slightly. For the entire marathon, the nails on my middle toes were sawing into my other toes.
Seven. IBS is not as bad as you think
I have talked before about my IBS and how I struggle with it and I thought I would have had a horrible time with it over the weekend. I had to get on a plane, navigate in unfamiliar territory while dealing with a questionable tummy.
Eight. People in costumes are crazy
I can’t understand why anyone would want to run a marathon in fancy dress. Seriously. It’s hard enough without adding a massive weight to carry.
Nine. You will hurt in places you didn’t think existed
I didn’t think it would be possible to get a square bruise on the top of my foot, but I did. I didn’t think it would be possible for my feet to feel like they were burning in the coals of Hell, but they did. I didn’t think it was possible for my groin and hips to feel like I’d had spent the day making a porno, but they did. Everything ached.
Ten. You will cry
I sobbed a few times as I went round. I’m not ashamed of it.
Eleven. You might need someone to hold your hand
For the last two miles, my friend Helen walked with me and held my hand while I bitched non-stop about how everything hurt.
Twelve. People will stop at nothing to get over the line
I saw a woman repeatedly vomit at the side of the road, but she still got over the line. There was another woman who had a broken leg and ran for miles on it before she had to give up. As I was about to cross the line, she whizzed past me in a wheelchair as a guy from St John’s Ambulance pushed her at full speed. Someone died. People will push themselves to the limit to get across the finish line.
Thirteen. You might feel a little bit bitter
I know I shouldn’t admit this but the lady who got pushed over the line in the wheelchair really pissed me off. I worked my ass off, didn’t cut corners. I didn’t even get Helen to carry my backpack for me for the last couple of miles. I earnt my medal. I’m sure that lady trained hard and didn’t mean to break her leg but it annoyed the crap out of me that she whizzed past me in a wheelchair as we were both about to cross the line.
Fourteen. Proper kit is everything
Two weeks before the big day, I realised I needed new trainers after a long run left me crippled. Thank Christ I got new shoes! I would hate to imagine the state of me if I had just used my old faithfuls. This post would be very different. It would probably be called “I’m a stupid bastard for not getting new trainers.” This includes a decent running watch so that you can watch your time and pace.
Fifteen. Eat all the food
With my IBS, I have a hard time trying to fuel before runs because there is a good chance it is gonna run down my leg. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t eat. I like to eat a lot the night before so that I can digest it properly and have something in me. Eat all the food. You will need it.
Sixteen. There are only so many sweets you can eat
As I ran round, people kept handing me sweets. Which was great. But after a few miles and a few hundred jelly babies, disaster struck and I was forced into a portable toilet. For the rest of the race, I stuck to water and Lucozade incase I needed the toilet again and there wasn’t one. Last thing I needed was a photo of me with the shit running down my leg or having a squat at the side of the road.
Seventeen. Bring wet wipes
Because I was at the back of the race, I got to the toilets after everyone else. There was no toilet paper. I had to use the bottle of water I was carrying to hose my ass off. Carry wet wipes when you do a marathon.
Eighteen. Carry a backpack
This is not a popular opinion within the running community but I don’t care. The simple fact is you need something to carry your crap. I had my phone and some sweets and my purse so that I could get back to the hotel. That was it. It wasn’t heavy. But it was so handy. I just wish I had packed a toilet kit and power pack for my phone with me.
Nineteen. Take in the sights
There is no harm in taking in the sights as you go around. I managed to get some beautiful pictures before my phone died. Did it slow me down? Yes. Do I regret it? Hell no! I might not get the chance to run over Tower Bridge ever again, I was making damn sure I got a photo.
Twenty. Be prepared to stop and stretch
I made sure I done plenty of stretching before and after the marathon but be prepared to stop and stretch at certain points. There is nothing wrong with it. Just make sure you are out of the way when you start to do the crab and sticking your feet behind your head.
Twenty-One. Do not put your timing chip on too tight
My husband put my timing chip on my shoe so that it didn’t fall off. It was on so tight, it left a square bruise on the top of my foot. Helen couldn’t get the bugger off my trainer as I lay and wept in the grass afterwards. Make sure it is on securely but not so secure that you can’t walk.
Twenty-Two. Do not let your family watch you
I swear, if my kids and husband had appeared at the side of the course at any point, I would have quit there and then. I told them to meet me at the finish line because I knew this about myself. Some people love it, but others like me want you at the finish line so you can trail our carcass off the track and get us home.
Twenty-Three. Distractions are useful
Do you know what I done for most of the race? Wrote my next book in my head. I thought about what I would write for this post. I watched an episode of Scandal in my head. Anything to distract me from the pain and fire in my feet.
Twenty-Four. You will hate everyone and everything
This is not the same as being a bit bitter but similar. Everything will hurt. You will hate everyone, including yourself. But a bit of self-loathing is good for you at times espcailly when you just want to get across the finish line and your damn legs won’t move any quicker.
Twenty-Five. You will realise there are no excuses
As I walked around the course, I saw old people, young people, people in costumes, people in wheelchairs, fat people, skinny people, all types of people. And every single one was doing their best. Some were really fast, some were slower than me. There will be a moment during the race that you will realise that all of the excuses that you have given yourself for not going after your dreams is complete bullshit.
Twenty-Six. You will want to do it again
As I hobbled away, I thought to myself, If I bandaged up my toes and trained a bit harder, I could take at least an hour off my time. I told Helen this and she laughed at me, I was already planning my next marathon.
And what is the .2? Faith. Have a little faith in yourself. Even just a tiny bit. You might surprise yourself with what you can do.
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