One year ago yesterday I ran (shuffled) the London Marathon. It was a great experience, however there are some things you might not know. Here are a few of them mixed with some invaluable tips.
- Stay over, for God’s sake stay over
Immediately after the Marathon was complete, there was an hour’s journey on the tube, overground and on foot to reach our hotel in Greenwich. We decided to stay over the night before, but I would recommend anyone to extend that stay to the night after as well. I, however, was in the back of the car with my Mum and Dad for 5 hours. Straight to bed, work the next day. Ouch.
- Beware of the sticky floors
After every gel station, people just discard the empty sachets meaning that the sugary liquid gets splattered all over the road and all you can hear is the sound of trainers being peeled off the tarmac as your feet get stuck to the floor.
- Beware of the waterbottles
After the first few water stations, people take one sip, then discard their bottles. These are in places really dangerous, there can be hundreds to dodge. Stand on one and you’re buggered.
- The wall of sound
The one thing that I didn’t account for is the noise. The crowd are brilliant, they really are and I know that they just want to help you all cross that line… Personally however I found the constant noise quite overbearing towards the end. It is literally from start to finish. I should have stuck to my original plan of listening to music for the first twenty miles and let the crowd pull me over the line for the last six.
- The Finish
Anti-climax is the only word I can use to describe the end of the London Marathon. 26.2 miles, physically the hardest thing I’ve ever done, the emotions, the endurance and then bang… You’re done… Your legs don’t want to talk to you, they slap a medal around your neck, give you a bag full of promotional items, give you your possessions back and that’s it. Move along please. Where is the fanfare, where’s the party at? All that’s left to do is make your way home.
- Welcome distractions
Around mile 16 is where I started to question whether I could complete one of the world’s most famous marathons. I was tired, starting to slow a little and needed something to take my mind off the next 10 miles. I heard some of the crowd shouting ‘Come on Chris, Come on Chris’ and when I looked to my right, Chris Evans was running right beside me. I used to love watching Chris on TV, I was brought up with the Big Breakfast, TFI Friday and Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush and still listen to him every morning on the radio. However I couldn’t recall him talking about doing the marathon on his show? As it turned out he had been training in secret and talked about it a lot the days after the marathon and it was great to listen to someone who had been on the same journey as myself. Running next to him, watching the crowd’s reaction to him kept my mind occupied for the next 4 miles. I’m not sure what would have happened if that distraction wasn’t there.
- Water your legs!
The single best tip I got for the marathon was from a colleague at work, Andrew McCarthy. He told me after every water station, drink half the water, and pour the other half on the back of your legs. What a great tip. It seems to not only cool the whole of your body down, but gives your legs a new lease of life.
I had arranged to see my Auntie, Uncle, Cousin and her husband and daughters Molly and Gemma, my Mum and Dad, Wife Michelle and most importantly my son Owen at Mile 13…I was still feeling quite good when I saw them and it was such a boost to see them all. I gave my son a cuddle, kissed my wife and I was on my way, but it was amazing to see a familiar face. I was lucky enough to be able to get them all tickets as well in the grand stand on the Mall at the end of the race, 26 miles in. Running past Buckingham Palace, the sight of my family was too much and I’m not afraid to say I shed a tear.
- Follow the blue line
There is a blue line printed on the road that indicates the shortest route. This was my saving grace through the last six miles. Surrounded by beautiful architecture, wonderful views of the Thames all I could do was focus on my friend The Blue Line.
- Decide on a pose
This is key. There are hundreds of photographers along the course and these days you can view and download your images a few days later. Your finish line pose is key, how do you want to look back on your experience? I went for the classic hands in the air and was lucky the photographer got the Union Jack in the background. It just makes it for me. At the time I was just pleased to finish, but looking back now, I am extremely proud of what I’d achieved that day, grateful to all the friends, family and clients that sponsored me and privileged to share the day with my wonderful family.