It’s hard to know where to begin as there is so much that I want to say, so much that I want to remember, and so much that I am still processing, but let me start by starting at the end…I successfully completed the 2013 Virgin London Marathon! I would like to say that I ran it but that would be using ‘run’ in its loosest possible sense. What I more accurately did was run, shuffle, walk, and hobble my way to an official finishing time of 5:50. While this isn't the time that I was hoping for, it is a time that I am happy with. For now.
I'm going to do two or three posts over the next two or three days about My First Marathon, and they're going to be quite lengthy ones. Settle back with a cup of tea, then, and read on...
THE DAYS BEFORE THE RACE:
Friday 19 April 2013:
Today I registered at the Expo for the marathon. I couldn't believe that I was there and got a bit teary as I joined the crowd of would-be marathoners walking towards the entrance. I collected my race number (19901), timing chip, and the first of a bazillion ‘good luck’ wishes that I would get over the next three days from the amazing crew who help this race to go so smoothly. Inside the Expo, I visited the Less Bounce stall; I'm a member of their Facebook Marathon group and a goody bag had been promised. Free stuff taken care of, I then began to shop. I bought a turquoise vest from Less Bounce, two pairs of purpose-made running underwear from Falke (having finally become fed up with my usual cotton pants that ride up and chafe), another version of the SpiBelt (this one with loops to hold my gels), and a pair of fluorescent pink Cep compression calf sleeves.
|Yep, this is where it hurts.|
I also visited the Rocktape clinic, on Adam's advice, looking for suggestions on how to tape my hip flexors. After a couple of questions and having me do a couple of stretches, the physio and his boss (who just happened to be passing and who just happens to be the head of the Sports Physio professional body) diagnosed an extremely tight psoas muscle as the main culprit. No point in taping it as it's too deep to respond to taping but Mr Physio and Mr Head Sports Physio thought that a Psoas Release (the less painful version) was in order. I had to strip down to my pants (the cotton, chafing, riding up ones), covered my modesty with a small towel and, to the interest and amusement of the watching crowd, Mr Physio proceeded to stretch my recalcitrant psoas. Ouch ouch ouch. I'm glad that they didn't go for the more painful version. But afterwards...I was walking without pain. None. At all. Mr Physio said that this would get me round the marathon, no problem. I could have kissed him. But I didn't.
|Push down with the right hand and push away with the left. Biiiig stretch.|
I pretty much skipped my way around the rest of the Expo, revelling in my new hip. I skipped past the KT tape stand, turned my head to watch them tape up someone's Achilles tendon, and literally skipped into Michel Roux Jr who had his head turned to watch the same thing. I smiled a 'sorry' at him before I realised who he was, and he twinkled his Michel Roux Jr smile at me to say 'sorry' back, and we went our separate ways. I could have kissed him too. But I didn't.
|I'm siiiiingin' in the rain...|
I made it back to the hotel without spending any more money but also, unfortunately, without my specs which I lost somewhere in the vast Expo hall. This was especially unfortunate as Bassman and I were going to the theatre that night to see Singin' in the Rain and the world gets blurry beyond the end of my arm without my specs. My trusty prescription sunglasses had to be pressed into service and, between them and a £1 pair of rented binoculars, I could see the action on stage with the added benefit of feeling like a celeb as I sat with sunglasses on in the dark. The show was amazing and was the perfect distraction from pre-marathon nerves. And I bought a Singin' in the Rain umbrella as a souvenir. Happy happy happy!
Saturday 20 April 2013:
We were up early, as we had a 10am walking tour of the finish line and associated areas to go to. The tour took about an hour and a half and my hip held up well. No pain, just some residual stiffness. Lunch was at Pizza Express for my traditional pre-long run pizza. Then we went back to the hotel where Bassman watched with bemusement as I dithered over which compression tights to wear for the race. I had three pairs to choose from, all of which fit slightly differently from each other, and choosing the wrong ones could result in major discomfort during the race. Bassman suggested that I was using this as a displacement activity for my nerves; he might say that, but I couldn't possibly comment.
Our friends Cathy and Paul met us at the hotel for tea and cake at 4pm and we had a look at the photobook that they had done of their recent trip to Venice. Gorgeous, just gorgeous...and there's a marathon there too...Cathy and Paul both are runners, with Paul having run vast numbers of marathons including multiple London marathons, so there was lots of talk about running. And about nerves. And much sharing of information by Paul about what to expect before and during the race. I went off at 5pm to a Marathon Q&A session that was being put on by the hotel, which didn't really tell me anything that I didn't already know from Paul although they did hand out some big green bin bags for the next day, and it was another useful distraction from pre-marathon nerves. We then met up with Cathy and Paul again for dinner at a fab Vietnamese restaurant, where I had a big bowl of glass noodles, tofu, and veg with a peanut sauce. Majorly yummy!
And then home for an early night and to try to sleep, in preparation for the Big Day.