I DID IT!!!!
Yep, I managed to hold myself together and not only complete the 2015 Virgin London Marathon…but dare I say it..actually enjoyed it!!!
I came in at a pretty respectable official time of 5:04:29 (my own watch reading 4:59:23).
I have memories that will simply last a lifetime, and I have been re-living the event over and over again in my mind, scared to let them go. The sheer volume of runners and spectators is quite overwhelming, as is the crowd noise. I am sure I was deaf before I even got the two mile point.
I have never had so many people screeching my name – not calling – I mean full on screaming. It felt unreal. We passed every shape and size of humanity, along with blind and deaf runners, amputees, those actually with cancer (carrying their drips on their back), and every possible combination of fancy dress. Rhino’s, dinosaurs, a chicken, an emu, a giraffe and a guy with a cross on his back looking like Jesus running in nothing but a loincloth and barefoot! I congratulated a four man bob sled team who were running in their sledge, a lady in a womble costume, a couple tied up three-legged and guy in a phonebox. And you think I am mad???? Think again people!
When I say ‘we’ – I mean myself and another lady. We met at the start, both shivering in our uniform black bin bags (never underestimate the warming power of a bin bag I can tell you!). We politely exchanged hello’s and good luck’s at the start, and of course as you are hemmed in like sheep in a pen, we carried on chatting. It transpired she had only turned 18 years old a couple of weeks earlier and this was her first ever official race. (she had run before though!) Allie told me that she wanted to try and keep to an 11 min mile pace, which suited me too, so I suggested if she wanted we could do the first three miles together till we warmed up then naturally split off as and when. Perfect, we both agreed.
The next think you know we are at the Cutty Sark (6 miles) and chatting like old friends. We were laughing and smiling and having a really great time! Every time we spotted someone in a costume, we set ourselves a target of getting level with them and taking a selfie. Still sticking to pace we slowed on occasion when passing bands (amazing how fast you pick up a pace to bagpipes/steel drums and a salsa troupe!)
Time just flew drinking in all the spectators signs, points of interest and chatting with other runners. Almost blinked and missed mile 12, and the next thing you know we are on the spot out for my running club buddies who were pitching up at 12 1/2 miles. Managed to get a lot of high five’s in from the Green Army as we passed them and Jit had also joined them at this point to so he was trying to keep up alongside to get some photos.
Halfway point came and went and it was total joy! We managed to spot Allie’s parents too on Tower Bridge so she was very excited. More selfies with costumes followed, as did spectator offerings of Jaffa cakes, fruit skewers, jelly babies, jelly beans, orange segments and even doughnuts!!! I have never seen so many people in my life standing 5 or 6 deep on pavements calling out and clapping every single runner as they passed. Half of London must now be lined up in Boots the chemist buying throat sweets.
Mile, 16, 17, 18, 19 just pinged by – we saw famous buildings from every angle and passed the Tower of London at least three times. Jit’s relatives whom we had dinner with the night before even managed to spot me and wave and clap – no mean feat I can tell you. What made me day though was a barrage of ‘Jenny, Jenny, JENNY’ at some point at mile 20. I looked over and saw a old work colleague I hadn’t seen for 11 years smiling and shouting – that was a shock! My feet kept running though despite the desire to run over and grab a hug, so I shall have to email her later to organise a proper meet up!
Mile 22 saw a lot of people struggling, but the crowds building again and the anticipation of the final stretch just took us over in a wave. Allie and I were still together and at this point joking we now couldn’t run away from each other even if we tried! Legs were feeling tired and Allie’s knee was starting to give her pain. We slowed down and took it a bit easier and regained a bit of composure. So far, yet still we had to go on.
We spotted Allie’s parents again just before we entered the last tunnel before coming on the Embankment (Mile 24) so that boosted us both, but coming out of the tunnel, my own legs turned to steel. I urged Allie to carry on as I didn’t want to hold her back, so for the first time in the whole run, I had to walk for about 200 metres. Gutted, but there was no way I could run. Once I got level though and spotted Big Ben, I started up again. My thighs were literally on fire and I very slowly plodded on. That last 2 miles were the toughest ever. I turned at Big Ben to hear a ‘We love you Jenny Wallis’ booming out of a loudhailer. A splinter group from the running club had made it to this point and were frantically egging me on. Not sure I smiled, but I waved in acknowledgment… then the Mall. It was like the widest path to hell! I could see the famous red spectator stands either side of me, but I had my head down – one step, one step…The red line was within my sights, but a sprint finish eluded me. Feet planted on the carpet…I am OVER! That was it. I had actually shifted my body round 26.2 miles of pavement around one of the World’s favourite capital cities. Bloody hell!
I want to say a massive yes MASSIVE thank you to everyone who has called/texted/emailed and supported me in whatever form. I am still trying to get replied to everyone so please be patient. A total amount of £500 is now winging its way to Plan International and I am sure some of it will be directed straight away to the spiralling situation in Nepal. I CANNOT THANK YOU ALL ENOUGH. I simply ran – you believed in me to achieve something – and that is more humbling than anything else.
You know I said never again…this is a one off…not a chance….hmmm……I will keep you posted! OCD me can’t rest at 5:04….I will just have to try and get under that!
I am a Virgin Marathoner no longer!