Sunday, 1 January 2017

That There London...

April 2016 brings the London Marathon.
Before we visit London we need to visit the Devon coastline, however.

Neil - not looking enthusiastic
Picture a group of runners who think that they've done some hills because they've run in Dorset, and are about to get a bit of a shock. A bleak seafront in Exmouth, and a freezing cold coastal wind, and we're off on the Exe to Axe 20 (ish) mile coastal path race.

I suppose the small fact that this race is registered as a fell category race should have given something away but we were not fully prepared for the steepness of the hills that were in store for us.
Me, Neil and Jenny had spotted that there were some pretty serious looking runners on the start line, this also should have been a big clue!

half a km in and we are already going up, as we head off for Budleigh Salterton. In fact the section from Budleigh to Ladram bay (a distance of around 8km) turned out to be the 'flattest', only reaching 42m elevation in height but once we were past the holiday camp and headed for the aptly named 'high peak' it seemed that the terrain was only going either UP or DOWN and quite steeply at that, and nothing in between!

it was pretty much like this and steeper the whole way!
Total elevation was 1256m in the end, a lot of that crammed into the second half.

Having reached the halfway point around Sidmouth, we were told that we had just done the 'easy half' and we had the worst to come, a fact which Jenny was none too pleased to hear as the furthest she had run prior to this was about 14 miles, and she was fast running out of oomph, a fact that became apparent upon hitting approx 15 miles and we came to a grinding halt while she contemplated the meaning of life and whether in fact she was going to carry on. Top marks to Jenny though as she battled the demons and got going again, assisted by the dry wit and spare sports drink of the sweeper, Danny, who had caught us up by that point (we werent the slowest up till then, but a few people had dropped out).
He conjured up such gems as 'Are you looking for sympathy? If so i'll send out and see if we can get some brought in'. He was brilliant!

We finally overtook the last runner in the last couple of km (thus giving Danny the slip) and headed thankfully for the finish line on Seaton Seafront

it was all a bit emotional for some, well done Jenny!
Last long run over with, it was time to look forward to that there London, and start to taper training. We also had some birthdays to celebrate.
Each year we have a joint birthday party for myself, Kev, and my 2 daughters Stephanie and Hazel as all our birthdays are within a few weeks of each other. Coined by a friend of mine, its entitled P.O.T.Y or Party of the Year! and its always fancy dress.
This years theme was book characters. Kevin and I were dressed as Sam Vimes and Lady Sybil from Terry Pratchett's 'Guards, Guards'. I had the maddest red wig on!
I had promised a unicorn birthday cake to Steph so this is what I came up with

looking like a good party!
So, to Londinium. Saturday 23rd April
Thanks to my work having a Premier Inn account I had managed to book a room right inbetween the London Eye and Waterloo train station. I was due to meet some friends who were also running the marathon the next day, and join them along the south bank for a meal.
Eve was going to be running her first marathon at London and Graham her husband was supporting, and Steve was also running.
I had a lovely walk along the south bank, and took some great pictures, here are a couple of my favourites.

Forward to the next day we're up bright and early. I'm feeling nervous. My aim is to start and finish feeling OK. In addition to that I have decided it will be a bonus if i finish in under 5 hours.
Its flipping freezing, and I cant remember the start we were on but its a long wait on a drafty field, and we are struggling to keep warm. Steve is resplendent in green mohican wig, and union jack running tights and is living up to his nickname of 'media whore' because in the first 10 minutes of arriving on the start field he has managed to get himself interviewed and also for some reason japanese runners are keen to have their pictures taken with him! I have a dilemma about what to carry and wear. for some reason I dont want to wear the waist pack i bought with me so stuff gels in my pocket.
We start slowly, running together. Im eventually starting to warm up. We see Graham at a few points and he kindly takes my longsleeved top from me.

Waving to Graham, and Steve in his outfit!

Me and Eve have to stop for the loo at 8 miles and we tell Steve to go on, but he waits for us.
Just over halfway, Eve is struggling with an old injury, and Steve says he will stay with her, but they both urge me to go on. Im torn between staying with friends and running my best time, and it takes me a mile to leave them, feeling very guilty as I do so.
However, I manage to keep a decent pace up (for me anyway) and at around 21 - 22 miles I see all the nifty nanas and support crew at the side of the road, and so i stop for a quick chat and it really gives me a boost.
Weirdly just before Birdcage Walk, I suddenly think about my mum, and I think 'this is for you mum' and then im so choked up I cant breathe and am gasping like I have asthma, and have to walk for a little while.
Turning into the Mall though i suddenly realise 5 hours is fast approaching and I manage to pick it up and get to the finish in 4:59:29! Phew, half a minute to go, but I am ecstatic because i have finally broken 5 hours :-) Unbeknown to me my friend Luretta is in the stands and has managed to spot me among 1000's and take a picture!

I didnt realise though how horrible it would be finishing such a big event with no-one I knew to greet me after the medal/bag collection etc.
Bit sad really.
I had arranged to meet the others in a specific place, but i couldnt see anyone, and was quickly getting cold, so decided i needed to get changed. Having looked at the crowd between me and the changing tents, and not be able to cope with any more jostling, I snuck into a little quiet area between the corner of the first aid tent and a wall, and proceeded with the kind of changing routine you do at the beach under a towel. Luckily the surrounding area was so busy no one really took any notice!
Then i made my way over to the meeting areas again just in time to see the others arrive.
After many mutual pats on the back, we made our way out of the crowd and headed off to the underground station to start making our way to Graham and Eve's car and then home.
I was nice to get driven home and not have to take the train!

I'll finish on that happy note.
May brings a 36 mile ultra.....yep thats it, what more do you want?

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