Aka the time I ran the London Marathon with my fiancé, Tom.
I deferred my London entry from last year after getting injured so knew I was running the London Marathon 2017, but Tom was also really keen to run. (I know, I was shocked at first too). However, whilst my first goal was to run a PB in London, after getting a place with Adidas to run Boston, I knew that would become my goal race, and that I would run London for fun with Tom. And I don’t regret that choice for a second, even though I missed my PB by a solid 11 mins in Boston.
Huge thanks to ProDirect Running for giving Tom a place so that we could run together.
We were put up at the Holiday Inn, Regent’s Park on the Saturday evening to avoid an early start and long trip into London before the race. I tossed and turned all night, worrying that we’d missed our alarm and therefore the whole race… I wasn’t even that nervous before Boston!
The Holiday Inn had put on coaches to take us safely to the start and provided an early breakfast however in my panic I had mis-read our 7.15am bus for 7.30am, so we had a rather swift marmite on toast and coffee. There were plenty of bananas at breakfast but I was disappointed there wasn’t any peanut butter or almond butter!
We arrived super early at the race village and met up with Dan from ProDirect, and I managed to join them in the Red race village. They were giving out cups of tea to help keep us warm (and get things moving if you hadn’t managed to do your pre-race business). Having had experience of the very long loo queues in 2012, we joined them with plenty of time and was pleasantly surprised by how clean they still were.
My friend Loz was also in the red start and we found her in another queue (I went for another wee), dropped our bags off and headed for the corrals. I’ve heard a lot of people saying that the race corrals were really strict but I was allowed in to the red village despite showing my blue bib, and didn’t have my bib checked on the way into the corral however I was starting further back than I was supposed to so maybe they wouldn’t have minded anyway. We made a last minute dash out to use the loo again before crossing the start line…
12 minutes after the first gun, we were off.
I hadn’t run AT ALL since Boston, and although I knew the pace would be fine in terms of cardio fitness, I just didn’t know how my legs and feet would hold up.
It was crowded right from the get go and I was glad I wasn’t trying to find Tom in the crowd. The three of us stayed together, chatting, smiling and feeling amazing to be running another marathon.
Miles 1 -6: 9.36, 9.12, 9.05, 9.15, 9.47, 9.49
Just after the 6 mile marker we lost Loz (who admitted she hadn’t done enough training and our pace was a little fast for her). We also ran past the first major landmark, the Cutty Sark. This was being renovated when I ran it a few years ago so it was nice to see it in all its glory.
Miles 7-9 9.58, 9.30, 9.36 We spotted our friend’s Keogh and Sophie cheering their heads off here. I know this year had the highest number of runners, but I think it might have been a record number of spectators too. There was almost no point along the way without crowd support which always helps spur you along.
Mile 10 – 9.59 -> Tom’s first loo stop
Mile 11-14 – 9.30, 9.36, 9.44, 9.37 going over Tower Bridge into central London. A lovely lady came up to me and told me she loved my blog (we then saw her again at the finish and had her snap this photo!) Well done Carolyn for smashing your first marathon!
This part of the course is incredible, the crowds are going wild and the atmosphere is electric. Tower Bridge is such an iconic part of the race… however then you turn right and see all those super speedy runners who are 7 miles ahead of you. They are nearly done whilst you have arguably some of the toughest miles of the course still to go. You’re only halfway done whilst they’re speeding to the finish.
Luckily the crowd support is still pretty epic along here as it allows you to spot your runners twice, and we managed to see my friend Stu and his girlfriend Natalie along here. I was feeling amazing, and just thought of it as the turnaround point to head for home.
Mile 15- 12.30 -> Second loo break for Tom. There was a bit of a queue for the loos and I got very irritated with the spectators using them. But they were at least still fairly clean.
Miles 16-19 9.26, 9.43, 9.39, 9.16 – Running through Canary Wharf is notoriously quiet, however I think it actually had a great atmosphere this year. I saw a girl from school, and my friend’s Frithers and Charlotte, and enjoyed the feeling knowing that we were on our way back to the Mall. There was a moment where I stepped on a discarded water bottle in the middle of the road (grrr) and thought I’d twisted my ankle and my race might be over. I told Tom I would try to run it off and crossed my fingers, hoping for the best. Luckily it was OK within a few minutes and we continued onwards.
Mile 20 – 10.59 – > ANOTHER LOO BREAK. I felt really annoyed until I realised that this wasn’t my race. It was Tom’s race and if he needed the loo, then he needed the loo. So I calmly stretched while he used the urinal and we continued on our way. I knew we had a good buffer of time to make it sub 4.30!
Miles 21 – 23- 10.03, 10.03, 10.24 -> saw Tom’s parents and gave them a massive hug. So glad we spotted them in the crowd. I missed having my Mum and stepdad on the course so having my in-laws was the next best thing. I also saw lots of friends including Phil, Anna and Billie along this stretch, which made me so happy. I loved the crowds in Boston and having Zoe there helped so much, but there’s something about having multiple people you know dotted along the race course that makes this so special.
Mile 24-26 – 9.54, 10.10, 9.43 So excited to be nearly done, although a little sad that it was nearly over. The crowds go wild along this stretch, and with Big Ben looming in the distance you know you’re close. I ran along the side soaking up the cheers and grinning my head off.
0.2 (actually ended up being an extra 0.65!) 2.24 – 9.15 pace We spotted our friend Nick cheering with the Cystic Fibrosis team and Tom nearly stacked it after their high five. Tom grabbed my hand as we made it down the final stretch and I literally beamed from ear to ear. Although this race hurt may quads almost from the offset, I was never out of breath, never hit the wall and never stopped smiling.
There are three finish areas, and the middle one is the busiest. Since I didn’t want anyone else in our finishers photo, I veered to the left only to realise that Prince Harry, Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge were right there cheering on the runners. We got right up close and thanked them, pointing to our headbands (the Heads Together charity they are involved in). I wish now that I had taken a selfie with them like Kelly did, but I was too focused on the finish line by that point.
4.22.28 – a 22 minute PB for Tom and my eighth marathon.
I needed London to reaffirm how much I love running and really do love the marathon distance. Whilst I’m proud of my Boston finish, it hurt. This race was just pure fun from start to finish and I loved running with Tom. Whilst we didn’t run stride for stride the whole way, we kept in each others eyeline, helped each other with water and kept on track. I think I’m better at seeing people along the way so I pointed out friends in the crowd too.
I held my tongue from asking if he was doing OK as I know that drives him mad when I do it on training runs! His only complaint was that I didn’t run at a consistent pace – although I think our mile splits are fairly even, however the overcrowding on the course made it very difficult to run at a steady pace with all the weaving.
Well done to everyone that ran the London Marathon on Sunday, from the super speedy runners to those that finished their first ever race. I really loved running without having to push myself to a PB – I think more fun marathons may be in my future, however I still can’t let go of my BQ quest! I’m just too competitive!
I made a little video about our race day – would love if you watched it and subscribed to my Youtube channel. Would love to hit 500 subscribers!
Photos are downloaded from the official photos – waiting for their high res versions to be available! Other pics I took along the course or friends sent post race.