So it's done. And it was brilliant.
I don't know where to start.
In a nutshell:
- I did 4 hours and 8 minutes and loved it.
- Rory did 4 and a half hours, and enjoyed it but was a bit injured.
- John did 4 and a half hours (and one second) and didn't enjoy it, and is still feeling it.
The marathon itself, for me, was about 90% fun and enjoyment, 9% physical, mental pain and determination and about 1% welling up and tears. We all set off together with the 4 hour pacesetters, but had agreed to run together as long as we could and then to split up if we needed to. I always run better with people so was hoping we could stick together as long as possible.
We got to the half marathon point and I think we all felt pretty good. We slipped a little behind the pacesetters for 4 hours, but only by a minute or so. At this point a big mistake was nearly made, and it was my fault. We saw the people with the 4 hour balloons walking along the side of the road. Getting my calculations wrong I thought they were ahead of time and just having a breather and suggested to the lads that we should join them... Of course they'd swapped runners to a new set of people. I'm glad I noticed this quickly...
At about 22km John dropped off a bit and that was the last I saw of him until he was back in the hotel room. Rory and me carried on until about 30km but his ankle and knee really started giving him some pain so after stopping a few times with him he also dropped off a bit. At this point I had a decision to make about whether to stay with Rory and run/ walk together or whether to do the selfish thing and run off alone. I chose the latter. I felt pretty fresh, but was mindful of the fact that I'm a better runner with a partner.
I can't remember how long I was running alone for, but it felt like an age. Every voice I could hear behind me was John's or Rory's and I had the fear that they'd catch me up. This wouldn't have bothered me per se, but I know that I would never have lived it down. This, and thinking about the sponsorship kept me going. From 36km to 40km it was a real battle. I must have hit that wall people talk about because I couldn't mentally convince myself that what I was doing was possible and once or twice I did walk for a minute or so. My legs just couldn't run.
What happened after the 40km marker was great, though. The crowds were getting busier and rowdier, and there was a real feeling that I could actually do it. And not only do it, but get a decent time. I had envisaged 5 hours, so being stuck somewhere between the 4:00 and 4:15 pacesetters was a great feeling. For the last 2km my pace returned to my normal pace, and for the last 500m or so I literally sprinted as fast as I could to the finishing line.
Crossing the line was a strange feeling. It was euphoria mixed with anticlimax in a way. I was so happy that I'd managed to do it, and enjoyed it, but also you've been telling your body for so long to run that when you tell it to stop it sort of doesn't want to. I know John said he didn't feel any real thrill when he finished, but I certainly did I must admit. My sponsorship is over £700 at the moment and I felt happy for the people that had faith in me and for the reasons I chose the British Heart Foundation. A slow, aching walk back to the hotel and within half an hour or so the lads were back and we were chatting about it.
So what next? Well, for me definitely more running. I've enjoyed being fitter, losing a bit of weight and raising some money for a good cause. I think Rory feels the same. John didn't get the same buzz he did after the Deerstalker, and has been feeling the ill effects of his lack of training regime. He had to fly home early due to injury and I don't think he's too keen to repeat the marathon. I think maybe the lack of buzz is due to the lack of training. Part of my buzz at the end was knowing that I could do a marathon and knowing that the time I achieved was down to training. More than that though was actually enjoying doing it. And I did. Loads.
It set up my trip around Europe with a great start. I'll be posting more about that in due course. Thanks to everyone who has sponsored me, and to those that haven't - you still can!