London Marathon 2013 – A personal perspective
Having, perhaps foolishly, agreed to run my first ever marathon this year, I wasn’t sure what to expect on the day. Having previously attended the marathon, I was well aware of the size and volume of the crowd, their cheers and cries for the runners. But standing on the sidelines is nothing to being on the road, running past all those people, whose generosity of spirit and kindness was overwhelming and I cannot thank them enough for that.
The day is a long one, for me starting at 5:45 with a quick breakfast and getting out of the door far too early for a Sunday morning. With frost on the cars and a chill in the air, I was expecting a bright but cool day, what I hoped would be ideal conditions to run in.
The spirit and camaraderie hit me as soon as I got to the train station and was surrounded by runners and their supporters, all a little bleary eyed and half asleep but the excitement and tension was palpable. People were speaking in slightly hushed tones, water was being swigged from bottles and carbs were being furiously consumed, trying to get that extra bit of energy for the race.
You would catch the eye of a fellow runner, someone completely unknown to you and you would just nod and say good luck, as you knew nothing else was necessary. The start area was vast, sprawling and resembled a festival; massive queues for the toilets, groups wandering around chatting animatedly, voracious amounts of drink being consumed and every so often some music would break through and catch your ear. The race was preceded by a minutes silence for those that were killed or injured in the Boston Marathon bombings. It was impeccably observed.
The race begins at 10am, but not for everyone. It took me about 25 minutes to actually cross the start and begin running. Those 25 minutes only served to build the pressure and nerves even further and it was a relief to begin running.
All went well for the first few miles; the weather was fine, bright and not too hot. I got through the first few miles, picked up water and was making good progress and keeping up with my training pace. Perhaps this was my mistake, running in warmer conditions that I am used to, I should have slowed my pace, but adrenalin and naivety took over and I felt good. By 10 miles I had had to start walking every so often and by 15 miles I could only walk. Each time I ran it would take only a few yards for the pain to increase and the pace to slow so that walking became a relief. But I was determined to finish even though I had another 11 miles ahead of me I felt I could do it. By mile 20 I was struggling, my feet were screaming with pain, my muscles were tight and my energy was at rock bottom. But it wasn’t my resolve or the finish line inching closer that got me through, it was the people of all ages who stood along the course that got me home.
I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for all those people, handing out sweets and chocolates and fruits or simply their best wishes, the children smiling and holding out their hands for a high-five or the cheers and shouts of encouragement and belief I would not made it all the way to The Mall to collect my medal and finally stop moving.
Would I race again? Possibly. Was the day a fantastic experience? Absolutely. The London Marathon is a great day and a wonderful event, bringing together people from all over the country and around the world. I would never discourage anyone from taking part as it will be well worth it but you cannot underestimate how much work and effort you need to put in.
This article features in the current edition of Dyslexia Contact magazine. The magazine is available to members 3 times a year. For more information, go to our website, www.bdadyslexia.org.uk.