Thursday, 30 April 2009

Wrap Up!

In the words of Hiro from Heroes, "Yattaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!" - or rather, "I DID IT!"

In just 12 months I've gone from 2 flights of stairs to 26.2 miles (42km)! It's still a bit surreal that I've run a marathon, but Sunday, 26th April I completed the London Marathon, all 42 kilometres of it. I'll start off with a quick summary for those with less time / patience, after which I'll give a step-by-painful-step break down of the run.

In summary, it was an absolutely amazing experience! It was one of the most painful yet rewarding things I've ever done. It only took about 8 minutes to cross the start line, then 4 hours and 52 minutes to cross the finish line... I was hoping to 4 hours 30 minutes, but a combination of very hot weather and underestimating just how difficult the last 6.2 miles would be led to the extra 20 minutes. Still, am very happy with my time and amazed that I've achieved something I've always wanted to do but never thought I would! If you've never done a marathon, doing one of the big ones is well worth it - the crowds from start to finish were amazing.

Now that the summary without any detail is done, here's the detail...

It was a superb day. 3 days before the weather forecast was heavy rain and showers, but 3 days and many prayers later and it was blue skies and not a rain drop in sight! I started off in Greenwich Park with my entourage - Mel, Mel's folks and Chris (trusty running partner in crime!). It was a great buzz walking to the start line, seeing thousands upon thousands of runners, most in normal running gear, some in costume, some dressed as Elvis, some as donkeys carrying sacks on their backs...madness!!

For the first 5km we ran through Charlton and from the start line it was literally lined with families on both sides of the road! I spent most of the time on the edges high fiving all the kids as I ran past which was great fun - such a great atmosphere. This also led to me being unaware of my time and when I reached Greenwich I was about 9 minutes ahead of schedule.

Fortunately Mel and her mum saw me and yelled out - what a great idea that they wave Aussie flags as there's no way I would miss an Aussie flag in the crowds. I ran past them and was really happy to see them, then a few steps on I heard Chris shout out. I'm sure she was on top of a wall of something as she was above the crowds. A short way on was Mel's dad, but he had no idea I was there. I yelled out "dad" a couple of times, but to no avail. So I shouted out "Peter" and that got his attention!!

Forgot to mention, through Charlton there were 2 priests outside the Catholic churches blessing the runners with holy water as we ran past! At least I'd hoped it was a blessing and not our last rites... :o)

The crowds never thinned from Greenwich, although the high fives became less by the time we got to Tower Bridge. Once on the bridge I passed a guy that turned 18 that day (it was on his shirt) and he didn't look like he was enjoying his birthday... I wished him Happy Birthday as I went past, and without looking up he painfully muttered out a thanks.

After Tower Bridge I started running down Commercial Road towards Canary Wharf. I was feeling reasonably good at this point, although I was eating into the time I'd made up at the beginning. I knew Anita & Tara would be here somewhere, but had given up trying to look out for them when I heard the crazy girls screaming out!! They were on the other side of the road and I contemplated running over to them, but there was a barrier in the way, so a wave and a cheer and on I went. As I rounded the bend into Narrow Street I was surprised to see Mel and her mum, a mile early! They saw me and yelled out and was a good boost as I was starting to get a little tired - this was past the 14 mile mark. A few metres on I saw Tony, so was feeling in good spirits. Having run Narrow Street quite a few times it was a good section of the run, especially when Suzy & Pete started shouting out my name out of nowhere!! Was such a surprise to see them and almost ran over to them, but Pete just shouted at me to keep going! :o) Coming into Westferry was another great moment when I saw Chris and Mel's dad again - again, couldn't miss Chris' shout! And then around the bend there were Caroline, Ruth & Alex!! Awesome stuff!! Feeling good, a good buzz and energised to keep going - no thoughts of walking at this stage!!

Going down Westferry Road was kind of surreal - not only is it where I live, but the crowds had a real vibe about them. It was less of a family affair, but more of a party town with loads of balconies with people having dressed up and cheering us all on. It was at this point I saw in the corner of my eye these 2 crazy girls jumping up and down and calling out my name! then I realised it was Rach and Winnie!! :o) I then turned down Eastferry Road and there was Susanne, our neighbour, who belted out a loud "GO CLAYTS" as I ran past! Awesome stuff!! Ran past our local ASDA supermarket and the 17 mile marker and this was where I was starting to feel a quite tired. At the next water stop, around 17.5 miles into it, I succumbed and had to do my first walk... Boo... But I only walked for 100m and then picked up my legs again and on I went into Canary Wharf, where I saw Mel, her mum & dad, Chris, Anita, Tara, Becca & Mark. Being the charming gentleman that I am I thought it only polite to stop and say hi, give Mel a quick kiss, grab a fun size mars bar and some jelly babies and off I went went again. Mel said in a text to a Katy that "I was doing well, although the smile wasn't as big anymore..." Fairly accurate description.

It was great running through Canary Wharf, which I'd done countless times but never to such big crowds, and there again were Suzy & Pete yelling out at the top of their lungs!!

After Canary Wharf I looped back through Poplar, where I really started to feel tired. This was about the 19 mile mark and again I succumbed and walked for another 100m - no mind games could keep me going at this point. Nearly clearing Poplar I saw Caroline again and caught a quick breather. Caroline informed me that a lot of people are quite sweaty and smelly as they run past, which I agreed with completely, having been overtaken by the same sweaty, smelly people... ;o) Break over, picked up my aching legs and on I went back onto Commercial Road and on towards Tower Bridge. Shortly before Limehouse I also heard a huge "GO CLAYTON YOU LEGEND!" as I ran past Ruth Guthrie!! You rock Ruth!! Somewhere along here I also saw Caroline, Alex & Ruth again, but I can't recall exactly where. All I know is how much I appreciated seeing so many friends along the way - even if it was the same friends over and over again some of the time!!

There's not a lot to write about the next couple of miles. The crowds were awesome, calling your name out, the odd high 5, but I was really in a whole new world of hurt at this stage. My feet were killing me, my calves really tired, my knees sore, my thighs tired and my back was starting to get sore as well... It was all I could do just to keep my legs moving forward. After Tower of London and heading down to the Embankment I took another breather and walked a couple hundred metres. I was tempted to walk more, but knew if I did I might not start up again!

Running along the Embankment was painfully great! The crowds really started to grow again as many of the charity support crews had their main cheer squads along here. I kept looking out for the Crisis cheer squad, but never saw them... In a daze I heard my name yelled out and there were Rox & Dan! I stopped for a few seconds to say hi, just because I'm so nice, not because I needed to rest... I then plodded my way with what was to be the longest 2 miles of my life! I think I saw Chris again at this point, but I can't quite remember... I also saw Ben at one point, but again, can't remember where! It was all a bit of a blur by this point...
Coming around Houses of Parliament there were all the Tamil protesters screaming out their chants. I couldn't really understand them, but I think it was along the lines of "Come on Clayts, you can do it!". From there we rounded the bend towards Buckingham Palace, where I saw everyone again - Mel, her folks, Anita, Thierry & Astrid, the Queen... I gave them a wave and then turned to run in the final 150 metres. In my dreams this was always when I pick up my pace and catch the guy in front and win the gold medal in the Olympics. Today though, I was content to just finish the marathon running, no matter how slowly.

Marathon over, 4:52:22.

NEVER AGAIN!!!!!!!!!

Although... :o)

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