At the half way point crossing Tower Bridge I was struggling to keep up with Paul and he was struggling to stay slow for me. We agreed he should head off and I was all alone with another 3,000 people around me!!!
At 17 miles I hit the “wall”. Having previously run 16 mile races and told that that’s far enough to train for a marathon, they were wrong! The wall is a strange thing. After feeling good and strong up to that point at the pace I was keeping, the “wall” just hits you. It feels like getting the flu. Suddenly every muscle is heavy and your head is fuzzy and you just want to stop running. But this is the London Marathon and I had thousands of pounds in charity money to raise. The “wall” was not going to beat me.
At this time I’d actually passed a few celebs including Steve Ryder and The Capital radio DJ Dr Fox, although that shouldn’t count as he was doing his radio show whilst he was running the marathon. Had to feel sorry for his two support crew though as they were running with the radio transmitters on their back!!
So as the ‘wall’ hit I was lucky enough to be running alongside a group of runners from the police force. They were dressed in uniform but with shorts and trainers and carried their trungeons. What the police were great at was working as a team and motivating each other. A different copper from the group would lead for a mile and then they’d change lead and motivate the team. They could see I was struggling and were kind enough to keep me motivated with them. Wall, what wall?
At this point of the race we were in Docklands and the crowds had thinned out and there were large groups of spectators at the pubs. It was comical to see the crowds reactions to the police. Even though always good spirited, in the docks the crowd would scream, “Fuck it’s the pigs, wankers”. When we got back in to the square mile the crowd would shout “Oh, look it’s the police, keep going, ha-ra”. Gotta love the class system.
So the police carried me through the last 3rd and I’ll be forever grateful for that. So came the last mile. It’s amazing how the wall disappears when the end is in sight, tens of thousands of people cheering you on. In that last mile I got my second wind and ran past Frank Bruno who had cramped up and was dragging his leg. I was starting to pace out and felt great only to be deflated by a sprinting Teletubbie. To this day I couldn’t tell you if it was Tinky-Winky or Po but it’s become ingrained in my psyche ever since. I’d never live it down I tried to sprint to keep up but my legs would not go any faster. That was one fit bastard in that suit.
Finally I crossed the line. 4hrs 55mins! Didn’t quite hit my target time but I was bloody ecstatic that I’d finished. One of my great achievement of life. My hat goes off to anyone who runs a marathon.
So what did I learn?
- Always listen to your doctor. I may have run the marathon but as a result I’ve had 4 more operations on my knee and now only have 40% left of my cartilage.
- Never laugh at a bloke dressed as a Teletubbie cos he might just kick your arse. On a side note, if you ran the 2000 London Marathon as a Teletubbie please get in touch. Love to buy you a beer.
- When someone tells you to run 16 mile races to prepare for a 26 mile race. Question it more and maybe go a little further.
- You can piss in a public shower and get away with it at the marathon.
- Run one. The feeling of achievement and satisfaction is euphoric!!