Got a London Marathon place? What To Do Next...
If you've just got a place via the ballot, read on! If you've entered the ballot five times, and failed to get a place on those occasions, remember you will automatically get a place on your 6th try. If you haven’t got a place this year, don’t despair. This post should give you a little idea of the feeling you'll have when you get the letter saying 'YOU'RE IN'. This time last year I remember flicking through my Instagram feed seeing people’s ballot results for London marathon. I had got nothing in the post yet, I was so anxious! After cheering at mile 21 in 2013 I really wanted to do it, fully experience the vibes and the Run Dem cheers and have it checked off my bucket list.
I was working from home on the day the letter arrived. I saw the envelope and started sweating - next level excitement for me! It was the first time I had entered the ballot and by some kind of luck I got in! I was actually going to do London Marathon - I nearly wet myself.
I shared the news with the girls, and roped them all in to come along on my long training runs (they didn't really have a choice). The thought of training continuously for months on end, adding more and more miles onto my runs finally sunk in. It was going to be tough.
Then, by some kind of other luck from the running gods we were ALL given the opportunity to run the London Marathon together as Food and Lycra.
We were going to go on this journey together, we were going to train together, support each other and spur each other on when times were tough, months were cold, runs were long. We were all running the London Marathon thanks to Adidas UK, and we couldn't have been more thankful to them for giving us this once in a life time opportunity to run one of the world's greatest race, together.
We warn you, get ready for mornings, evenings and weekends of long runs. You'll start replacing buses and trains with your legs, running becomes your main mode of transport. Carbs are now your best friend - no longer the enemy. A love hate relationship develops with your foam roller. And, you seriously get a lot of time to reflect - especially if you’re training solo. You’re going to have a lot of time to just think…you know, just about shit.
Here's how the London Marathon experience went for each of us.
The training was intense and so difficult to stick to. There were small runs in the week which led to a big run on the weekend. This is where you up the mileage - for us this was forcing our legs to do miles they had never clocked up before. The weekends went on and the mileage went past 13 miles, the most we had ever done before. Of course my legs didn’t like it, my knees said no, my shins were being stubborn and my lower back decided to surprise me with a bit of pain on a run.
Check out my training plan - every time you see a cross that’s where I couldn’t do the training because of some pain or another. I often hear stories of people who pushed it so much during training that they couldn’t run on race day. I didn’t want that to happen so we played it safe and rested early whenever we felt any pains. Although it seemed like as soon as I felt better it was time for the long weekend mileage, and then as soon as we had done the long run we had to take a week off again.
Something I was definitely being lazy about was my weights sessions that I had scheduled in. I didn’t put too much importance on it despite everyone telling me how important they are if you’re prone to injury. So back to the gym I went. I focused on my glutes with weighted squats and lunges and just about every other butt clenching exercise I could do.
MIRACLE! My long runs gave me less pain. The more weights I did, the more my legs could cope with the higher mileage. Previously on the long runs my quads would kill - always a bad sign! A sign that my butt had given up werk and my quads were carrying me now.
The day came sooner than I expected and it is the most amazing race I have done to date. Seriously, number 1 on all of our lists. So many factors why: Hometurf, untold amounts of friends and family en route, amazing crowds and mile 21.
We all started the race together but in the end we all finished at different times. With shorter races it’s easier to stick together, especially when you’re all familiar with the mileage. It was a first marathon for all of us, so no one was dictating the pace. We agreed earlier on that we would all go at our own pace so the main challenge was to just finish it.
Even though we had gone way beyond 13.1 mile mark during training I was still scared of this part of the race. After every half marathon I have done I have always ended it thinking ‘omg imagine doing that all over again, I would die’. I was praying I wouldn’t feel like that. Mile 13 was at Tower Bridge, I got there took a picture for Instagram and was my happiest ever. I had just seen my friends cheering so there was an extra spring in my step.
The main area I was excited about was Mile 21. I knew there was going to be a huge crowd there full of Run Dem Crew and most importantly my friends and family were waiting for me there. Just knowing that they were keeping track of where I was and staying in that spot cheering other runners ahead of me while looking out for me kept me moving when it got tough.
I couldn’t wait to get there. Not only because they were there but it was also where the main challenge begins. Your training normally takes you upto 20 miles and no further. The true test is on race day where you give it your all for that extra 6.2 miles to get you up to full marathon distance. I had butterflies in my stomach up until mile 21. Literally could not get rid of them, I even tried punching my stomach a couple times while running to get rid of the feeling. I was way too excited and nervous.
When I got there I wasn’t disappointed. The sheer roar of the crowd was emotional, it was my fastest mile for sure! I felt like an Olympian for 20 seconds, it gave me that extra bit of energy to get to the finish line.
The hardest was the run in the queens back yard. Although the crowds were amazing this was so hard. I struggled but I managed to finish in 4 hours 43 minutes. I aimed for 4 hours 30 minutes, but I was having such a good time during the race and it was also my first marathon - I’ve PB’d by doing it alone (plus it means the next marathon I do will be easier to PB haha).
London Marathon, by far the best marathon on earth.
I'm saying this because I cannot imagine any better race right now.
Picture this, sitting in a hammock in Mexico, it’s sunny everything is chilled and Kim dropped the question “shall we sign up to London Marathon?". Have you lost your mind Kim? 42km? ME? NEVER! Rachel was having none of it, but me on the other hand, a few minutes later and I signed up…WHAT THE HELL did I just do?
Running 42km is serious business my dear friends. It could be a just as much of a great experience as it could be a living hell.
First of all I didn’t get the ballot. Only Kim did. When I received the magazine saying I didn’t get it, it was a party in my head. I was happy I wouldn’t have to run this crazy distance. I was relieved. I was too scared of 42km. And, I was more than happy to cheer on Kim at mile 21.
But then when Adidas offered Rachel and I to run it, an opportunity we couldn't say no to.
I actually thought: F@£$%$K !!!!!! Excuse my french. I didn’t want to run a marathon lol. I’ve already conditioned myself to be Kim's supporter and that would be it. NO RUNNING.
Well here we are, all 3 of us on the start line this sunny sunday of April 21st 2014.
Just so you know I will not speak about my training in depth and pretend I trained when I didn’t. My job was exhausting me at the time and running became secondary. I did manage to do a few training runs with the girls but when you’re the only one with very little mileage in, it easily becomes a pain more than anything else.
So back to the start line now...
The girls and I started together like we planned but I knew I would lose them at some point. Yo, I’m SLOOOOOOWWW lol.
If someone would ask me if I had a ritual before each race, I would respond: "GOING TO THE TOILET AND RUSH TO THE START LINE BECAUSE I HAD TO QUEUE!" I have a very bad habit of needing to pee just before the race (there are a lot of us who are the same right? It’s the nerves lol).
This was not happening the day of London Marathon! I wasn’t allowed to pee even though I need to. I held it in for a while.
The girls and I ran strong together at the beginning of the race but what I predicted happened. I lost them around mile 7.
My lack of training caught up with me, I couldn't keep up with the girls' speed. I lost a lot of speed and confidence in running, but hey I was running London Marathon. Whether I was slow or fast, alone or with the girls, I wanted to make the most of this iconic race in my now second hometown (first one is Paris). And I did.
Oh, and I still needed to pee. I managed to hold it for 10 miles then I had to stop and do it in the bush, "you gotta do what you gotta do homie”. This could happen to you too!
Past mile 21, it started to get a bit tiring - hey it’s normal right? But the crowd was still there pushing me so I carried on to the finish line and cried again. 26.2 miles is a mental challenge.
I do not remember it all. I was sad, excited, happy, feeling euphoric, scared, crazy. All these feeling mixed up during 5 hours 26 minutes. I don’t care about my time. I had the best time ever. Would I do it again? YES!
It's been almost 6 months since I ran the London marathon and I'm still struggling to find the words to describe the whole experience. I honestly can't believe I ran the London Marathon. I ran 26.2 miles. I ran for almost 5 hours. I ran my city.
The whole journey was a massive rollercoaster, from the start of training to ending with race day. A rollercoaster of emotions, a rollercoaster testing my fear levels, a rollercoaster trying to keep me from going off track. A constant test against myself, a battle between what I was determined to do and what was possible of me.
I can still remember the evening I was offered the chance of running London. After many discussions with the girls trying to sway me to agree to run a marathon - something which has never been on my bucket list - I slept on it and thought fuck it, I'm going to do it! I was doing it for the girls, and for Kim who would have gone out on these long training runs alone if Laura and I didn't join her on her journey to 26.2.
Training was tough, but if it wasn't for those long runs taking over my life for three months I wouldn't have been as prepared for the big day. I won't repeat what went down during those training runs, but know that we had to put in the work! We trained until our bodies said no more, we listened to our legs when it said enough and we listened to our hearts when our mind was telling us it couldn't be bothered (no R Kelly Bump 'n' Grind here!).
Running a marathon is not easy, but it is doable. If you can get up and chase those ridiculous miles first thing in the morning, even when it is freezing cold, you are already half way there to running a marathon.
While out training you'll probably ask yourself 'What do I run for?'. For me, it's to say I can do it, to inspire others along the way, and to put our mind and body to the test, because we are capable of anything. Every mile counts for something more.
I'm proud to have completed my first marathon, the greatest thing I've ever done, but I'm more proud of inspiring my friends to go out there and take on a race of their own after cheering from the sidelines at Mile21...ahem Stef!
Now, sat at work, I'm anticipating what's in the post waiting for me when I get home. Am I going to get the opportunity to run the London Marathon for the second time?
A massive thank you has to go out to Adidas UK for helping us train for London 2014 and for kitting us out. We don’t know what we would have done without the Adidas Boost shoes. They saved us throughout our training runs and straight through the 26.2 miles - it’s a shoe we recommend to everyone taking on long distances!
Did you get a place? Or are you doing another marathon somewhere else? We would love to hear about it!