That's it ... job done ... back home ... ouch!
Boy is this chair comfy, and the cup of tea so nice ... did that really happen yesterday - or was it a really bad bit of cheese I ate?
OK, assuming that it wasn't the cheese this is what really happened yesterday...
It was almost like getting ready for a flight, you set every alarm you can find - and also staying in a hotel you ask for multiple alarm calls ... but the total fear of missing it means you are awake 5 seconds before the alarm started at 6am. Then off to breakfast in the hotel where it was so easy to identify the runners ... they eat porridge, fruit and yogurt ... the supporters or normal hotel guests were tucking into their bacon and black pudding (we were jealous of them).
Back to the room to 'Gorilla suit-up' with the check list:
- Goo/Talc applied to 'Nips' and 'the lads'
- Blister plasters covering all the 'usual suspects' on the feet and toe-sock on the dodgy nail
- Familiar running socks on, and a foot-less pair of compression secs on over the top.
- Normal sports gear
- On goes 'Gerald'... (this was about 7am), followed by running top/number. I wrote my name on the front, and my @MarathonGorilla on the back - this worked out so well for the race :)
|Exhibit-A ... er ... me|
Off to West India Key to get the DLR to Greenwich ... I was the only person in costume on the train (this did not bode well) then off to the start.
|Banana acquired ...|
For various reasons the three of us (2 gorillas and 1 banana) were at different starts: I was in Green, Pete (The banana) Blue and Dave (Gorilla #2) at Red. As the plan was to run together we decided to meet up at the mile 1 (Me/Pete) and mile 4 (Dave); this meant we became part of the crowd for a while and cheered on the runners - while listening to fantastic music being played by live bands. I know that the queues at the red start were long, but the paranoia started to hit when we were waiting for Dave (from the finish time - he crossed the start line 20 minutes after I did), us he OK? with so many people phoning/tweeting there was little phone reception - we couldn't tell.
Then Dave appeared and our hearts leapt ... now we are three :) BRING IT ON!
Off we went, heading off at a reasonable speed and the crowd cheering it was superb, perhaps the running speed was a tad too fast - or was it the heat ... or both? as the need for water became more apparent (or as Pete kept reminding me 'Water is fuel') it was getting rather hot out there even without a furry suit (as other runners reminded me) so we slowed down and I kept running to the shady side of the road.
Both Pete and Dave have done the London Marathon before they had great experience to share with me as we went. They knew the course so knew where the quiet bits were, the exposed areas, the ways to beat leg pains and many other things. I have to say guys 'it was Gold-dust!' without that camaraderie I would have been in serious trouble. For example at about mile sixteen my right knee was starting to play up and Dave suggested that we run 'ten-on/ten-off' (ten seconds/paces or running, ten seconds of walking)
A number of friends had made the effort to turn up on the day, and wait over six hours in the sun for three costumed characters to run around tiring themselves out - like kittens with a ball of string. Many thank guys for being there :), additionally a number of twitter friends caught up with me for #GorillaHugs, thanks everyone it really really helped. I also remember seeing 'It's my 30th birthday today' on the back of one girl runners shirt, so I felt duty bound to kiss her hand and wish her Happy Birthday, and then run on.
It was off towards Docklands where the sun decided to hide (phew), but we kept up the 10-10 running which was easing my knee ... and people were offering fruit (perhaps a who banana was a bad plan) Orange segments have never tasted to good :). By now I was making sure I collected water at every stop, some I drank, some I poured down my/Dave's neck.
Then by the time we got back to Canary Wharf the sun came back out, the TV coverage kept using the term 'glorious' - not a term I would have used while running in a 'G-suit', I would have used 'sub-tropical'. But slowly one by one the mile markers disappeared, soon 10 miles turned into 10k, we kept up the 10-10 (by now I was counting them out loud as I ran) but we were making tracks through all those that were just walking.
Eventually we got to 5k, where unfortunately I needed more walk, than run; where no matter how much I had trained over the last six months I was just not prepared for the heat on the day. Pete tried to keep us ahead of 'two people running as a bus', unfortunately I had say 'we'll catch the next one' as we let it ran past.
We then lead up to the final mile, wow - the crowd was amazing now ... calling us all out by name, so we saved ourselves for the final 800m (or so) where the Banana would taunt the Gorillas and we would take chase; so much so that the final straight up to the finish line was almost a sprint (I have no idea where the energy came from).
Then it was done, we managed it, the un-holy trio had stayed together for 22 miles, and we kept together to the end. As mentioned earlier the delay between the starts gave us all three different times, but I am still proud of my time 6h 12m 30s, and as I never have completed a marathon I now have a Personal Best, something to aim to beat next time.
Some of the lessons I learnt from the marathon
- The crowd is fantastic and will cheer you on - encourage and enjoy them
- You can steal sweets off small children
- Aim to finish, not for a finishing time
- You gain a pathological hate for 'I would walk 500 miles' being played
- Don't eat your food to quickly, chew (my Mum taught me that), burps are bad :(
- Talk to fellow runners - you both feel so much better
- A Rhino is like a Micra, you will always be overtaken by one
- Not all sports gels taste like snake venom - honest!
- Your friends will cheer you on, personally if they can make it on the day, or via social networks - you will remember all their messages as you run
- If you see a 100 people tied together as a human centipede, and they are queueing for the portaloos - try not to laugh too loud. ( fantastic work on the run guys)
- If you wear a silly costume - you will get noticed (The best London Marathon fancy dress)
Finally, a few friends I'd like to mention (and their times) Well done all.
Dave Holby Pete Elliott 06:07:52, Stephen Kelly 04:04:37, Chloe (The Brand) 04:26:03, richard dainty 04:59:00, Charles the Chav 05:13:15, Steve Dubois 04:57:02, Simon Freeman 02:43:37, Chris Naylor Karen Balloch 04:23:58, Paul Robbins 05:54:00, Samuel Marsh 04:03:45, Chris Mercer Sally Sauntson 06:21:00, Uli Killian 04:45:43, Mel Churchward 05:25:10