Disclaimer : welcome to anyone new reading this blog. My blogs have no angle, no attempt to grab a share of any market, it’s me, my feelings, my thoughts and my moans. And man, do I moan 🙂 This will be a long one, so strap in, get a cuppa, and prepare to shake your head.
It’s been a long road, but finally after months of not really knowing what I was doing it was time for London. My first (only?) marathon. I had kept quiet about my aims as I didn’t want pressure. But it’s therapy time. Honesty time. Until the week before the Tom Scott 10 miler ( Here) I was convinced I was going to be in shape for a tilt at a 3.15 Good for Age, and a lot of my training had been done at 3.10-3.15 pace. Unfortunately 4 weeks before London I had foot pain linked to inflamed tendons and had to reduce the training after this. Further hamstring problems after the Tom Scott had me reigning in the training completely with the aim of just ensuring I was ticking over and remembering the pace, but already goal A of 3.10 was gone, with goal B of 3.15 not looking likely. Not really fussed. I had promised a lot of people that I would enjoy it and that’s what I was going to do. Get round, smile on my face, and raise money for my Pink Army at Breast Cancer Care. But before that a few other things to do. Expo! The Running Awards! Sightseeing as my family were coming with me! Oh aye what a special weekend it was promising to be. The Gallachermobile hit the road to London and having made good time decided to hit the Expo before even checking into the Hotel on the Thursday. Even though I wasn’t matching and had Adidas trousers on and a Nike top. The sartorial shame. Man it hit me straight away. It was real. This was a different world. Into the Excel, straight over for my number, got my chip then through the Adidas tunnel of fear.
Really, I was scared going through it. And into the Adidas store. Bought some shorts as my other ones were done, then into the expo itself. Running heaven, a credit card killer, a sampletastic nutritional nirvana. Thankfully my boys enjoyed it too.
We walked about chatting to people, and then got the obligatory number shots and the mentions on the wall. This really brought it all home. The nerves were kicking hard.
Time to leave, check into the hotel, do a quick wee run (a 5k) then get changed and ready for the Running Awards. Aye the Running Awards. I am still not sure how I managed to make the short list for this, but thank you all of you that voted. I was very fortunate that this fell at Marathon time, so I was able to go along, take in the atmosphere, experience something new and then slip off quietly. There was to be a Blogger’s forum first and I had no idea what this even meant, but thought I should go along anyway as we were promised a goodie bag and I seems to be the only blogger in Britain who hasn’t had any freebies. Now I am not the most social of people. I am very shy until I know people and I didn’t actually know anyone going along barring a few Twitter interactions. So was nervous as I got the train. Got off at the O2. Saw the sign then was asked to pose for a picture on the way in (with my wee goodie bag), I was like Crocodile Dundee!
Now this was a really surreal evening. I was fortunate that as I went in I bumped straight away into Roger of irunoffroad and he looked after me. A gentleman. I was a bit overwhelmed by it all. As I suspected everyone knew each other, but fortunately between Roger, and pickupthepacepaul’s Paul (funnily enough) and his wife I was able to integrate, albeit only slightly. Had a good chat with the fellas of Million Mile Light, and the ladies of Totum sport whose stuff I was looking forward to trying as they, with many others, had contributed to the excellent freebie bag and this was much appreciated.
Soon it was time to go down to the main awards so I could watch everyone else with their free drinks while I sipped water and we waited for the awards to start. Now I am just naive wee Marko. I was flabbergasted about this different blogger’s world. When do you post for best results was being asked, what are your angles? I was told that it was all a numbers game and the only person who could trouble the winner of the last 2 years (fat girl’s guide to running) was Ben Smith’s 401 and that quality of writing didn’t matter it was all about followers. I had 140 twitter followers so I shouldn’t have turned up then. I suppose 3rd may be up for grabs?. I must admit to feeling a bit flat with what I was hearing from certain quarters. Yep Mr Independent blogger who blogs whenever he does anything then just puts it out there. I wasn’t playing the same game. I wasn’t making a living from it. I wasn’t a brand ambassador (though I would like to, contact me people :)). I really felt out of place like I shouldn’t be there. I pay for my race entries and all my gear. Oh yes I am really going to endear myself to the blogging gang now…. I hasten to add this was certain individuals, and others like the aforementioned Roger, Paul, and Ginger running man Liam were lovely. Anyway the awards started. Mike Bushell from the BBC came on on a space hopper. Run 4 it who I had written for before won some awards, then it came to the blog. Lipstick was being applied beside me in expectation. The blogs came up on the big screen. This was a thrill. I was up there !!!
3rd place, Gemma Hockett marathon girl. I had been following her blog as she went on the quest for a sub 3 marathon, and she was coached by one of the Bella boys so was very pleased for her. So that was it then, as being a numbers game it as all about the big two. Apparently my face was a picture as Mr Bushell instead announced that he hoped the silver award winner would live up to his reputation as the most irritating runner in Scotland as my picture went up on the big screen. Ooooft! Shocked and stunned!! I was ushered over to the press wall with my trophy and Ben Smith deservedly took the Gold award for his 401 challenge. An inspirational gentleman. I was in a daze and overcome as pictures were taken.
There were some appreciated congratulations from my fellow bloggers led by Gemma and Roger with the exception of one who simply offered a cold shoulder, probably annoyed at having wasted her lipstick. All a bit of fun and I was so delighted and genuinely shocked. Thanks everyone who has read and voted. This has meant a lot to me in my hobby that some of you have enjoyed it. Writing is a big hobby for me and I would love to do more. Was soon time to slip away before party madness ensued. I needed to reflect. Overcome.
Friday we moved Hotel to Wembley and took a wee trip into London for some sightseeing, and Saturday we did the open bus tour after I had a wee 5k up to Wembley and past the ACE Cafe. Some of the bikes I saw there over the few days were amazing.
It was a great couple of days. Elaine got to see Buckingham Palace for the first time while I checked out Tower Bridge and the finish at the mall. New scarf from Carnaby Street and big feet at M and M world.
But it was time. The main event. What I was here for. To ENJOY the London Marathon. I got the kit ready.
Didn’t sleep so was up early and changed. On the train and listening to my motivational music of choice.
Station by station more runners got on. All looking nervous. Some looking almost asleep. The smell of banana was overwhelming. Charing Cross now and the train to Blackheath. Like sardines. Taking forever. Thirsty. Tired. Nervous. Got to Blackheath and the procession to the park.
Time went away quick. Bag deposited. Chatting to strangers from all over the world in the pen. And we were off. I could not remove the grin from my face. The first mile was tight and slower but as expected. I was high fiving the kids at the side as I was really excited. First mile out the way and got into my rhythm. Was going to try and settle in at 3.10 – 3.15 finishing time pace and see how it felt. And it felt good. Got to three miles and saw Bella’s Italian Stallion in the crowd. He ignored me. Felt easy. Pace was consistent. Got to the Cutty Sark and the noise was deafening. Ooooft I had never experienced anything like it! It was amazing.
Onwards to mile 9 and the first meeting point for the Pink Army of Breast Cancer Care. It was so busy that Elaine and the boys couldn’t get to the front to see me, but I applauded the Pink Army’s support and got back on my way.
Again all feeling fine. Approaching half way and something I will take to my grave. You turn that corner towards Tower Bridge and it is incredible. I was grinning ear to ear. High Fiving the people beside me and the crowd. Arms in the air. The support, view, noise, all absolutely amazing.
Through the half in about 1.36 ish which was perfect, all going great. And the next few miles all remained the same. I was on for a time in the region of 3.15 if I could keep it going, but I was more than aware that the danger miles were still to come.
As we got to 18 miles I was starting to feel it a bit and came to peace with the fact that I wasn’t going to beat 3.15. I knew I couldn’t maintain it. Couple of slightly slower miles but still on for a good time. Was onto plan C. The 3.20. I would be delighted with that to be honest. Worked out my timings and knew I could reduce my ks from 4.34 per k average to 5 and still do it, so was about self preservation and all was fine. Brought it down to about 4.45k and this was going to be doable. Probably finish about 3.17 – 3.18, what a thrill that would be! But hell was around the corner. 22 1/2 miles and boom. The hamstring seized up totally. I had to stop. Right in front of Connell of Kilmarnock in the crowd who roared at me to get moving. “I cannae!” I cried back. Stretched it out and started jogging again then Boom! The calves went. Cramping like nothing else. The next 2 miles were stop start as tried to run but couldn’t. Cramp, the great leveller, had struck. Started a jog again just before the BCC 24 miles cheering point, wasn’t as happy this time….
Stop. Start. Walk. Jog. The quads went now. Bruising already. Crazy. Stopping to stretch. Getting overtaken by someone dressed as a witch. Hoping TV cameras don’t see me. Had to finish. Lot of money for the pink army on the line. Months of training on the line. Even if I have to walk I am finishing. Somehow I jogged. I jogged slowly. Through the bits I had been excited about. Big Ben. Westminster, The Mall.
I jogged at crawling pace. But I got there. I finished. Time had slipped to 3.23.49, but I was a marathon runner!!
It wasn’t the time that disappointed me, thats a good debut! It was the manner of the finish. I had looked forward to that finish, visualised it. I didn’t get it. I got through the finishing area, tried to get up the steps. (Met Bobby halfway up who had done 3.09 just two weeks after Paris). We got up the stairs and I saw Elaine and the boys, gave her a hug and the tears flowed from my eyes. It’s such an emotional experience. I can’t put it into words to be honest. We went into the Breast Cancer Care post race party where the applause almost had me in tears again.
An attempted massage that my legs wouldn’t allow and some sugary tea. Lots of it. People watching, watching all the amazing runners of Breast Cancer Care finishing, seeing the hugs from the family. The pride. Such a special time.
Back to the Hotel and a first pint of the year, and a big Munchie dessert. Oh yessss!!!
But I have to be honest I spent the rest of the day flat. I wasn’t happy. Disappointed in my finish. Even though I got a tweet from Dame Kelly Holmes.
Monday brought a different perspective though.
I am now proud. I am a marathon runner. I ran London. It battered me but it didn’t break me. And I raised a lot of money for my Pink Army. I have come a long way in the last few years. The directionless overweight chainsmoker is now a marathon runner, with an award winning blog to go along with it. Not a shoddy weekend. So the tunes? The whole thing has been Tricky, so here are two of his. Overcome, as I have been about this whole thing, and Hell is round the corner, because it was.
But before that a huge thank you to my wife Elaine who has been my rock all through this, and my boys who have shared my journey and told me that they were proud of me. This is the greatest thing of all, and if I can keep inspiring them then things are going to be ok 🙂
Now it’s decision time, back to 5ks and the track, or another marathon? Watch this space….
For pictures I thank Roger Thomasson, Breast Cancer Care, me, Elaine Gallacher. For support special thanks to Elaine and my family, #4HM, #teambaldy, all at MAC, Running Friends Scotland, Running the Distance and everyone who has read this blog and encouraged me.