Final Thoughts After The Marathon

Final Thoughts After The Marathon

Wow and after 6 hours 10 minutes and 11 seconds it’s over. People keep asking how I am feeling and congratulating me on my effort. I must admit Sunday was a real rollercoaster of emotions and when I finished, I couldn’t believe how emotional I felt, but as with all good stories let’s start at the beginning.

As you may recall I resumed running in November after being affected by Cellulitis and while I had agreed to be part of The Salvation Army team for the marathon, the idea of being able to run 26.2 miles seemed really daunting. But I had a fantastic coach in Becky Burke, who having run marathons and known me for close to 20 years I had no problem putting my trust and body in her hands. Becky promised me if I listened to her advice and followed the plan, I would complete the Marathon.

So, training commenced, and the first thing Becky did was review my nutrition and overhauled my diet. As I have written before, I was concerned that the change in diet would adversely affect my blood sugar and cholesterol as at 64 doctors tend to get panicky when readings go up. However, come February when I had my yearly blood tests I and the doctors were very happy with the drop in both readings. I also weighed myself at the start, I weighed 214lbs. I agreed that I would only weigh myself at the end of each month and I kept to it, and you will need to read to the end to see the results.

Becky & I had always trained on a Monday either in the gym or her garden but now we added a Tuesday run day, and until Christmas we kept running around 5 – 6 miles a time, but Becky wanted to me to also run another 2 days a week. After Christmas Becky increased my running miles to 8 – 10 and announced from February she needed me to run 12 miles on either a Saturday or Sunday, this is quite normal when training for a Marathon. Becky also said even if I run an organised 10k on a Saturday I needed to run the 12 the next day.

I half expected what was to come next so wasn’t shocked after two 12 mile runs Becky announced she needed me to run 14 miles and we worked out a route. Now I live in Bushey in Hertfordshire and there are no long flat routes apart from the canal. However, Becky was happy as hill running apparently is excellent preparation for a marathon.

14 miles became 16 and 10k races suddenly became half marathons and I began to develop IT (iliobial) band Issues. The IT band runs from your hip all the way down the outside of your quad and becomes inflamed, or as I discovered it feels like a knife is being pressed into my quad. The question was how do I continue to run when the general advice is to rest it? There really is only one remedy if like me you’re training for a marathon and that is to roll your legs over a foam roller, which can be pretty painful. Sadly, I couldn’t get used to using one, so Becky suggested using a Lacrosse ball which definitely helped.

So, training continued, and Becky set me my biggest challenge to run 20 miles. Now I generally run alone, and this can be nice as all you have to keep you company is music or listen to a podcast. But on the day, I ran 20 miles at 5 miles I was joined by someone I had never met, who asked if he could run with me for a while. I gratefully accepted and all of a sudden, my pace quickened and the next couple of miles flew by. When I reached 20 miles, I found my left leg burned from the IT band issue, but I had completed it in 4 hours 19 minutes, so felt confident that I could run 26.1 miles.

One thing I should have known and that is never be confident because you tend to get figuratively, bitten in your bum or in my case back issues that surfaced when I ran The London Landmarks half marathon, which was supposed to be a nice way to prepare for the marathon to come.

As the marathon was only two weeks away and far too much money had been donated, I had no option but to seek help from a physio. What was interesting was the physio diagnosed my issues stem from a problem with the SI (Sacroiliac Joints) which link the pelvis and lower spine. Apparently, mine were rather tight but he released them, and I was given additional stretches to do at least twice a day.

So, Sunday 23 April arrives and it’s a wet Sunday (definitely flashbacks to wet cross country runs at school, I did wonder if I would hear Mr Owen our PE teacher suddenly shout “Get a move on Baum” But there I was lined up in wave 17 with a start time of between 11:11 & 11:14 and all of a sudden we were off. I had imagined that the start would be difficult due to the number of runners but the only problem I had was I forgot to turn on my Strava, but that was rectified at one and half miles. The reason for the need of the Strava was I get my mile splits, so I can keep to my planned running time. As you know Sunday was wet but believe it or not it was perfect running weather and for the first 11 miles, I was on pace to a 5:45 marathon. But then disaster happened, no not the “wall” but my back issue returned with a vengeance.

While I tried to continue to run but by the time, I hit 13 miles I had to Geoff, Geoffing is a term coined for when a runner walks/runs. Now normally when I do this my pace drops to around 15 – 16-minute miles but surprisingly my average pace was 12-14 minute miles and that was down to the incredible support from the crowd and other runners.

The camaraderie between the runners was incredible and found if someone was struggling at least one or two other runners would talk to them and run or walk with them to help them through the pain issue.

Having run organised half marathons and 10k’s I’m used to the positivity from those that come out to support runners. However, the support you get from the crowd at The London Marathon is off the scale. My name was called so often, and I have probably never eaten so many jelly babies or Haribo’s, given and received so many high fives especially by children or touched “power up” boards plus being given hugs by complete strangers.

Another surprise was how emotional I felt, not at Tower Bridge which apparently is one of those places where runners become tearful, no mine happened around 20 miles when my wife and our youngest son were waiting & from then on, I kept wanting to cry. As I went past Buckingham Palace the emotions nearly overcame me but I managed to hold it together as I collected my medal but then the tears just flowed. Then as I walked to where I had arranged to meet my wife and our son, I suddenly felt my back hurting, and my legs felt like they were full of lead & suddenly realised I was sore from chaffing. In my desire to meet Mel, I forgot to go to The Salvation Army meeting tent when I could have had a massage and something to eat, which may have aided my recovery.

Final thoughts while I was hoping to run in 5 hours 50 minutes I end up finishing in 6 hours 10 minutes and 11 seconds, I’m really proud to have completed an iconic marathon.

Would I run another marathon? Well, I’ve applied for the ballot for next year’s marathon, then yes, I will. However, not officially join a charity team as the pressure to raise up to £2,000 was intense.

Did I enjoy it? Yes

How much weight have I lost? 10lbs plus around 2 inches from my waist and similar from my chest and bottom.

Would I recommend running? Yes, but only if your knees and back are ok and always with an experienced coach. Otherwise, you go out and walk.

There’s still time to donate!


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