Wow! Just wow!
What an incredible day! All those early starts, runs in the cold/wet/dark worth it in the end.
I started the day incredibly nervous but managed to get some breakfast in me. The short trip to Greenwich Park from the hotel for the #TeamSense passed without incident. Managed a quick FaceTime call to my brother in Australia whilst waiting for the train too.
It was great to see familiar faces at the photoshoot, some great views across the London skyline on a crisp Sunday morning.
As I made my way to the starting pens I met up with Dan and tried not to focus too much on the nerves and tried to keep warm.
It seemed like a huge wait to get going but there was a good atmosphere in the park and people lined the sides to wish everyone well.
We were off, Dan and I wished each other well and we started to find our pace. The crowds were unending; waving, cheering, handing out sweets. I found there was a lot more space to run than I had been expecting which was great.
As I ran I couldn't quite believe that I was doing the London Marathon. I purposely didn't memorise whether all the Sense cheering points were so I had something to look forward. I was expecting that towards the end I would need the distractions. The first one seemed to come quite quickly, Cutty Sark, mile 6.5. I was a little worried that I might miss seeing them but I shouldn't have as they were loud and proud! My wife and in-laws waving and beaming dressed in bright orange... and then they were gone. I was feeling good, comfortable, no niggles and I plodded on.
Mile 14 - having crossed the famous Tower Bridge and completed half marathon distance it was time for another #TeamSense cheering station, given away by the big orange balloons and vast army of people in orange. They cheered and waved and I did the same. Still feeling good and enjoying the ride.
Mile 19 was the next cheering point in Canary Wharf, having picked out my supporters I was still feeling good. I was running at a pace that would see me finish at around the 3:35-3:40 mark and that was more than OK by me.
Then it happened. The pain in my left glute that occurred 3 weeks ago in training was back, only this time I knew I still had around 10km still to do. Now it was mind games.
How am I going to finish this? Doesn't matter, but you will!
My leg REALLY hurts. Keep moving, don't stop!
Walk, hop, skip, jog was the routine I got into, I knew that if I stopped even for a moment I would be in big trouble. The crowds continued to cheer my name and encourage me and thousands like me through the streets.
I made the mistake of paying too much attention to my watch, I could see the cushion of time I had built up start to ebb away and the distance remaining didn't seem to reduce at any rate.
I thought about the people who donated, those who had help secure my place in this magnificent event. I thought of Ted & Ernie, the twins who inspired me to run for Sense. I thought of my wife, she was telling me in my head "you've got this!".
I was feeling disappointed, gutted at the time, that I was doing so well only to fall foul of the same injury again. I made the conscious decision to just try to enjoy what was left, I waved to the crowd, I applauded their support and most importantly I kept moving forward.
Eyes scanning the crowds constantly trying to glimpse someone, anyone, I knew to absorb some personal support, a distraction. Was there another cheering point?
There was, by Tower Hill, a mere parkrun from the finish. My mind was all over the place. In good shape parkrun should take about 23 mins, at this stage I'd settle for 40. I'd long since given up looking at the watch as the cushion has long since disappeared from the target pace which have seen me cross the finish line in about 3:50.
As I hobbled along Embankment I saw the River Thames, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and something else. A sign that said 2km left to go. In my head that's like 10 mins. A look at the watch said something else, 4 hours was still on the table!!
There were 2 aims initially, 1) finish 2) finish in under 4 hours.
My mind was set; EVERYTHING was being put into those last 2 km. The pain was awful, I'm sure I looked terrible, form went out of the window but who cared!? Not me.
Before long I was on Birdcage Walk, I could pretty much smell the finish line. This is what I had dreamt about, perhaps not under these circumstance but still. Rounding that last bend, Buckinham Palace, the noise of the crowd, the grandstands... Eyes on the finish and giving it every last ounce of effort. I crossed the line, finger in the air and shouted "YES!"
At this point, there was no pain, Not for several minutes. I had a few obligatory photos taken with my medal, beaming smile.
I was pleasantly surprised at how efficient the bag retrieval service was and I was milling about looking for someone in bright orange to direct me to Tiger Tiger but either in my state of elation or pain I didn't see anyone loitering. I got directions from my phone and called my wife, then my brother in Melbourne and my Mum & Dad to let them know that I had finished.
Having arrived at Tiger Tiger I was offered food and drink but my first thoughts were making use of the massage facilities that had been laid on. A quick reunion with my family, hugs and handshakes with some familiar faces who had completed the race before me and the painful trip downstairs for the massage. I couldn't even bend down to take my trainers off without getting cramp.and the massage hurt like hell too but I could feel the impact as soon as I stood up again.
Some food and a few cups of tea later and all was well with the world.
I'm incredibly proud that I ran the London Marathon and that I ran it for such a worthy cause. Huge thanks to my family for their support, Sense for their support, everyone who donated, my fellow runners for the encouragement.