The unique spirit of London Marathon
Like many people, I sat down and watched the footage of the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon with awe and felt inspired. So many people, from so many backgrounds, putting their bodies to the test for a gruelling 26.2 miles with smiles on their faces. Whether for charity, for fitness or purely for the challenge, there they all were, in their thousands! Afterwards I resolved to enter the ballot when it opened to gain a place in this most famous of marathons. However, also like many other people, I was disappointed to receive a commiserations email with a note to say a record number of people (over 414,000!) had applied, and unfortunately I was not one of the lucky few to get through.
Whilst this was disappointing, it was not exactly surprising given the numbers of entries, so I looked to the spring racing calendar to see what my other options could be. I had heard great things about the Stirling Marathon (coincidentally on the same date as the London Marathon) and had pretty much decided to go for this, potentially chucking in Alloa Half Marathon or Inverness Half Marathon as training races in the lead up.
A stroke of luck
However, much to my surprise and pleasure, I received an email from my boss in early January to say New Balance (a new brand to Run4It and the official shoe and kit sponsor of the London Marathon and New York City Marathon) were offering one lucky Run4It employee a free race place for London 2019. YESSSS!!! Needless to say I emailed straight back and entered our internal ballot, and in a rare case of luck, I bagged the spot. It was confirmed. I would be running London on the 28th April 2019! I was ecstatic! Having witnessed one of my colleague's London Marathon journey last year and hearing all the great things she had to say about it (despite the heat – I’m praying it won’t be quite as hot this year!), I was so excited to be going. The nerves would come later.
One more can’t hurt...
To give you a bit of insight into my running history, I am mainly a half marathon runner, having taken part in the Great North Run in 2013 as a charity work place and subsequently getting hooked and never looking back. In 2014 I ran the Edinburgh Half and afterwards received an email from them saying “You’ve done the half, now why not do the full marathon next year?”. I thought, “Why the heck not?!” I was told only 1% of the population have run a marathon and thought it would be nice to be part of that ‘special' group. The 2015 Edinburgh Marathon itself was, unsurprisingly enough, hard work. My training hadn’t been the best that it could be (I did shirk a few of the longer runs – this is not to be advised!), and at 18 miles I hit the dreaded wall and had to run/walk for a couple of miles until I willed my body into running for the remainder. Whilst overall I was happy with my time, coming in at 4 hours 14 minutes, I had decided that one marathon was probably enough for me and I could switch back to my trusty halves, happy in the knowledge that I had one full under my belt. Apart from the pain, the time it had taken to train for the race did seem to take over my life for a few months and I was happy to return to normal service.
Memory is a funny thing, however. Over time I forgot how painful those final few marathon miles were. And starting work at Run4It in late 2017 I was immersed in the running community, with so many people coming into the shop talking about the different events they were doing, and how they had fared over varying distances, that I started to think another marathon would be possible after all. I mean, I surely have no excuse now that I work in a specialist running shop! This led me to watching the 2018 London Marathon and realising my dream to take part. All that was left to do now was start training (no shirking this time!).