Warning: this post is not about cycling (that’s coming in the next posts).
About a year ago, I ran a marathon, just because I wanted to. I did the Lochaber Marathon, out of Fort William, which was a good event, and clocked a time of 3 hours and 27 minutes. I’d worked really hard to get under my 3:30 target, and when I crossed the finish line my thoughts were “that’s that box ticked, I can’t see myself wanting to do that again.” And then someone on a web forum pointed out that I’d run a Good For Age qualifying time for London. There are basically 3 ways you can get in to the London Marathon: you can go into the ballot, which has no guarantees of a place; you can take a place to run for a charity, which obliges you to raise quite a bit of money in sponsorship; or you can run a “fast” time, otherwise known as a Good For Age time. (Actually there are another lot of spots, called Championship spots, for the really, really fast people). The requirement for a Good For Age (GFA) spot depends, unsurprisingly, on your age and your gender. For men under 40 it is 3hours 10minutes; for men over 40 it goes to 3h15, and so on. But for women under 50 it is 3 hours 50*. I was quite surprised by this; obviously the women’s time will be slower, but that is a lot softer than the men’s times. I assume that they want to give more spaces to women. Anyway the result was that about a fortnight after saying I’d never run a marathon again I had my application in for London.
Roll forward a year, and I was stood on the start line – well actually there are 3 start lines, because there are so many people, the start you see on TV is probably about half the total runners… We had our silence in memory of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings and then we were off. Well, I am used to taking part in little local races where there might be a few partners/children hanging about at the finish line. This was rather different! There were crowds pretty much all the way round, so the experience varied from “noisy” to “very noisy” – the drummers under the flyover were especially noisy… going through Greenwich there were several pubs with sound systems or bands. At one point in Greenwich the road runs straight for quite a way, and it was just full of runners as far as I could see – and I also knew that most of the runners were behind me! Wonderful Boyfriend was waiting at a point just after Tower Bridge where you pass in both directions – on the way out it is just after the half way point and on the way back about mile 22. So I spotted him on the way out – just after the elite male runners had come past on their way back, it was nice to see them. By the time I got back to W.B. I was feeling quite tired and thinking that I’d forgotten just how far a marathon is! I was very glad to see him again. I’d been going for 2.5 – 3 hours by this time and the outward area was still full of people going through halfway… I think seeing W.B. gave me a lift as I knew I was nearly round, because I was able to pick up the pace and pass lots of people all the way to the finish – the “run for 14 minute, walk for a minute, repeat” thing that I do really helps for this as well.
So I got to the finish, which almost felt like an anticlimax. I ran 3:35:58 in the end, which I am quite happy with. I was 5646th out of 34170 finishers, 880th out of 12201 female finishers and 171st out of 1934 women aged between 40 and 44; which is not bad. I got my finisher’s medal and teeshirt (the teeshirt is a one size fits none job – it is massive!) and then spent quite a while waiting for W.B to work his way through the busy tube system to come and join me. We got some food and then went back to my sister’s home where we were staying. Would I do it again? Probably not, though I can see why people go back it is a very good atmosphere. There are just lots of other things I would like to do!
*Note: these were the times for the 2013 race. I believe that they have changed at least some of the qualifying times for next year.