The lead up to the London Marathon was not ideal for me. I’d been ill for about two weeks, was suffering from a bad cough and was almost feeling better but not quite there yet. Basically I needed a few more days and I’d have been absolutely fine. But no, I decided to run the marathon.
Look, I know it was a silly decision but it’s the London Marathon, which is pretty damn epic. We’d also already paid for the Airbnb and the trains – non-refundable. So off to London we went!
With Isaac staying with my parents, Kyle and I headed to London on Saturday morning on the train. Kyle’s brother, Adam, was joining us on route. This was really lovely as it was, of course, nice to have Kyle there but to have Adam as well, it made it even more special.
We grabbed some lunch at Waterloo. We had some wraps and chicken bites from a place called Pure which was rather tasty and then headed straight to the Expo. Lots of tubes and DLRs later, we go there.
I picked my bib up and moseyed about a bit and then we headed to our respective hotels/Airbnbs. We met up later to get dinner at Franco Manca. We had a pizza each and a pizza to share as well as a vegetable platter. Exactly what was needed for the race ahead.
The next morning we woke up and got ready and had my little porridge pots for breakfast.
an Despite the email saying we should arrive at 8.44am for my wave 2 start we decided to not go that early. I’d only be standing around getting cold as my start time wasn’t until 10.05am. However we definitely left it too late.
As we headed on the tube and train we quickly realised how ridiculously busy it was. Then the final train to Blackheath stopped because the platform was too busy. While I was having a lovely chat to a girl who was running for the Guide Dogs (she gets to play with puppies after the race!!), I was starting to get worried. It was now 9.45am. Whoops.
Finally the train arrived and I kid you not, we ran to the blue wave. I had literal minutes to spare. Got a quick photo and then said goodbye and off I went.
I arrived at my wave just as they started moving off. No time for a pre-race wee!
So to the race itself. I didn’t feel my usual hype. I felt sick with worry. This was obviously not the right thing to be doing when I didn’t feel 100%. Running this would definitely not make me feel better.
The first few miles are quite boring. It actually reminds me a little bit of the Reading Half weirdly. A lot of residential buildings and people standing on pavements cheering. My main focus as I began running was to find a portaloo on the course. It started raining but I wasn’t cold thankfully.
I had such a low level of dread during this whole race. Basically knowing I wasn’t feeling well and knowing that was only going to get better. So I didn’t feel like I could fully embrace the euphoria of the start. I really didn’t know if I was going to finish or not. I was so worried and felt so sick, whether by nerves or just feeling ill I wasn’t sure.
Anyway, I found a portaloo. So that was one stress gone. As I was running I was finding I needed to cough a lot though. I couldn’t properly cough while running so decided I’d keep stopping in the portaloos so I could have a proper cough and wouldn’t freak out other runners. I did this 4-5 times during the race. It was funny because the first time I was like “be quick, be quick” but by the third time I was like “yeah just take your time, no stress”. Time was not something I was going to be worried about today!
Kyle had told me that Adam and him had planned to be at mile seven. In my mind I was just trying to get there. Don’t think of anything further, just get to mile seven. We got to Cutty Sark which was a great experience. Lots of crowds, the cool boat and just general atmosphere was like “YOU ARE RUNNING LONDON”.
Then finally I got to mile seven and I amazingly saw Kyle and Adam. It was so lovely to see them. It definitely picked me up. Though they were utterly soaked, I felt so sorry for them to be supporting in the rubbish weather. True legends that they were.
Kyle rung me a while later to say that would try to get to mile 14 to see me. At this point I wasn’t feeling great. Running was hard work. I felt like I was at mile 18, not mile seven. It just felt like such a monumental task to get to 26.2 miles.
I kept my focus on halfway though, knowing that it was just after Tower Bridge, which would be epic. I decided to put on a podcast. I wasn’t really taking in much around me, I was just looking down at the road and keeping myself moving forward. Let me tell you, so many gel wrappers! I basically just went into myself, like I was in my own little bubble.
To be honest, I didn’t really listen to the podcast. I couldn’t hear it properly anyway over the crowds. It was more something I could listen to for a bit and then fade out of. I just needed something else to focus on at times. I wish I’d have had my name on my bib because I really needed the boost. I was jealous of other runners get cheered along. I saw a few people along the course I knew, which was so lovely, but mostly I was in my own head in a little world of hell.
We went across Tower Bridge and that was amazing. The crowds were incredible and so loud! I felt such a buzz which was great. And I knew I was almost half way and that in itself was incredible considering how I was feeling.
Sadly Kyle and Adam didn’t get to mile 14 – the trains were just rammed. He rang me and let me know. I updated him on how I was doing and said I would try to finish. I’d made that decision at mile 11… in a weird way I thought “well it’s only 15 miles, I can do that”. Obviously that’s a long way still though!
My next focus was getting to Canary Wharf. We’d been to dinner there last night and I knew it would look cool with all the high-rise buildings. It was also around mile 18 and that in itself is a great milestone. So that was my next focus.
I’d say around this point, from miles 13-18, I was probably feeling my best. I’d stopped going to the portaloos to cough and I was feeling like I could do this. My pace was fairly stable and I wasn’t declining. I got to Canary Wharf and of course my watch satellite went crazy with the high-rises. As if I was running a 6 minute mile!
My watch then went a bit doolally and became a mile out. So when I hit mile 20 my watch was telling me I was hitting mile 21. This was very depressing! Anyway Kyle’s next point was mile 21 so I was really looking forward to that. Especially because it was only around five miles before the finish! In fact as I’d hit mile 20, 10k seemed very doable. Hard doable but definitely doable.
I tell you what though, those final miles were tough going. My legs, which had originally felt absolutely fine during the whole race now were feeling really ropey. They were feeling very battered and like they could seize up. This was crazy to me because I wasn’t even running that fast compared to some of my other races. And yes despite not running that much during my two week’s of sickness, I had done decent training leading up till that point. Clearly this illness was really taking it out of me.
Anyway, the final miles seemed to crawl by. I’d switched to music at this point and was really trying to draw strength from the songs and crowds. When I finally saw Big Ben I knew I was almost there, a mile! But my God that mile really took it’s time. I saw the “600m to go” sign and it was like I was running through porridge. I couldn’t get my legs to move any quicker. Normally at this point during a marathon I’m all hyped up and speed up, but Jesus I absolutely could not.
We got to the Mall and all I cared about was that finish line. As cool as everything looked, I just wanted to finish.
3:47:59 – an utter slog and my hardest marathon.
Kyle rang me and told me he was stuck at Tower Hill because of the trains. I burst into tears. I just wanted to hug him and go home. It had started to rain again and I was getting cold. I had the aluminum foil blanket clutched round me but I was still so cold. I didn’t know where to go because Kyle wasn’t nearby. I just hobbled along, my legs in pieces, in a forward trajectory to just keep moving.
I found someone to take my photo and just as they were doing it a woman who worked at Sweaty Betty handed me some flowers which was lovely!
Then I stumbled to the Admiralty Arch, which was the only shelter I could see around me. I literally stood there looking like a sorry soul having no idea where to go. Eventually I was getting far too cold (after enviously watching people with their families putting on layers on GoreTex coats and hoodies) I decided to head towards a tube and make my way to Waterloo.
Communication between Kyle and I was tricky because he was stuck in the underground and had no signal so I just text him explaining what I was doing and hoping he’d head my way. Eventually, after I crawled towards Embankment we met up. Thank God! It was so lovely to see them both. They’d had a nightmare with how busy the tube had been and it sounded very chaotic. I was so grateful to see them though.
We headed to Waterloo and then squeezed on a rammed train to get home. At this point I was still so cold and feeling incredibly sick. My legs were in pieces as well. Basically I was not having a good time. The train was so full we had to stand/sit in the doorway of the train. There was just no space. It wasn’t ideal but at least I was warm and I could hear about their adventures – always more exciting than me just running!
Anyway long story short, I definitely shouldn’t have run the marathon. It was unbelievably hard work, I didn’t feel my usual marathon joy as I ran and finished. I just felt utter relief for it to be over… but then the realisation that I now felt so much worse. The sickness I felt continued overnight and even the next day. Food was the last thing I wanted, which is MADNESS as usually I’m ready to eat all the foods immediately after finishing.
I wouldn’t recommend running a marathon when you’re ill. Despite saying all that, I don’t regret it. It was an experience and I had a lovely weekend with Kyle and Adam. Just another lesson learnt!
Have you ever run when you’ve been ill?
Have you ever run the London Marathon?