Hello again from me.
I wanted to update you all on Sunday as soon as I could but needed the ability of a keyboard to get it all down so sorry for a couple days delay.
Firstly Sunday was an amazing experience. And hot, very hot. I’m sitting here with everything still stinging from the neck up like I’d been buried up to my neck in sand & been left there.
The race did not go quite to plan, ok in truth it felt like the race was collapsing around me. The first real disappointment was not being able to run with my hood up. The glare of the sun through the limited visibility & the heat inside caused me to not want to pass out pre-race but also steamed my glasses up making it even harder to see!
So for the run, we had a plan, my job was to pace us through it. This went well for the 1st 12KM’s, then the heat really hit me, stupidly I had decided to run in a base layer to prevent some chaffing. Looking at my watch I could see my HR steadily rising to 185BPM & knew it had to go.
I feel sorry for the crowd, They went from cheering a relatively healthy looking Iron Man into seeing some bloke standing there topless with his middle aged spread for all to see as I lobbed my base layer across the railing. Packing away my ample stomach & re-attaching my race number I then (And the irony was not lost on me at the time) managed to jab the safety pin straight into my finger causing it to bleed! We pushed on in the knowledge I’d just cost us 2 minutes.
At 10 miles (16KM) we both agreed we needed a bathroom break. To be honest I’d been needing one for about 10 miles! They have you waiting on the start line for over an hour & you’re fuelled to run, by the time we started it had bypassed keeping us hydrated & sat directly in our bladders. The queues were horrendous. We stood & suffered for 10 minutes. Our KM clocked at 17:22 with only 7:17 moving. I was very aware we were dropping behind the plan now.
This stop did however give me the opportunity to undo my Velcro & see Twitter, I was blown away by the response from you all & it was a massively boost. A huge thank you to Kev (@the5thdiabetic) for putting that out there to see. And by this point I knew several of you were tracking us, no pressure then!
We hit Tower Bridge just before 13 miles, it is a sight that will stay with me as we turned the corner & it was there in front of us ready to cross, sadly at this point Amy was becoming a bit off a pain in the arse for the past mile! (She’s not going to appreciate me saying that). She was enjoying the crowd a little too much and getting a little ‘buzzed up’ as I would call it, completely breaking the strategy & trying to do her Usain Bolt impression, I had to keep shouting to slow down, enjoy this. I can’t blame her, we both knew Emily was less than a mile away now. We wanted to just get there.
Crossing Tower Bridge was my chance to get on the telly, I blew it! I was trying to recollect which side Denise Lewis would stand in previous years. And I got it wrong, by the time I noticed it was too late, I tried to veer across but was cut off by other runners. Turning back would have only led to losing Amy too.
We passed halfway, everything felt fine, this bit was a bit cruel, a long gradual uphill section but we were in Charity Central, we passed so many but still could not see the JDRF support, then in the distance we saw the dark blue marker, as expected they were on the opposite side of the central reservation, for now we ran to the side & waved like crazy as they were waving their banner back at us. We set off knowing we would be back with them in 9 long miles.
Just before mile 17 I felt a problem, particularly my right quad that had decided to cramp up badly. Over 9 miles from the finish was not the place to do this. I’d also taken on some Lucozade that really had not agreed with my digestive system. The next 2 miles were tough but not because of the cramps. It was because I knew I had to let Amy go. I’d done my job, I’d gotten her over half way at a pace to make sure she’d finish ok (She has a history of struggling early on). I really didn’t want to let her go, but I had to for the sake of her race. In the end after some ‘discussion’ (Take that how you wish!) I basically stopped and forced her hand. As she moved away I slowed further to make the distance grow & make sure she didn’t come back.
Now to sort myself. And the real fun. I stretched out only to pull my hamstring in the same leg, no I felt really buggered. I got to mile 20 & some more toilets. With the help of some runners who kindly unzipped me I was able to at least get over the Lucozade issue. I left the port-a-loo’s behind. Got someone to zip me back up and set off happily, just getting back up to pace I looked down to my Garmin to see I had started off reasonably then the moment of horror hit me….
WHERE THE HELL WAS MY GARMIN!!!!!
I stopped dead (Not a good idea 1. With any sort of lower limb cramp & 2. When thousands of people are directly behind you speeding past, try it on a motorway, you’ll see the carnage I caused). How had I managed to lose my watch, then it hit me, I turned and ran upstream, straight back to the port-a-loo’s. Which one did I use? I had no idea. I got in the rough area and jumped on every person leaving waving my arm like a deranged wiggly armed monster… ‘IS THERE A WATCH IN THERE?’ I was screaming. I was close to prying open doors on unsuspecting runners. I was getting desperate. The a short blonde girl, she seemed about 4’10 came out looking confused (Well who wouldn’t with an overweight Iron Man lunging for her ‘Someone left a watch in there’ She said.
ME, ME, I DID…. I LOVE YOU!!! If I had any strength left I would have picked her up & swung her round, luckily for her I didn’t but I did have my £250 Garmin watch back. With all this excitement I’d forgotten this was still a race. With a quick thank you & wishing her luck I was on my way again, I never even got her name!
The next 5KM I struggled with my other quad cramping up. I also couldn’t take on any Lucozade now, I was relying on the general public and their sweet hand outs. And how generous they were. The rule was I could eat anything that didn’t need to be taken out a wrapper. There were countless Jelly Babies, fruit pastels, Haribo starmix, Foam Eggs & most dangerous of all a mini packet of Jelly Beans (Pre-Opened). As I inhaled this I just prayed for no aniseed flavour! Dodged that bullet. I was feeling fuelled.
I was at mile 20, 10K from the finish. Was slowing, I needed a plan. So I set off each KM walk 100M, Run 400M. It worked. I was clawing back time. I desperately wanted to still go under 6 hours (A target I’d been set to earn some extra fundraising). I was gaining between 1-2 minutes a KM. It was working. I became comfortable, the mile markers were becoming more frequent.
I hit mile 22. Suddenly I doubted myself, was it mile 22 or 23 where I got to see Emily. Was really hoping it was 22. But when you’re that tired you start doubting yourself. Then in the distance I saw them, I kept my pace & got to the railings to wild cheers, I grabbed Emily for a kiss and cuddle, did a few squats to ease the quads, grabbed another Jelly baby & off I went shouting for them to get to Amy at the finish.
Suddenly I realised I was going to make it. The last few miles down Embankment became enjoyable. I was cruising. Sadly with the cramps still there I couldn’t go up the gears to really put some speed in. With 600 metres to go I cruised past the man carrying a fridge, yes I felt proud to beat a man carrying a fridge! Rounding the corner the finish was in sight. I weaved up the straight passing a few runners and stopped my watch on 5:52:20 – Well inside 6 hours & only 6 minutes outside target. After the eventfulness of the race I couldn’t be disappointed.
Strangely after the race I wasn’t hungry, probably something to do with eating the equivalent of 3 giant bags of jelly babies. Instead I found Amy, met up with Emily and our support & headed for a well-deserved pint that was waiting for me.
What I won’t miss from the run, 2 particular shouts from the crowd:
1) You’re Iron Man, just fly the rest of it.
2) Come on don’t walk, get running (while stood there drinking a pint).
Looking back on the race I have to say the crowds were amazing, I didn’t use my iPod at all, it was all them that kept it going. I was proud to have done my bit for JDRF to raise funds for research so we can eradicate the complications of T1.
Thank you all for your messages I received during & after the marathon, they have helped make these past few days of aching limbs worth it. And they really do hurt. Not to mention nipples that want to bleed & blisters so large between my big toes that it now looks like I have webbed feet.
We will raise money again for JDRF again in the future, but for now which one of you guys are next to pick up the baton?
I will be doing a separate blog about JDRF & fundraising totals tomorrow.
Thank you for reading.