For those of you who didn’t notice, yesterday was the Virgin London Marathon, which meant that there was over 37,000 people tramping through the city, and even more standing at the barricades cheering the runners along.
What a day! The course record was broken, almost everyone (except possibly the rhinos) got to work on their tans, and it is estimated that over £50 million was raised for charity. £50 million!
As previously mentioned, the challenge this year was to complete the course twice, starting at Big Ben at 4am. On the 4th chime, seven of us, including James Adams and my old friend Alex Orme (who had been on 2 training runs in preparation) set off down the embankment towards Canary Wharf and Greenwich.
It was fantastic fun, and a great way to launch the book. We kept to a 4 hour pace, took in the sites and spent most of the time chattering away, so that it was only once we crossed the river at half way that any of us realised that the sun had come up and the day had begun. Cabbies helpfully pointed out that we were going the wrong way, but we did get a big cheer through Deptford. We got to the finish/start line on the stroke of 8am to be told that we weren’t allowed to cross it, which was a bit of a let down. Still, Dwight Yorke congratulated us and the sausage roll I had been carrying around all morning wasn’t as disgusting as it looked.
After a handshake we went our separate way – James and Drew back to Poplar to man the 20 mile drinks stand, Alex to a cafe for a fry up, and I tracked down the best cup of tea in years and put my feet up in anticipation for the return leg, and an interview with Jonathan Edwards (here at 43 mins, 33 seconds).
I was surprised to find that my legs were in pretty good shape, but coming back down to Greenwich, and especially by the time we got to Tower Bridge the heat and humidity were taking their toll. It was in preparation for this that I had spent the last couple of months running in bin-liners under my running kit, but still it was pretty grim. The moments of despondency were alleviated by lots of pats on the back for doing the double, another reminder of just how bonding the experience of running these kinds of distances is.
I don’t remember much of the rest of the race. I had a chat with the very beautiful Denise Lewis, saw James and Drew at Poplar, but for the most part kept my head bowed just trying to get to the finish line. The target of 4 hours quickly became 4.15, and I crept in just at just over 4 hours 30, so 8 hours 30 for the double, which was faster than the first 50 at the Spartathlon and in Rotherham, but that wasn’t the point. Job done, it was time to get home to see Mrs H and the boy and have a pizza.
Needless to say, today is going to be slow-going, but I’ve taken the day off to be with the boy while Mrs H settles back in to her first day at work. I can’t imagine that we’ll get up to much – a visit to the swings perhaps, and a walk around the park. As for the running, James has persuaded me to join the Serpentine Running Club to get involved in their Wednesday evening runs. And then there is the question of what to take on next. Mrs H, understandably, wants it all it be put on hold, so it’ll probably be a quiet summer. But I know that the itch that made me take on more marathons after London in 2000, and have a go at the Spartathlon will return. And when that happens it’ll take a force of nature from stopping me putting the trainers back on, closing the door behind me and heading out on the open road.