Thursday, April 25, 2013

Virgin London Marathon 2013

Whew, where do I even begin?!?

I arrived in London mid morning on Saturday and headed straight to the expo to pick up my race packet and meet my friend, Vicki (she's the one that got me on the charity team to run the marathon). The expo was great, crowded, but great. Tons of vendors of all sorts and they even had a printer that could print your name on your shirt you were wearing for the marathon right then and there. In lieu of giving you a really awesome race t-shirt or even a nice finisher t-shirt. they have their sports sponser (in this case ADIDAS) come up with very appealing shirts, pants, shorts, jackets, etc that have the Virgin London Marathon 2013 logo printed on it and are for purchase. I seriously could have bought everything in there but refrained and only bought 2 things, a bright yellow wind jacket and a blue shirt (that I actually raced in) and had my name printed on the back. Overall, I was very pleased with the organization of the expo and all that it had to offer. I was was little hesitant since rumors have it that the international expos don't quite live up to those in the USofA.

 After picking up my race packet and spending hubby's money browsing the expo, Vicki and I along with her friend Danielle, headed to a carb loading lunch before I parted ways to go meet up with my fan club! Debbie and Luke now live in London and Kristin came down for the weekend to cheer me on. Nary and Gerald coincidentally had a weekend planned in London already so it was sooo much fun to have some of my favorite people there to cheer me on. And not mention, Debbie and Luke moved in to their new flat the day before I arrived and had a perfect guest room set up for me. They are the best!! Once I met up with everyone we headed to Soho Joe for some yummy pizza before we called it an early night since we all had a looong day ahead of us on Sunday.
Yes, Luke ate all of those pizzas :-)

I surprisingly got a decent night's sleep on Saturday and woke up around 6 to have a light breakfast and coffee before getting ready and taking the train to Greenwich (Grin-Itch) Park (where the start was) around 7. I got to the park in plenty of time to drop of my after race bag, meet up with Vicki, use the loo (we were in England, people) and just take in everything before the 10:00 start. The start of the race was so organized and I must give the VLM props for that. Organizing and herding 30,000 people can not be an easy task.
Good thing there were plenty of portaloos! (this was in our magazine)

walking up the hill to the starting line
Danielle, Vicki and me before the race
Before the race there were 30 seconds of silence for the people of Boston (and everyone was given a black ribbon to wear on their shirt). Never have I been so moved in my life. For 30,000+ people to be in complete silence at the same time is indescribable. My eyes instantly teared up and wave of emotions took over. The race started soon after and right on time. I was in Coral 8 so it was about 13 minutes later that I actually crossed the start line.

I won't go mile by mile on how I felt but if I could sum up the whole thing in one word it would be overwhelmed. I have never been a part of an event that had that many participates and that many spectators. I think they estimated 700,000 people total. It was hard to focus with people screaming for the entire 26.2 miles. As a runner you hope to get into your zone and actually pace yourself. As a Virgin London Marathon virgin, I did not know how to do this and I was overstimulated the whole time. My brain didn't know what to do. Usually when people are yelling that loud you are at the halfway point or at the end, not at mile 5.  On the other hand, it is truly amazing to see this event so well supported and the spectators were having a great time!

The weather was amazing for a spectator but not so much for a runner who did all of her training in winter of Northern Scotland. If you regularly follow my blog you know that most of my long runs involved some sort of hurdle mostly in the form of snow/ice and really cold temps. The high on Sunday reached around 63F which was about 30 degrees warmer than any of my training runs. My body was in a bit of shock and there was a point about half way that I got a little overheated and had to douse myself with water to feel better.

This was mile 20, still so many people around me!
I was wearing my camelbak (a small backpack with water) as I did in my last marathon but it got really uncomfortable this time around and I knew it had to come off. I knew my fan club was going to be somewhere between the half way and 20 mile mark so I called Debbie (while running) to see where they were to make sure I didn't miss them. She said they would be around mile 20 so I said please look out for me I have got to get rid of this backpack! But being the amazing person that Debbie is she ran over to mile 18 so that I wouldn't have to run with it for 5 more miles!
My Fan Club!
The last miles are a bit of blur (I do remember seeing Nary, Gerald and Christine at mile 22 though!!), I was sooo ready to be done. And with all the people you couldn't really recognize the Parliament Building, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace anyway. Luckily, I was able to go back the next day and get a really good look at these!

The Mall, that's Buckingham Palace in the distance. So. Many. People.

I finished with a time of 4:35:41. My goal was 4:30 or under and I was oh so close. However, considering how warm it was and the over stimulation, I am happy and it gives me a goal for next time!
So happy to be finished!!
After the race, we headed to the South Kensington area for a quick bite and a gelato treat before Kristin headed to the airport and Debbie, Luke and I headed back to their house. The rest of the evening was spent watching FRIENDS, drinking wine and having Debbie wait on me because my legs were done for the day. I really do owe her big!!!

A huge THANK YOU to Debbie, Luke, Kristin, Nary, Gerald and Christine for taking the time to come cheer me on! I can not imagine running that without some of your own support to look out for. I was so excited when I saw them and it gave me that extra boost to make it through. And I know I had at least that many people tracking me and cheering me on from Aberdeen, not mention a crew taking care of my hubby. Jonathan, Laine and Julia THANK YOU for making sure he didn't go crazy or hungry. I am truly blessed with some amazing friends and thank you all so, so much for your support!!

And to get a spectator's view of the race, check out Debbie's blog tomorrow!


  1. I'm very proud of you and I'm so glad you had a fan club there to support you before/during/after the race. I can imagine how tough it was with the crowds and the heat...definitely makes it harder to get into your running groove.

    If you want to make good time- run the Baton Rouge Marathon. It's completely flat, cool temps in December, and hardly anyone there cheering (or running) because it's usually on the same day as the SEC championship game:)

  2. Yay, you did it! Looks like you had a once in a lifetime experience. Very proud of you friend!