Today I took on the challenge of running 20 miles as part of my training for the London Marathon. I booked this race last year, knowing it would fall at a perfect time for my London Marathon training. I am so glad I did this with hundreds of other people as I think I would have really struggled if I attempted such a huge distance on my own around town.
When I did my 18 mile run, a friend joined me for 14 miles of it and the rest I did on my own. Not having any marshalls, water breaks, or an atmosphere of people cheering me on made the distance even more challenging. I think when you hit the half marathon point, anything extra is more of a mental challenge than physical.
I had put today at the back of my mind in the weeks leading up to the race because I really didn’t want to stress myself out thinking about it. The nerves definitely got the better of me before I left the house this morning. I felt sick and unsure if I would be able to finish the distance.
Things changed when I got to the race though. The buzz of seeing my friends really helped to get me psyched to race. When the race started and the music was going I felt ready to do the challenge. A lot of people who were there today were also training for marathons. It was great chatting to people along the route and that definitely killed some time.
Quite a few of my friends were doing the half marathon distance which took place along the same route. One of the highlights of the run was seeing those I knew running past me as they headed back along their half marathon route. Things started to go a bit downhill when I got to the point where the 20 milers headed off in a different direction. The fun of seeing the half marathon runners run past had ended and it was now down to me and my fellow 20 milers to get through the next 13 miles.
The next two miles were really tough, the scenery became a bit boring and the sun came out which meant I was battling against the heat. It was only when some of the speedy 20 milers started running past that things became a bit better again. I saw a few of my friends and highfiving each other as we ran past added some excitement and certainly killed some time.
The hardest bit of the race was after turning the corner for the home stretch at 10 miles. It had felt like the longest distance ever. I have run several 10 mile distances now, but that one felt by far the longest. At first the excitement of turning back was great, but very quickly it dawned on me that I had to do everything I had just done AGAIN.
At 12 miles I got chatting to a really nice lady called Kelly. We realised that we were both running the London marathon for the same charity, Arthritis Care and Research. Considering this is one of the smaller charities, it was so unexpected that we would ever run in to eachother.
Kelly was great, her phone was playing the best playlist of some of my favourite musicians; James Bay, P!nk, Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, Jess Glynn and so many more! She also came equipped with tissues, jelly babies and lucozade, so all of a sudden I felt better and safe. We both took on a bit of a walk/run pattern together and that made a really challenging few miles so much easier. At 17 miles I told Kelly to go on, my legs were aching a lot and I felt like I was pulling her back.
A couple of miles earlier we had got talking to another really nice girl called Hannah. Hannah caught me up at mile 18 and she was who I ended up finishing the race with. We pushed each other forward for the last two miles. It was tough and painful.
I love a sprint finish whenever I do a race. As I turned the corner, I saw my mum and dad cheering me on and bolted to the finish line. It was pretty emotional. The crying almost effected my breathing, but running through the inflatable finish sign was just the best feeling.
1 Epsom bath, large Starbucks coffee, 2 Instagram posts and 3 episodes of The Good Place later and I’m feeling a bit better, however my blisters on my toes are very painful and my legs are throbbing in pain.
During the race, I remember thinking to myself ‘why am I doing this?!’ But nothing can beat the feeling of finishing a long race, seeing your family cheering you on and knowing you gave it your all.
Today really was incredible. I can’t believe I did it. I was much slower than I would have liked at 3 hours 54, however if I go at the same pace for the London Marathon then I should be fine to achieve my goal of a sub 5 hour.