London Marathon Report

Well done to Lucy Dunbar for completing her first London Marathon in under 4 hours.  She sends this report:

Where to start? The London marathon weekend began for me on Saturday morning where I went for a leg loosener run along Regent Canal with my family. My dad made it his mission to say ‘good morning’ to every runner we passed, refusing to be put off when only a couple replied out of 30+ runners. Good old happy Londoners!

From there it was off to the expo to pick up my race number and timing chip. I was dreading the queues but the whole thing was very well organised and separated into different queues based on your number so actually this was all very quick and efficient. I picked up a nice new London Marathon vest as based on previous races I thought the finishing tshirt may as always be too big so wanted a momento that fits! There were lots of stalls and athletes doing talks but we missed most of this (I did spy Steve Cram – but that’s pretty normal these days after seeing him at the Good Friday Relays). Here we got to pick up goodie bag number 1 (we got another after the actual run full of goodies – Great North Run should take note, you get far more for your money at London!!).

So my Sunday morning didn’t start off too great. I struggled to get to sleep and woke up at 2am thinking it was time to get up and then struggled further falling back to sleep from there! I went down for breakfast at the hotel at 6.30 which was put on earlier for all the ‘athletes’. I then put on all my gear for the day, as you can see from the photo I look a little like I’m off to an 80s roller disco. Sporting my Claremont vest, pink knee high compression socks and my Heads Together campaign headband. I was really on board with wearing the headband – as I work in mental health it is a message we should be sending to everyone – that it is okay not to be okay and we should all talk about how we are feeling a whole lot more.

Once deposited at the blue start by my parents and boyfriend, I was left alone for an hour to hang about while they rushed off to a place to see me later on. Here was one of the days most ‘interesting’ experiences where I tried to navigate the toilets and found myself in a queue for female urinals. Now this isn’t something I’m on board for… I joined a group of ladies at the side of the tent who adopted a more ‘sod that’ approach and just squatted at the side of the tent together. Ah bonding at its best. 5 minutes after leaving I then found the normal portaloos, sigh. To the start line!!

At the start line it became clear quite how many other nationalities come to run London, there was a large group of Germans nearby and I can remember passing South Africans, French, Mexican, Spanish and Americans to name a few.

And off we went! I tried to be sensible in the early miles and just get into a consistent stride and pace and not go off too quickly. There were many times it was too busy and congested like the Great North Run where you had to look out for tripping up over people’s legs who moved about in front of you and as always trying to pick up water was a bit chaotic but better organised and more spaced out than the GNR. The crowds really were amazing. I had people shout ‘come on Claremont’, I’m not sure if they thought this was my name or if they knew it was a running club but it was nice all the same! Running over London Bridge just before halfway has to be one of the best moments, runners were getting their phones out to take selfies while they ran.

I had kept up a steady pace for the first 30k and all being well I would have been on for 3 hours 49 minutes, but it was not meant to be today! As we got to around 19-20 miles, my Garmin started to play games with me and kept alternating pace between 1 minute miles to 16 minute miles which made pacing extremely difficult! And from there I really started to hit the wall, the heaviness in my legs just seemed to come from nowhere but got progressively worse and worse. When my Garmin finally starting to sort itself out I realised I had dropped into the 9 minute miles. And then the chaffing came and oh my was I glad for those lovely medics who stand there handing out the Vaseline, you guys are lifesavers!! I knew from here that my hopes of a PB (sub 3.51) were out the window. I really had to dig deep here just to keep moving. It helped with the amazing support and trying to think of the two little girls I had raised over £1000 for. I tried to remind myself that completing a marathon is an achievement in itself and on I went adjusting my aims for sub 4 hours instead. At Westminster, after seeing my boyfriend and some friends, I managed to pick up the pace slightly. The end was in sight! Turning down onto the mall was pretty spectacular and I managed to pick up the pace to have a kind of sprint (as much as you can when you’ve ran 26.2 miles) to the finish! 3 hours 56 was my time in the end. Not my fastest marathon – but definitely quicker than my debut 4 hours 16 from Kielder!

The crowds, the live music and everything was amazing, it really does carry you through. A pleasant surprise was picking up an extra small finishers tshirt that actually fitted! I know enough of you have heard me whine that barely any of my race tshirts actually fit! And, another goodie bag to finish. I then hobbled, and I really mean hobbled along to find my family.

The organisation really has to be praised as everything the whole day was so smooth and efficient, from the underground being free for all runners to baggage buses and everything being really speedy. Also we went out for pizza later that night where all marathon runners got a free pizza – yay free pizza!!

Thank you Claremont for giving me the opportunity to run London where the ballot has rejected me for three years! I recommend to you all to keep trying to get in. I said never again yesterday, but today I’m coming round to the idea of doing a fourth marathon…