Once was hard: A second time was a pleasure.
Once was hard: A second time was a pleasure.
The day started with that annoying Iphone Alarm. Today however was no ordinary day it was London time…………
London Marathon time. Getting out of bed was easy. Obviously it was easier for my amazing girlfriend Stacey and sister Faye who were already up. They were buzzing while getting ready for their own dash around London in an attempt to get a slight glimpse of me and to be there for me as my support for the day. I thank you both, anyone who has ran a race will tell you just having someone in the crowd supporting you is always the difference, epically when its your loved ones.
06:00: Nigel walks through the door and we head to the car to drive down to the ExCel to park the car saying bye to Stacey and Faye as we buzz our way out the door.
07:15: We arrive at the ExCel Centre paying our £15 parking charge for the day, not bad considering all transport in London was free for the day to runners.
As we got on the DLR at compass house many other runners congregated. A slight drizzle in the air and in true pre race style everyone over analysed the last 6 months of training, the weather and most importantly the route to the start line. It was surprising how many different routes people had come up with. We jumped on the next train to arrive and 30 minutes or so later arrived at Greenwich station. It was easy from here……………….yeah right!
Jumping off the train with all that nervous energy finding the start would prove to be easy unlike what was about to follow. Picture this 07:45ish, Greenwich, London, Sunday morning with a stampede of people all heading in the same direction, all heading for the start line of the London Marathon 2015. Everyone walked together chatting to strangers along the way smiles everywhere to be seen, even if they were nervous ones, it was awesome to see everyone in London getting on and helping each other out. This has to be one of the most important observations and memories of the day, just like two year previous, everyone liked each other and wanted to support one another. As I walked to the start I thought to myself: “what a pleasure it was to be part of such an event. The London Marathon 2015, wow”.
The next hour was a little bit of a blur to be honest somehow I got changed and managed to get in contact with Stacey and Faye. They had made it, “LEGENDS” I thought to myself. They actually got out of bed and made their way to the start line from Cambridge just like Nige and I had just in the off chance they could say good luck on the start line. I feel very lucky and extremely grateful for the effort 2 of the 4 most important ladies in my life made. I knew Mum and Mich were watching in their respective location around the world, and to be honest at the time I would rather have been in New York or Tenerife than at the start line of The London Marathon……………………..NO F%^&*($ WAY, Loads of time to go to those places, I was about to start The London Marathon. What a pleasure, what an opportunity and what a reward on a personal level.
Stacey and Faye had made it. They were at the red start area and just needed directing so they could see me. They couldn’t come into the area I was in as this was for runners only, however could stand along side the start pens the other side of the road. We had some banter as we stood roads apart but all with massive smiles on our faces. I then explained I would drop my bag head to the loo and line up in my pen, 6, and gave them direction to where that was so we could literally touch through the fencing, which seemed like jail bars at the time. I arrived on the start line with about 20 minutes to spare before the gun went off. We stood sharing stories of the journey to the start line and confirming the locations I could expect to see them along the way. I felt so privileged to have 2 very important people from my life there supporting me. Faye’s support throughout has been amazing and I thank you sister for this. As for Stacey and her support since we got together well, second to none, and put into perspective the importance of positive people in your life making my experience from a couple of years ago look extremely average. Thank you gorgeous you and no one else will ever know what impact you had with your support at this event, its personal and a personal feeling. Maybe a few of you who have done events may know what I mean.
The man on the mic announced that the race had started. Remembering from a couple of years ago I knew it would take 10 minutes or so to even make it to the start. 10 minutes later we were off. This is what I remember along with the reasons for every mile I ran in Italics:
- For my own personal achievement – not for recognition, just for me. Less than 400m into the race and the bush on the right was just calling me. I had to stop so soon. Minutes later my race could then start. I remember in the first mile, running past many, but one in particular was a girl on crouches. This was so inspiring to see so I wished her luck as I went past.
- For my Girlfriend Stacey, 2nd March is your birthday. Mile 2 for you baby inspiring me to get round this course today.
I remember being in mile 2 and thinking blimey one down already 24.5ish to go, I knew better than to let this thought hang around too long.
- The want to be better for my self and my partner in life.
As I ran through mile 3 I remember the 3 different starts merging together and the atmosphere was amazing, runners in great spirit as they all came together like a scene in Brave heart.
- The number of miles I first ran when I decided to make a change.
- For everyone who wishes they could but never get the opportunity to.
- How many make up the rest. Charlie, Lurch, Owen, Sach, Lewis, Cons – for our friendship and support since 2000.
- For those who lost lives in New York in the 2012 storm in your memory.
At mile 7 as I ran round the ship a camera crew rushed to pick out a runner. It was Chris Evans. In the distraction of seeing what was happening I nearly missed Stacey and Faye who were there with the boards Stacey had made. I gave them a massive cuddle and kiss each and continued on. After this I felt emotional.
- 8th August sister’s birthday, for you as always being the one to listen and being there from the day I was born.
- For my Mum 9th Jan is your birthday thanking you for all your support through my fitness journey which allows me to be at London 2015.
- 10 years later after giving up one dream due to genetics I would fulfill another sporting dream on this day.
- I know this will be a hard mile, not half way yet and no where near……….just get there!!!!!
In the mile I knew I would struggle in I made friends with “Andy’s toys”. Earlier on in the year at the Silverstone half marathon I was spectating and had seen these guys running in the same fancy dress. A box with the 3 of them in dressed as Woody, Jessie, and Buzz. This help me through the 1 mile I didn’t have a reason to run in and the mile which I knew would be the hardest mentally.
- 12 weeks till Ironman, symbolizing all that needs to be completed before then.
One of the most amazing moments in the marathon for me this, turning the corner to see Tower Bridge. One of our capital cities most well known sites and I was running across it. The atmosphere was indescribable literally pushing you through this amazing moment almost too quickly.
- Half way and the number of half marathons I have completed, remembering my journey and achievement so far.
As I ran through the half way marker I looked over to my left watching the elite runners and fast fun runners pass the 22 mile marker on the other side of the road. Feeling inspired and demoralized at the same time I continued to watch. Lucky for me admiring these amazing runners paid off because just for a second or 2 I got to catch a glimpse of the legend Paula Radcliff as she passed in her final marathon.
- Imagine, believe, achieve, in everything so far and will go on to.
As I ran through one of the locozade gel stations the stickiness of the ground was a weird sensation as you ran. Clearly where runners had dropped gels earlier the road had become very sticky making it hard to lift my feet at times. I also saw the ex Footballer Lee Hendrie during this mile.
- Representing the first 15 kilograms I lost in my weight loss journey and starting to run more regularly.
Funny how my reason prior to the race and what actually happened are linked. It was at the 15 mile marker as I entered the tunnel to cross to the isle of dogs I felt it was time to get rid of some un wanted weight. I needed to go again and have to say along with the many others took this under cover, non-spectator area, to take a toilet break against one of the walls. In a marathon trust me when you have to go you have to go.
- For my Grandfather Marsh – Your memory constantly inspires me.
- £1700 raised for the children supported by east Anglian children’s Hospice
Running through 17 miles I saw the spot from 2 years earlier where I had hit “the wall”. No such problems this time it amazes me how we can achieve anything we want. The progress was clear at this point to see where I had come from in 2 years. It was time to finish for the reason above.
- My Grandfather Elliott – Like Grandad Marsh your memory inspires me.
Literally yards before the 18 mile marker there they were, those signs my amazing lady had made. “go marshy” “ you got this” “I love you” I could see them in the distance. This meant Stacey and Faye. I was so pleased to see them, 18 miles in, tired legs and inspiration needed. Stacey grabbed me as I stopped, kissed me and told me she loved me – what an amazing thing to hear at this point. Faye then grabbed me and said do it for Auntie and Uncle. As I ran off my eyes just filled up and the emotion which came over me in that moment was so surreal. What an amazing feeling to have as you run a race, life put into perspective by your sister while your significant other tells you she loves you. My breath was taken away and this gave me the inspiration to finish this race and be thankful for what I have. Through mile 18 I just remember taking in the sights of Canary Wharf, emotion all over the place wanting to pay forward what I had learnt in the last 5 years. Hard work, Dedication, Resilience, believing in the process, believing in you, all lessons I had learnt. “Look at what you can achieve, you can do anything, you are doing the London marathon and all with a smile on your face”. Tears all gone I would say never put limits on yourself. I did in the past and now they are gone I was lucky enough to have this feeling at mile 18.
- My Uncle Martin who sadly left us too early in 2010.
- For my Auntie Janet who passed away 3 years ago this month. RIP
Just after this mile marker the run started to slow down. I knew I was close and only 10k/6 miles to go but it got so tough. Legs were starting to tighten. It was time to start ticking the miles off one at a time.
- For my Nanna Elliott. 4 times this number is the age you are and you are the strongest lady I know, never giving up in the hardest journey of all.
- My favorite number, no reason why, so I will smile no matter how much pain.
- The House number of Nanna’s, for you RIP never forgotten.
- For my Dad 24th April is your birthday and despite you not being at the event your constant support on my Journey helps at this later stage.
I entered the tunnel. I remember from 2013 this would take us to the embankment area of London. As we went through the tunnel a DJ was blasting out Bob Sinclair. I have never seen anything like it, 24 miles in, everyone shattered and everyone started to dance as we ran, what an amazing moment, what a memory!!!
As I came out the other side of the tunnel in the far distance I knew it wouldn’t be long before seeing Big Ben. Early in March I stood with Stacey on one of the bridges further up river looking at Big Ben. I said to Stacey that day, when I turn that corner in front of Big Ben I would nearly be done on Marathon day. I saw Big Ben and my mind started to wonder about our day out to the Lion King earlier on in the year, which inspired me to get through the next few minutes. People ask about what gets you through. Literally let the mind wonder and find what inspires you and you will be just fine.
- For my sister Faye, your squad number, I appreciate injury sometimes gets in the way of a sporting dream, I will run this mile for you and appreciate I have the opportunity and not take it for granted.
Big Ben was now in sight and read 14:35 on his face. What a sight to look up at. Very British and inspiring at the time, don’t ask me why? Maybe just the grandness of Ben himself I was about to complete something massive in my life?
- Because I can and appreciate the opportunity to be part of this amazing event. To start to finish what I started.
I got to the corner just before the Buckingham palace fountain and remember saying, “don’t forget to look at it”. In 2013 I was feeling the affects of the race so much I forgot to take in the great moment of running past Buckingham palace. I had never seen it in the flesh and this time I soaked it up along with the electric crowd which to be honest was enough to carry anyone over the line.
I turned the corner. I could see it. I could see the finish line. For only the second time ever I was about to finish a marathon. I tried to sprint finish as my glute threatened to go into cramp so decided to make sure I finished in a respectable way. The whole day, Journey flashed before me “wow, you have done it, you have done it for you, you have started to finish what you started”. I went for it, the crowd was amazing and only someone in the crowd or who has ran a marathon will be able to tell you about it or even understand. As I finished index fingers to the sky “for you Marsh, Elliott, Auntie and Uncle” emotions running high. The tears soon stopped and were replaced with laughter as I realised the TV camera was with a presenter and a fancy dress phone box winning the “first place phone box” award. It also hit me I had been beaten by a phone box. Fair play. Never take any achievement personal to an individual away from them no matter how big or small, it just comes across as rude and jealous. If you don’t like people shouting about it on Facebook or through blogs you don’t have to read about it, but don’t put people down for something which has bettered their life.
London 2015 what a journey, what a day, what a moment. Thank you to all my training partners and those who continue to believe in me. Sorry to all those I have had to leave behind or am in the process of leaving behind. Your negativity was or is no good to me. Just remember you can achieve anything you want to achieve, you just need to believe in yourself and the process. Inspire others and bring out the best in yourself to bring out the best in others.
A special thank you to Stacey and Faye for the effort you put in literally running around London to support me. Thank you baby for your support so far it has been amazing and something I have never experienced before and I would say it works the other way all the time. Thank you, you are a special woman and have all my love. A lesson to be learnt from this as well but I’m not a relationship guru, hey I’m no guru at all.
So running my Old Friend, thank you once again for giving me life lessons and experiences I will never forget. I will see you soon Old Friend………………………