I crossed the finish line on the hottest day on record in 4:56, I raised my arms to step over the threshold and at that point it felt like I was in a bubble. Full of emotion I bumbled forwards smiling when asked by the photographers, bowing my head for the medal all without really hearing the instructions or even acknowledging them.
Almost 5 hours of concentration had numbed my senses, with my medal bashing against my chest I headed forward in search of the baggage lorry taking on sips of water. I didn't even have to attempt saying my number, the wonderful baggage handler spotted me coming, handed me my bag without me having to break my short stride and sent me on my way with a "well done lad". I spotted a kerb close by and lowered myself onto it as delicately as I could manage, with Buckingham Palace off to my right in the distance I pulled off my trainers and socks. The cool air hitting my feet was like a dream come true, a quick inspection showed no damage, fantastic news.
Legs stretched out in front of me, leaning back on my arms I raised my head and quietly said to myself "you did it" Composing myself to clear the lump in my throat I rang my wife and said something similar like "I did it".
Lets rewind to 4am that day, lying awake in my Travelodge room with the sound of London crashing in through the window I was thinking how will I be able to run in a few hours unless I get some sleep. I saw each hour before turning off the alarm at 7am, fresh out the shower standing stark bollock naked I liberally applied sun cream and vaseline in equal measure to various areas of my body, dressed and ready I headed to breakfast which was Sunday's first challenge, I didn't want to eat a thing but knew I needed porridge, honey and a banana.
Staying at Tower Bridge made my commute to the start stress free via tower gateway, simply on Marathon morning follow everyone else. As the lycra clad herds headed to greenwich I took the chance to grab a photo with puff the magic dragon. Fair play to Puff.
No need for a warm up as the climb up to the holding area was more than enough, it reminded me a little of the walk up to Wollaton Hall between the rows of trees. This is where I met up with the rest of team Movember, a lovely friendly bunch, we shared a few training stories, got to know each other then dispersed to our seperate starting positions. I stood in wave 6 quietly just listening to the stories of those around me, sandwiched in with the @marathondj lightening the mood with his music and rainbow leggings.
10.34 and my self preservation started. Before the weather reports I had already been warned by experienced runners to not go off like a shot but with the increased temperature all expetations of finishing times had been dropped. I started at a very comfortable pace, taking in as much as I could and funnily enough like a wild bird on the Savanna I took shade by a Rhino named Ben for the first 2 miles. The crowds through Greenwich were out in force, from kids with water pistols to the bloke on the balcony playing Spandau Ballet - Gold.
The first time I heard my name shouted was early on and it made my whole body shiver, wow, now I understand what all you past runners mean, from this point despite how my body felt I made a concerned effort to raise my head, push my chest out and smile. Every age and ethnicity had come out to support and enjoy the day so I dished out a few high fives to the young supporters. It was at mile 3 when we joined the starters from Green and Blue that I took a moment to appreciate the size of the event as I was taken along in a sea of people. I took on fluids at every mile from mile 3, a huge thanks to anyone who handed me water who I didn't acknowledge at the time. We snaked around the London in the heat, we couldn't have asked for a better day to take in the skyline.
You know the famous saying your parent's taught you as a child "Never take sweets from strangers, unless your running a marathon" well now it makes perfect sense. They could have had a sign above them saying week old sweets found down the back of a sofa and licked by my dog and I would have still accepted them by the handful from the kind London folk. I think my favourite food sight was the two pensioners slicing oranges by the side of the road, they couldn't cut them quick enough bless them.
If you have never seen the Cutty Sark, it's a huge ship, god knows how you turn the corner and boom it's there upon you, probably the most impressive sight for me, maybe that's because you go all the way round it. Still the crowd are going wild and everytime I hear my name my hairs stand on end. Truly magnificent.
From here the landmarks come thick and fast, even in the most surprising spots there is something magical happening like tucked under a shaded bridge where I was greeted with the thundering sound of steel drums reverberating off the concrete surroundings. I would say the real party atmosphere starts just before tower bridge and as you cross the thames you have to pinch yourself to believe what you are seeing. Don't worry for too long though as you soon come crashing down a couple of miles later as you see runners on the opposite side of the road heading for the finish as the road you're on takes you further away from the finish lane.
I readjust my S&B trucker cap and knuckle down to get through this, then a wave of emotion slaps me square in the face at around mile 18, sh*t I wasn't expecting that. Now is the time to tick the miles off and head for home. This is all happening to me and no doubt most runners around me whilst our family and friends have their own battle with heat and congested streets just to catch a glimpse as we shuffle by. I am now aiming for mile 25 to catch a little glimpse and then from the right of the road at mile 23 I hear Team Wally in full voice and with a quick snap of the neck I manage to get to see them all shouting my name.
Westminster is in the distance with just a few right hand turns between me and the finish line I muster enough strength to head for home with a smile strapped from ear to ear. With 600m to go a Marshall says softly "C'mon Wally just one and a half tracks to go" however she didn't say it would feel like running through treacle with a washing machine strapped to your back.
I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has sponsored me. Especially all the businesses that sponsored my race vest and team Movember for having me.
- Bad to the Bone Rebel Club
- Sauce & Brown
- British Bike Hire
- Reece Drywall
For anybody who may of missed it first time round, here is the BLOG I wrote about why I chose to run the VLM for charity.
As of today my total raised stands at £3207 which I am very proud of.