15 things you didn’t know about the London marathon…(and possibly don’t want to)
(Wally showing off his medal)
I ran my first marathon last week: sheer good luck had me clutching a Waverley Harrier place last December. This post is for fellow newbies who might be thinking of running London. (Note: all this applied in the 5 hour departure slot – speedy people might have quite a different experience).
1. You will love toilets. Before the race, you will go to every toilet you see. You will deeply regret getting on the ONLY train up to London with no toilets, having drunk gallons of water. You will obsess about whether you need a wee or a poo all morning. If you are a lady, however, it is unlikely that you will enjoy the female urinals. Despite all your toilet going and your best attempts with a she-wee, you will STILL need the toilet by the time your pen is ready to go (duck left just before the start line – there are some there).
2. You will need lubricant. And not in a fun way. Your bra, panty line, inner thighs, upper arms, anywhere that remotely risks a chafe. You want to apply this before you leave, in the comfort of your own home; not being shielded by Sharon from Bradford in the middle of a field near the bag drop. (Thanks, Sharon, wherever you are).
3. You might not want your name on your shirt. The shouting is pretty full on, and having your name on your shirt might have you mildly homicidal by mile 19. Also, you can’t tell who is shouting, so it might be hard to spot your friends.
4. You might want your name on your shirt if you are more of a people person and genuinely think the cheering of random strangers will be helpful. (This is not me).
5. Seeing friends and family will be like seeing angels. Chris Peck’s voice around half way was music to my ears, as was Harriet’s at mile…(I was too tired to know what mile). Seeing hubby, my dad and my brother at mile 18 brought a tear to my usually dry eyes.
6. You want to start in the right pen. A lot of people stop and walk, and they walk 3 abreast. When the road narrows, it’s tricky. Don’t be modest: estimate a decent time (for you), so you get put in the right starting pen.
7. You’ll learn to tap dance around water bottles: as you get further along, they are rolling all over the place. Get your twinkle toes ready. And the sticky mile after each Lucozade stop is something else.
8. You’ll love it. You’ll be amazed you did it, you’ll feel like a champion, invincible. You might make major purchases in the days after. (Anyone want to come and see my lovely garden pod?)
9. You might hate it – at moments during the race. Tiredness, other people, noise, aforementioned sticky road and bottles. It’s more chaotic than I expected. There are some very drunk people from mile 18 onwards and you might want their beer. Just. Keep. Running.
10. Don’t start too fast. Rein yourself in – it’s so tempting to speed off. If you do, you will probably pay for it later. This was the best advice I received (thanks, Kat).
11. Take the right gels and practice them in training runs. They’re icky, but they really do work. They also break up the monotony – no, really.
12. You’ll hate toilets – after the run. And stairs. Toilets and stairs will be your sworn enemies for 2 days afterwards.
13. Listen to all that advice. I would have had a much tougher run without the great advice from fellow Harriers. Thanks, everyone.
14. The tracker keeps you accountable. I told everyone my race number so they could track me on the day: I had people tracking me from all parts of my life. It kept me motivated during the race. I didn’t want anyone sucking their teeth at my erratic pace.
15. You should do it. You can do it. I thought I could never do it; I SWORE never to do it. 5 years ago, I hadn’t run more than 3 miles. A lot of amazing Waverley Harriers will lift you along in your training – and in the race. Before you know it, you’ll be almost passing out in front of a St John’s Ambulance bloke just after the finishing line. It’s glorious.