Let me tell you about the highlight of my year. And I don’t mean the highlight of my year up until now. The London Marathon is the highlight of my entire year which includes the 8 months that have not happened yet. Maybe a couple weeks into 2017 as well. No more than 3. But probably just 2016. Certainly no later than March 2017.
To be frank, the prospect of writing about my London Marathon experience is daunting. My vastly limited capacity to express myself in general, but especially with words, means that this entry will inevitably fall short of conveying what being a part of this incredible event truly meant to me.
Many of you probably don’t know this but the London Marathon is the largest single day fundraising event in the World. Since the race started in 1981, it has raised over £700 million! That is an INSANE amount isn’t it? I was honoured to do my small part for this effort by raising money for the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation (there is still time to donate here). To up the ante a lot of folks run the race in a costume (because I guess running the race alone isn’t enough). This really adds to the entertainment of the event. The best costume I saw was a guy dressed up as a storm trooper! I paced myself off a lobster for a couple of kms and was passed in the final stretch by someone dressed in a heart costume! And I am not talking about a gradual over taking, the dude whizzed past me like I was standing still! There was also a guy who ran with a fridge on his back! I’ve been inspired with a lot of costume ideas of my own, most of which involve dressing up like wrestlers from the 90s. My favourite is the Warriorathon. This involves dressing up as the Ultimate Warrior and sprinting the entire marathon. Estimated finish time is around 45 minutes. Maybe add a few minutes for the occasional Gorilla Press during the race.
On to my race experience. I am going to start with the crowds. They were bananas! Wall to wall the entire race. The support was unreal. And I don’t want to treat that as a throw away statement. I genuinely mean that the support was UNREAL . It is an incredible feeling to have an entire city (of 8 million!) rooting for you. Blokes with pints yelling “Come on Matt! You got this!”. Mothers supportively telling you “Good work Matt. Keep going!”. Fathers nodding with approval when you catch their eye as you run by. Kids sticking their hands out desperately seeking a high five (of which countless were delivered!). That really is an unreal thing to experience over the course of a marathon. Normal life unfortunately never offers you that much support and encouragement. Now I am not so delicate that I need constant encouragement but I think it is important to always remember that some positive words can go a long way. Don’t be stingy with them.
I am very happy with the race I ran. Things were running pretty smooth until 28km (roughly two-thirds the way through). Up until then I felt like a million bucks: headphones out, smile plastered on my face, chatting with other runners, high-fiving everything in sight. The whole nine. After 28km the legs started to feel a tad heavy. Runners call this “hitting the wall”. This is when the lactic acid build in your legs starts to diminish their interest in functioning properly. Definitely was a bit early to start struggling but I did manage to keep things relatively on track although with a complete change of attitude: headphones in, pain etched over my face, head down, and numerous hands left untouched. I ended up doing the 2nd half 8 minutes slower than the first and came in at 3:18:31 overall. I was hoping for under 3:15 but I am pretty damn satisfied with 3:18!
After I ran my first marathon six years ago I said that “I will never run another marathon”. It took 6 and a half months to convince myself to run another. After the London Marathon it took about 18 hours. I have a rough blueprint around running the remaining five major marathons: New York, Boston, Chicago, Tokyo, and Berlin!
Perhaps the biggest highlight of the whole weekend was having a little bit of home waiting for me at the finish line.
As you may know, right after the marathon I shipped off to the Netherlands and Belgium for a 10 day run around. So for those of you who have grown weary of me writing about running, stay tuned!