I was fortunate enough to be allocated a club place for London 2016 back in November. As soon as I knew that I would be taking part the London bug swept over me and I was on countdown! I didn’t even mind those long runs in the dark, dreary January mornings – it would all be worth it! Layering up for winter training (woolly hat meticulously placed!) was just a small price to pay and the early alarm clocks on the weekends were valuable to training.
The excitement literally lasted for months and the anticipation throughout the race week was fantastic, although a sense of anxiety also came in waves too. Did I have enough gels? Had a packed enough running outfits? (You would think that I was going to be running for months!) Was my Garmin charged? Would the weather be ok? The weekend rapidly approached however and straight after work on the Friday we headed down to the Capital…
The experience of the entire weekend was simply superb. Visiting the ExPo to pick up my number and listening to some of the talks, a last minute carb-loaded pasta meal with my family the night before the big day, wandering up to the start – I wanted to soak up every moment.
On race day I got up extra early (of course!), headed to the Tube to ensure that I was at the start in Blackheath with plenty of time to spare. The atmosphere was exhilarating, with a whole array of costumes and vests with people’s names proudly ironed onto the front. I chatted to people at the start line, laughing and joking, but there was a definite feeling of tentativeness and apprehension too! Then we started …
For me, one highlight was definitely at mile three when all the runners merge and you see just how many people are taking part. I was one of those 40,000 people. This seemed surreal! The crowds definitely lift you, as hearing people calling your name, cheering and clapping gave me a boost. I was mindful that I kept thanking everyone who clapped – It felt rude not to! – However, realistically I needed to save my energy, as 26.2 miles is hardly a stroll! Seeing my family at the Cutty Sark at mile six was a wonderful boost. They were equipped with their signs, which read: ‘This girl runs for oatcakes’ and ‘Go Charlotte’ t-shirts! A little bit of home!
Mile thirteen was a dreamlike highlight for me. The view of Tower Bridge was staggering and I could not help but take a sneaky photograph to help savour the moment! Running across the bridge amidst the other runners and witnessing the many charities spectating and applauding was simply brilliant.
The only point where I felt that the run was difficult was around mile sixteen. I had seen some spectacular sights, even had my two seconds of fame on TV next to Batman and Robin(!) but I was very aware that there was still a long distance to go. The trick is though, not to count down, but to realise how far you have come and before I knew it, I had reached the mile twenty mark and was then hugging the pink ladies at mile twenty-five. I blame them for my emotion at this point and my inability to speak!
Westminster. Big Ben. Then, the Mall … I was at the finish. A smile fixed to my face, a medal round my neck, bag full of goodies (I definitely appreciated the foodie treats!) and hugs from my family and friends. I could not quite believe what I had done! I had fallen in love with running again. My plan had been a success: 1.) Soak up every second … of the whole weekend and entire experience. 2.) Hope to say that it was the best thing you have ever done at the end.
London. You did not disappoint. Thank you for the memories!