22 April 2011

Well done Dawn and Ray!

Dawn and Ray's London Marathon stories

Ray's 2011 Marathon Perspective

In order to get off some grass at the end of the race after having completed my free London Pride Beer, I had to crawl to a fence on hands and knees with the aim of using it as support, even then a big chap had to lift me up to my feet.

I think it is fair to say the London marathon is the toughest race I have ever ran, the Howarth Hobble for instance is more of a Sunday afternoon jolly. The Marathon is all about speed and running all the time, any walking or toilet stops and time just fritters away as if you were a time traveller. The London air is generally a few degrees hotter than lakeland and when combined with hot black tarmac I can confirm the desire to stop and walk can become quite intense. For the ordinary Joe, the ability to withstand unrelenting misery makes up 50% of the requirements needed to complete the marathon.

Off to breakfast at 5:45am, where an hour was spent eating loads of Muesli, yogurt and topping it off with sausage, bacon and egg plus some extra salt. Then the one mile walk to the tube station feeling quite sick. The walk from Greenwich tube station to my starting zone was about a further 1.5 miles. So unlike other races we had done over 3 miles before the start. An old wax jacket proved useful as a store for two tubes of extra strong mints and water which was disposed at the start of the race.

The runners are grouped in zones and shortly before the start they are marched up to the start. Its an impressive sight with a long wide avenue stretching into the distance. Indeed it is quite elating, the pre-race faff was over and I could feel the first shiver of anticipation. I had decided for this long range race to imagine I was a twin engined Mosquito overloaded with fuel ready for a long mission and this avenue felt like a runway, the engines were starting. A few pre race nervous laughs about lemons and we were off. Richard Branson started us off and on passing him I had the distinct impression that his head was big, a bit like an over sized spitting image puppet. Hey ho off we go. It was difficult to gain much speed early on. Mike McKenna said he expected a sub 3 hours out of me, so I thought I should at least try and get my average speed up to the required 14Km/Hr. I almost got there though the heat started to take its toll. About a minute was lost with a toilet stop at 17Km or so, I was overheating quite badly. The showers on route were mist style and not the bucket of icy lakeland water that I desired, still they were welcome. Speed was dropping off irritatingly before the half way mark, it was time to hang on in and search out any shade even if if that was the row of supporters at the side. Some St.John ambulance people were holding out gel like substance which I thought was some sort of salty lick, so I grabbed some and put it in my mouth only to find it was Vaseline. By now people were starting to walk and stretch out. They would become time travellers. There was a strong desire to do the same. The legs were on the verge of cramping so a sort of defeatist shuffle took over which lasted to the end. There is one section of the race where you can see runners going the other way, I was surprised to see big Dave Deason leaning over the fence shouting come on Ray. His head looked big just like Richards. Into the last 10Km runners in front would suddenly start veering off to the side out of control or be stood at the side with a brainless smile, pointing into the distance. The support was incredible with more and more "Come on Dallam" shouts. 4 Km from the end, lets try and push that speed up and not be a time traveller. Round into Bird Cage Walk, up to the Palace and into the final 385 yards to the finish. I could stop and sort of walk, what a relief, though walking was not easy. What was needed was beer, two can of which were in my marathon bag stored in the trucks. A little while later after spending several minutes working out how I was going to sit on the grass, falling down seemed to work best, the first can was opened and soon all was right with the world once more. 3hr 21min 28sec.

Rays top tip: take a big coat and a wide necked bottle for a pre race pee 7 minutes before the start.

Dawn's Report

The London marathon is a must for every runner. I must admit I was apprehensive having not done any training since February. Those long runs were non existent in my training program. Having successfully entered, I wanted to do it and I did it. Much the same as Ray's report, it was extremely hot and all those workings out of "I'm going to do my half in this", you know you sort of keep to a plan, but as the pounding of the legs takes its toll you begin to realise "oh heck it's a long way, am I going to manage this". But saying this the support of the crowd was phenomenal and really gave you the incentive to keep going. It was a brilliant experience, one which I would not have missed. The last mile was flooded by a feeling of "Oh I've done it". I did have a cry when I finished, though through exhaustion, exhilaration and achievement. 4hr 40min 16sec