Monday, April 30, 2018

2018 Virgin Money London Marathon

I did it!
I ran the 2018 Virgin London Marathon!
... and boy was it hot!

It was so hot, I kept my throw away shirt in my drop bag! We were all sweating just walking around the start area. They kept announcing at the start to pace yourself 20-30-seconds slower due to the heat. This was a first.

Also a first, my introduction to "Stand and Pee"
You know you are a (female) runner when ...
Enough of the silliness. It was time to make my way to dropping off my bag, and getting to my corral. Before I knew it, there she was - The Queen, on a huge screen over my head - starting the race while standing in front of Windsor Castle. The Queen looked beautiful - red outfit  - with a red hat to match, of course!

The Queen started the race! 
We moved up in our corrals. 
Then, we were off! 

I started out feeling really strong, in spite of the heat! Another first - first time I had water bottles given out on a course. I would grab one, and keep it for a few miles, toss the empty, and get another. I was so afraid of getting dehydrated, and also afraid of hyponeutremia. The marathon is tough - there's a lot to juggle.

As for my nutrition, I took a Glukos at mile 5, another at mile 10, and my first Gu at mile 15. It was so hot, that first Gu exploded all over my face and hands when I opened it. It was quite messy, and I couldn't wait to get to the next water stop. My next Gu's would be at mile 19, and then mile 23. It was so hot, though, I struggled to finish them, as I was very nauseous.

In spite of the heat, it was so exciting to run along the River Thames. I also couldn't wait to run over Tower Bridge! Before I got to the bridge, there was Ron! He was in front of the Cutty Sark! I felt so blessed to have seen him. I saw him two more time - so he says - I just remember seeing him one other time. Definitely runner's brain there toward the end.

It got a little less noisy around the Docklands, and I remember feeling pretty good still. It was just really hot. Then, we were approaching the Tower Bridge. As I ran over the Tower Bridge, I was thanking God for the opportunity. The crowds were great!

Coming over the Tower Bridge

Pointing to My Mercy Band with the
Tower Bridge behind me
Once I passed the bridge, I started to get a really bad side stitch. I hate stitches! It forced me to slow down. The pain traveled from my left side to my right side, and hung like a knot under my right rib cage. Ech. Was it my stomach? Was it my diaphragm? Was it because I was dehydrated? Was it all of the above?
I know one thing for sure: 
It freakin' hurt.
This happened to me one other time during a long run, a few years ago. I had to stop, run a few miles, then stop, and run a few more - just to get home. But I wasn't on a long run, I was running the London Marathon ... and I wasn't planning on stopping!
There was NOOOO way I was stopping!
I trained all winter - and this winter was tough! 
Cold and snowy, with bitter winds.
Through the Snow
Every Week on the Track!
Bundled Up Again!
Are We Having Fun Yet?
Trying to Defrost My Face After Long Runs
with My Hot Hands!
 There was no way that I was walking or stopping after all that training!

The pain grew. 
It felt as if someone just kept dribbling punches into my abdomen.

One Bright Side: No diarrhea this go 'round! 
Hey, you gotta be grateful for the little things.

I was also grateful for the crowds! The London crowds were amazing - going over the tower bridge, they were louder than the Wellesley girls of the Boston Marathon. There were whistles being blown, those inflatable cheer sticks being clanged together everywhere, and people screaming. I got a kick out of the crowds  - they didn't scream, "Great Job" in London, they screamed, "Well Done!"

It was so very sunny ...so very hot. I looked up at the towers on the bridge and noticed how there wasn't one cloud in the sky! Maybe that's why after this, there were lots of runners who started to fade. I heard a lot of people vomiting. I saw a lot of people off to the side surrounded by volunteers. I was nervous. I started to get a pounding heat headache. At the water stops, I would take a water bottle, drink a little, then pour water over my head, then drink some more. It was hot!

Next, onto the Docklands, only about 10 more miles to go. I fought the affects of the heat, but somewhere between miles 18 to 20, there were lots of twists and turns - like by Canada Square. I reached out to a man next to me and grabbed his arm because I thought I was going to pass out. He said, "Are you ok?" I answered, "I'm just a little dizzy. I'm sorry." All those turns, with the heat, and the crowd screaming, I wasn't sure if I was going to make it. This was the the 3rd time the heat got to me where I thought,
God, I hope I don't pass out. 
If I pass out, I'll get trampled on.... 
Next onto Commercial Road and The Highway. More screaming crowds. Thankfully, no one screamed - you only have "X" more miles. Everyone just kept yelling, "You are almost there. Keep going, Keep going ...
KEEP GOING!" 

Then about mile 24, you go under Blackfriars underpass. There was quiet serenity and it was cool in this shady underpass. It was a welcomed relief. Lots of people started to walk here.
And I thought how lovely it would be to stop ... 
only to be met by the vicious, very aggressive tiger inside of me who screamed:
You ain't stopping, girl! 
Remember that time you trained in 1 degree and your lashes froze?
True Story!
You ain't stopping!
Thank You Rebecca, You Made Me Go on That Run That January Morning
This Was the Run that Helped Me Push Past Those Tired Legs at the End of The London Marathon
I also reminded myself of an article my friend, Bill, forwarded to me before the race:
I particularly noticed who was doing the walking at this time, and I must say, it was mostly men. I thought of Desi in the Boston Marathon, only one week earlier. Desi didn't stop, she just kept plugging away:
That's what you gotta do - 
Just keep plugging away.
Plug Away!
I also reminded myself that everyone's legs hurt, everyone was tired, and I wasn't alone. I would hang on one person, until I passed them, then I'd fine another, and another...

My shoulders ached from cringing so tight from the ab pain. I couldn't wait to finish. I just kept repeating all the way through the Victoria Embankment, "Don't you dare stop! If you stop, you will just keep stopping and you trained too hard to stop." At this point, I didn't care how slow I went, as long as I went.

Then, I approached Buckingham Palace. The crowds were getting louder and louder! I heard an announcer say, "Well, here we are, approaching 4 hours." I thought, "Oh no, I told Rebecca that I would run Boston with her. I have to get in under 4 hours to qualify."
So I took off!
If you look closely,
you'll see  I was grimacing!
I rounded the corner, with Buckingham Palace now at my back, and ran as fast as I could. I saw the time as I got closer 3:59:30, 40, 50 - oh nooooooo." I finished! I was a little disappointed in myself - I didn't think I finished under 4 hours.

Kicking to a Strong Finish for that BQ!
Once through the chute, I almost collapsed. A volunteer grabbed me,
"You have to keep moving. 
I will help you."

I thought I was going to be sick, I felt myself grab onto him and I heard him say, "That's it, hold onto me." We walked for a bit, I caught my breath, and said, "Thank you, thank you so much, I think I'm ok now." He told me that I had to keep going straight so I could get my medal and a goodie bag. I don't remember taking this picture.

I don't even know how I got a drink that was like Gatorade, which I was so grateful for because I felt super nauseous and my feet were cramping up on me. My feet felt like two balls in my sneakers. I couldn't wait to sit down and massage my dogs!

I picked up my drop bag, walked a little more, my poor shoulders - they ached from being so scrunched up. I stopped off to the side, under some trees, and got my phone, looking to text and find Ron. I saw Coach texted me: "Great job in tough conditions! You finished: 3:56:23"
3:56:23!
A few seconds faster than Berlin, and...
a BQ!
I threw my drop bag down and punched my fist in the air and screamed,
 "Yes, Yes, Yes!" 
There were people waiting for their loved ones, they had no idea why I was so happy, but they started to clap for me.
It was my own personal fan club! 
Well, I can dream!

It's not easy to train in cold weather and run a race in warmer weather. I did this once before - when I ran in Mississippi. I remember wondering why that race felt so hard. I remember looking up some research, like this article in Competitor: It takes about 2 weeks to acclimate to warmer weather. This acclimation period includes your becoming a better sweater, and having an increase in plasma volume. I believe it!

Although I am happy with my time, I still think I could have run faster if I didn't have that awful pain across the top of my abs - even in spite of the heat. The pain actually lasted for 4 days. Every time I would get hungry, or walk, I would feel this knot, starting from under my right rib cage travel across my abs, Of course, I self-diagnosed every disease under the sun, but when I awoke on Thursday, it was as if there was never any pain. Sort of like running a marathon:
"You gotta forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can't know what's coming!" ~ Frank Shorter.
Time Heals All Wounds ...
Tokyo... here I come!
A Little Hard, but
Tastes So Good!
Train Smart,
Train Fearless,
Run Fearless,
Run to Inspire,
Run for Peace!