Huge congratulations to our supporter Robert Corry from Fareham, who successfully completed the London Marathon last Sunday in 4:07:30!
He told us about the experience:
“I travelled to London on the train on Saturday morning and went straight to the Excel centre to register and collect my goody bag. I arrived just after midday and was pleasantly surprised to find that there were no queues as I had come to expect from the advance literature. Other than register, the most critical thing I did at Excel was to get my name printed on my shirt! Many blogs recommended this so that people could call your name during the race.
Then it was off to check in at my hotel and take a few hours rest before the CAFOD Pasta Party! A small group of us got together to stock up on our carbohydrates. It was great to meet some of the other runners and to hear their stories. Some final details from the CAFOD team ensured I could find the CAFOD supporters during the run as well.
By the time I got back to the hotel I felt like I had a long time on my legs that day and hoped it wouldn’t affect my race but tried not to let it worry me and focused on preparation through drinking fluids and eating some nuts. I was up early on Sunday and had a good breakfast – making sure to stock up on carbohydrates – muesli, toast and fruit! I took some of the freebies from the goody bag that looked like they might give an extra boost. I, also, took my beetroot shot – the latest recommended fad for pre-run preparation!
Conditions were beautiful before the race, it was quite cool early on but was beginning to warm up nicely at about 09:00 when I changed into my running gear and handed in my bag – the poncho from CAFOD was just right to keep me warm enough until the start.
The numbers at the start were unbelievable – people of all shapes, sizes and age! Everyone paid respect for Boston through the 30 second silence and most were wearing their Black ribbons as well. This was a poignant moment – being part of a Marathon brought home how senseless this was against people having a good time and most raising money for hundreds of different charities. Shortly afterwards, we got under way – gradually making our way to the start and getting into a comfortable stride. The number of runners was daunting and it soon became clear that my pace would have to match that of the other runners. This was probably a good thing because it made sure that I didn’t start too quickly.
I had planned to do the race in about 4 hours (a little under if possible) and was on target early on but it became too difficult to get around other runners so I decided to relax a little and enjoy the experience! And what an experience it was, supporters lined virtually every single mile – just one or two gaps. They cheered, shouted out our names and gave lots of encouragement. The party atmosphere was amazing too, with many bands and live music at various points around the course. Others were handing out banana, oranges and Jelly Babies! CAFOD had three support areas, it was encouraging to see them and to thank them for their support, they were great!
From a running point of view, the early part of the race went very well, I took plenty of drink – a mixture of water and Lucozade Sport – it was so good not to have to carry these (like in training) and to know that they were available at very regular intervals. I took some Gels as well, hoping they would help with later in the race because I have struggled in training at around the 20 mile mark. Getting to Tower Bridge was a wonderful landmark and knowing that I was almost halfway there. By the time I got to Mile 17 my stomach began to feel like it was shutting down (I have had similar problems in training) but I decided to risk one more Gel to keep me going – that was a mistake – my stomach had a violent reaction and I was afraid my race was over. Luckily, I was able to recover and keep going but decided – no more Sports Drinks or Gels – stick to water.
It was around then that I started to realise that all we effort with carbohydrates and drinks before the race, gels and drinks early in the race might be paying off. I had never put so much emphasis on these things during training (partly due to the practicality of carrying so many drinks) but decided that this advice from many bloggers couldn’t do me any harm! I was able to keep drinking some water but was surprised when I got to 20 miles that I was still able to keep going, my legs were getting heavy but I wasn’t completely running out of energy, which was happening during training. Probably for psychological reasons, the last 6 miles seemed to take forever, I thought I would never get to the end of the Embankment to the 1 mile to go mark! It felt more difficult to keep going but I was surprised at the number of other runners who were stopping or slowing down dramatically. It always feesl good to be the one overtaking rather than being overtook! Finally seeing Big Ben was a delight, followed shortly afterwards by One Birdcage Walk (Headquarters of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers – I am a Mechanical Engineer!). Birdcage Walk never felt so long before, another street that couldn’t end quickly enough until we turned around to the front of Buckingham Palace and finally down The Mall to the finish. What a relief and I was surprised that I didn’t collapse, I’ve felt much worse after training runs.
I was very proud to get my medal and definitely felt that I had earned it, I was elated when I went for my finishers’ photo and to collect my belongings. After some stretching I made my way to the CAFOD after race party. I wondered whether I would make it up the steps to Waterloo Place but managed them reasonably well. Then I got to the hotel and was sent downstairs to the party, I nearly fell down the stairs – walking, going up the stairs were no problem, but going downstairs was next to impossible! CAFOD looked after us very well, we had a shower, a massage and something to eat – perfect to set me up for the training journey home. It was good to meet most of the other runners and to talk about how it went – they all did very well!”