It’s hard to put into words how much I enjoyed the VMLM (even though those who saw me in the latter stages of the marathon might think otherwise, so perhaps I will rephrase that and say that I enjoyed approx. 86% of VMLM).
I don’t think I stopped smiling for the first 22 miles. I felt much stronger than my previous two marathons, and it was exciting to experience all my hard work paying off. I also think there’s something magical about running a marathon in your own city. I’m obviously biased when I say that London is the greatest city on earth – but for me, it is. The nostalgia of running past key places from my childhood definitely enhanced my VMLM experience; school trips to the Cutty Sark, summer walks over Tower Bridge etc.
Of course, it wasn’t all sunshine and unicorns. Miles 23 – 26.2 were vile. Just…horrendously VILE. There was a small vomit incident, tears, severe anxiety and a trip to St John’s Ambulance (who were incredible) after almost fainting at the finish line. The final few miles proved to be a tough mental battle, but a mental battle that I powered though due to my amazing supporters, random strangers, and my own willpower.
I don’t really remember crossing through the finish line, as I temporarily lost consciousness and it’s all a bit of a blur. I wasn’t even aware of my new PB until messages from my friends and family started pouring in…in fact, I had just told my group pacer that I had finished in what turned out to be six minutes slower than my chip time!
Just to clarify, I’m aware that losing consciousness after (or during) a marathon is BAD – I’m certainly not proud of this and watching the footage of my wobbly post-finish episode is quite terrifying. One positive aspect to come of this is that after chatting with some medical experts, I understand why I fainted and can therefore work on this aspect of my training next year.
Something else VMLM taught me is to not underestimate the sheer power of my own brain. A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about my anxiety and panic attacks; four days before VMLM, I genuinely considered not running as I wasn’t sure if at that point in time, I would be mentally strong enough. One of my best friends gave me a good talking to, and I am so glad that I listened to her!
There were certainly parts of the marathon that were mentally challenging, particularly those final few miles where I could feel myself growing increasingly panic stricken. However, as mentioned previously, I powered through this mental battle and proved to myself that I am so much stronger than I give myself credit for. Yes, getting a PB was fantastic, but recognising my own inner strength was even more fantastic.
Sorry to end this post on a super cheesy note, but I just wanted to say a big old thank you to my friends, family, South London Harriers, and to everyone else who supported me in the lead up to VMLM. I am beyond grateful.