The big day is here …
Surprisingly I slept really well considering I wasn’t in my own bed and felt particularly nervous before going to sleep. I woke up had a bagel with butter (which I didn’t finish!) and some water for breakfast, showered and got ready for the day ahead. I left Kennington where we were staying at 7.30 and made my way to the tube station. It was a surreal experience knowing that today was the day I’d been building up to and I was feeling extremely anxious at this point. I took the underground to London Bridge, where I took a train to Greenwich for the red start. The atmosphere and buzz of so many runners in one place, was exciting and I quickly started to relax and enjoy the experience.
Pre-race – I met up with Natalie, somebody else running for Liberty and we had some photos with another two running for Brake and a chat about how we were feeling about the hours upon us. I dropped my bag off and then made my way to the start line, at the red start in zone 8.
Start Line – The buzz continued as everybody lined up and I got speaking to a lady who was running for the charity, Wellbeing of Women about the marathon, training, nerves. The 10 second countdown quickly came around although it took me approximately 22 minutes to reach the start line.
Miles 0-6 – The crowds were lined up cheering everyone through the start which was a great starting motive. I headed around the course at a pace quicker than it should have been so I tried to slow it down a little. I took a quick stop at mile 2 thinking the queues would be smaller here than the rest of the course, this probably helped my pace a little. I hit the 5k mark at 34.36 which was about on pace. I happily plodded along in the crowds enjoying everything that was going on around me. At mile 4 a rhino passed, much to my surprise – that early on – laughing along with another runner I questioned “its happening already?”
Miles 6-11 – I hit 10k at 1:07:24 an average pace, maybe a little fast, just before Cutty Sark. The atmosphere around Cutty Sark really picked up with so many people there to cheer the runners on. At this point onwards the main running crowds had started to disperse as everybody found their pace and the spectators started to notice names. I was quite bizarre at first hearing your name shouted and chanted but a great feeling at the same time. It as a definite spur on! It was quite early on at 8.5/9 miles I started to feel the struggle and my hamstring felt tight. I slowed down completely and found out that my boyfriend, his sister and her boyfriend were at the 17k point. I continued on, found them cheering and holding up signs which gave me a push to run for a while longer. At some point along this bit I was passed by somebody dressed in a huge dinosaur costume by this time I learned to laugh it off and ask myself, who’s going to be in more pain tomorrow?
Miles 11-20 – The struggle got real! I slowed down to walking pace just after mile 11, I said to myself .. so many people want to be here and I am so rather than reach a point where I can’t go any further I’m going to smile my way around and enjoy it no matter how long it takes. From mile 12 I ran so that I covered tower bridge, my pace picked up quite a bit here and I looked forward to the dip down at the other side of the bridge to catch my breath. Being so close to the halfway mark I continued a steady running pace and hit 13.1 at 2.29.54. I slowed down then for another mile to sort myself out and found out where my parents would be on route. Not only was I finding it tough but to the left were the runners who had reached the 22-mile mark, I was a little bit envious but knew I’d be in their place soon.
From 14-15 I ran again at a steady pace, this time I said to myself once I hit 16 I’ll only have 10 miles to go, the more I move the closer I will be. My parents were waiting just past the mile 17 mark and I stopped briefly for a quick photo opportunity and a hello! I carried on with a slow run until around 18.3 where I felt a break was deserved.
At some point during this stretch (I can’t remember exactly where) there was a tunnel which went on and on, this was probably the worst part of the whole marathon. Not only was there lack of spectators in the tunnel but there was an awful smell of greasy food, not appetizing or pleasant when you still have a fair way to go!
A fellow runner came up, alongside me and asked how much I’d raised for charity which at this point was £3,360. He then handed me £20 to help make it up. I was surprised, shocked and humbled by this but appreciated it very much. To the man in the yellow dress THANK YOU! From this point on I knew I could do it and the finish line was in slight, I was sore but my head was in it and I realised that it was achievable. After a short walk I ran a bit further to 19.2 where I continued a walk until the 20 mile mark.
Miles 20-25 – Mile 20 was the point in which I really started to feel a sense of achievement. I was down to pretty much walking pace at this point and seeing my parents for the second time put me on a real high. I handed them my belt as it had started to annoy me and had enough gels in my pocket in case that I needed any. My next point was 21.5 where my boyfriend etc were waiting. They didn’t notice me and luckily as I was in line with them I stopped them so ran over to say hello!A message of ‘you can do it’ and I ran a little further. I ran/walked miles 23 and 24 and eventually the 25 mile mark appeared.
Miles 25-26.2 – Feeling very pleased that I saved myself and hitting the 25 mile mark (though my watch battery died) I decided to go for it and not stop until the end. The effort was enforced when I saw my Auntie, Uncle, Auntie’s Sister and family friend. Their cheers pushed me through and helped me focus on the line. Big Ben was in front of me, all I had was two corners to turn. The 1k mark was there, then the never-ending 800 meters and 600. With the 400 meters to go mark in my eyesight I felt ecstatic, 200 meters was only around the corner. Being so focused on this point, it didn’t occur to me until afterwards that I was next to Buckingham Palace! As soon as I hit the 200 meter point I knew the finish line in sight! With all of the energy I had left, I made it. The medal went around my neck and I shed a tear of joy.
I’d done it. 5 hours 39 minutes and 3 seconds later I finally stopped moving and enjoyed the moment. The pledge at mile 10 to smile was the best move and a smile all the way around, cheered back at people shouting my name and loved each and every minute. In the final few steps all I wanted to do was stop but I didn’t want the day to end. I was asked afterwards if I’d do it again and my straightaway answer was YES!
My place for this years Marathon was confirmed on 13th May 2015 by Brake. I entered being inspired from one of my best friends taking part, watching the 2015 London Marathon on television and wanting to do something memorable in the memory of Liberty. When I was offered my place running 5k in one go was a challenge. Looking back at trackers I started running on the 20th May 2015 and I ran 2 miles in over 30 minutes .I can now say that, by no means fast, I’ve completed a marathon which is less than a year is such and achievement in itself. Training has been full of highs and lows and it’s been incredibly tough at times. It’s been cold, windy, snowy, hot, I’ve sacrificed nights out for nights in and pasta for a takeaway but I’ve pushed through to the end.
Not only have I pushed through the marathon and training demands, I’ve held a coffee morning,tombola, quiz night and raffles among other to help raise important funds for Brake, the road safety charity. My current total is £3515.80, more than I ever expected to raise. If anybody would still like to donate, my page is still live – https://www.justgiving.com/Abby-Davies-VLM16.
The journey has been amazing and one I’ll never forget. I’m going to enjoy some time off, lots of wine and food before thinking about my next run!