Yesterday saw thousands of runners take over London for the day, conquering a huge challenge and raising millions of pounds for charity in the process. I was one of those lucky runners and 24 hours later I'm still in awe of what a spectacular and unique occasion it was.
I really am bursting with pride. If you watched or are feeling inspired, great! But before you sign up to a marathon, here are just a few things that no one tells you about running your first marathon.
1) The emotional onslaught you face on race day and the week prior.
A combination of nerves, anxiety, impatience, excitement and cold hard fear. If only the armada of butterflies in my stomach were able to propel me across the line. Instead by mile 20 it felt like they had all turned back to caterpillars. Which was ironic because it was about that point when a caterpillar overtook me.
Everyone talks of “hitting that wall” but no warned that I may hit boredom. Four and a half hours is a long time to be doing one thing, and at times you find yourself being hypnotised by a swinging ponytail. Luckily the boredom passes quickly. Unluckily it's soon followed by pain.
3) Nothing goes according to plan
The race gels you have been practising with suddenly make you feel sick. Your activity tracker doesn't work and you thought you'd be able to hear your parents scream your name but didn't. These unexpected moments stress you out!
4) You run more miles than you signed up for
Weaving in and out is not the one! A slalom of empty water bottles, discarded gel packets and the odd rhinoceros. I think I notched up a half marathon with just my zig-zagging.
5) The feeling of astonishment when...
...being overtaken by people and objects that should never assume that role. Mr. Blobby, a Womble and at one point a guy with an actual washing machine on his back. Apparently Currys closes early on Sundays. I was even shamed back into running by a wonderful OAP called Jeremy. What a legend!
Despite all of the above, the atmosphere of togetherness is incomparable. The strangers that dedicate their entire day to coming out to spur you on; the runners who are in just as much pain as you but find the strength to reassure you that you'll be ok; your deeper bonding between your family and friends . It's beautiful. It's brilliant. It's the best worst idea I ever had!
I'm sore today but pain is temporary and the memories I created yesterday will last a lifetime. It's definitely too early to say whether I'd ever put myself through that again but I'm proud to say I did and I managed to smile through most of it.
Well done to everyone who completed the marathon, thank you to everyone who supported and if ever you get the opportunity to do it for yourself... well, just think long and hard!