Monday, April 26, 2010

Virgin London Marathon

So another day dawned (well it didn't actually as it was still pitch black!), the alarm went off at 4am and it was action stations again! This time the taxi was at 5:30am so I had lots of time to prepare everything and we managed to get to Blackheath before the road closures came into force (the trains from where we live don't get there in time so we always have to do this).

We have a good routine now where we go to the same little cafe which opens at around 6:30am (but doesn't have a toilet), have a coffee and I have a pain au chocolat until around 7am then we get a newspaper and go to a cafe further up the road (where there is a toilet!) where we bag a table and sit and have a leisurely time with another coffee before heading off to the Green Start pen. It works really well because I don't have to worry about anything and can just relax. I was really stressed the night before and had convinced myself that I wasn't going to be able to run the marathon never mind do any crocheting on the way round so it was important that the morning itself went smoothly.

Thankfully I didn't have any more interviews to do so at 8:15am we headed off to the Green Start. The usual balloons were lined up but the one of the motorbike was the most striking and was the largest one I've ever seen!

We wandered over to my start pen where Mike attached the wool to my little apron and I made myself known to the people from Guinness World Records. We had a group photo taken and then one on my own and I headed back to say goodbye to Mike.

There are details of all the runners attempting records here. I met Gill Begnor who was wearing a bottle costume and had to get under 5 hours for her record. I hope she did OK as I have no idea how she managed to run inside that costume! The group photo is here.

The weather forecast was for sun, sun, sun but it was very cloudy at first. Then it started to rain and so I bade farewell to Mike (with the usual teary moment) and he headed off to London whilst I went back to try and shelter from the rain. I managed to find a carrier bag in my kit bag so I ripped a hole in that and stuck it over my shoulders to help keep me a bit warmer then sneaked into one of the tents to shelter until the rain abated. I wished I'd taken one of the many space blankets I've accumulated from my many marathons as that would have kept me nice and warm.

At the start I saw the green caterpillar of 34 runners, complete with Princess Beatrice - they went past me during the marathon too and she smiled and said "wow, that's wonderful" when she saw my crochet - and I also met SarahL from Fetch sporting a gingerbread man costume. Sarah is a very speedy runner and she was still pretty darned quick despite the costume!

Then it was time to line up ready for the start. Several people came over to tell me that they enjoy reading my blog and several more runners passing me en-route said they often popped over to see what I'm up to which was nice. Thank you for stopping by!

I always knew that the crochet stunt would be harder than the knitting for several reasons - it's harder to get into a rhythm when you're using just one hand, sweaty hands mean the wool doesn't feed through easily and also means I can't use the nice comfy bamboo hook, the chain wouldn't be as weighty as a scarf and so would blow around if there was a breeze and last but not least is that it's harder to crochet without looking at what you are doing so I had to look down much more and take more care about where I put my feet! Having said all that I soon got into a rhythm of sorts and set my pace accordingly. I had to get round in under 6 hours for the world record and as the forecast was for sun later I didn't want to go fast anyway (quite apart from the fact that I'd already run a marathon the week before!).

The marathon was wonderful as always. The crowd was brilliant, calling out the names of the runners to speed them along, but what was extra special for me this year was the number of runners who went past and offered encouragement. Many of them said they'd read about my antics or seen me on GMTV or heard the radio interviews and 2 ladies running for the Alzheimer's Research Trust even said they'd been inspired to run the marathon having read mum's story. That made it all worthwhile for me as getting publicity for such a worthy cause is paramount in what I do.

I saw lots of RW forumites and Fetchies plus 2 ladies went past and said hi, adding that Mary Massage Lady (my favourite Sports Masseuse) had told them to look out for me! There were 2 Fetchpoints at 13 and 22 miles, the Runner's World Team at mile 17 around Mudchute and the Alzheimer's Research Trust team at mile 14 in Narrow Street. I usually like to stop and just say a quick hello but I was struggling a bit so just waved and smiled. I expect there will be some photos later as the ART cameras were flashing away and I saw RichK at Fetchpoint!

As the crochet chain grew I was wrapping it around my left arm and when I finished a ball I then tied some spare yarn around it and hung it from my belt, joined in a new ball and started again. When calculating how much yarn I'd need I used my scarves as a basis and added a bit more on. This proved to be wildly inaccurate as I only got through 4 balls of yarn and Gerard had kindly donated 10 balls so I hope he doesn't mind! I'll make good use of the excess yarn though by crocheting some blankets and selling them for the Alzheimer's Research Trust.

By mile 23 the wind was blowing my yarn around too much and I found I was slowing right down so I realised that if I didn't speed up then I wouldn't get round in under 6 hours. So I stashed my yarn and hook in my apron pouch, put my sunglasses on, stuck my head down and strode forth finishing in 5:43:22.

As I crossed the finish line I looked around for the adjudicators for Guinness and we then had to measure my chain. Now any knitters reading this will know just how easily a ball of yarn can get itself into a right old tangle. Well add 26.2 miles of being jiggled around to the equation and you'll have some idea of just how tangled my hanks of crocheted chain were. It took ages to disentagle them before they could be measured but we managed it eventually and I was shocked to find I'd managed 77.4 metres! I never thought it would anything like that length so was very pleased!

After a brief interview they presented me with a temporary certificate and I collected my goody bag and could finally go to meet Mike (who'd been waiting patiently for ages).

He seemed to have had a good day and had been shopping so we had loads of bags to carry.

I am always ravenous after a marathon and he hadn't disappointed me - I tucked into a scrummy cheese salad sandwich straight away before we headed off to get the train home and to put our feet up for the evening.

What a great day for my 19th marathon. Now what about next year........................................................


Sarah L said...

Well done! Fabulous run :-) And you beat me! By a few seconds - we must've almost crossed the line together!! Congrats on the world record, superb :-)

Carol said...

Congratulations!! Every year I think more seriously of running a marathon - not just for the achievement but to raise money for needed charities. You are inspiring!

Shan said...

You are just amazing.

Anonymous said...

Lets cross the bridge when we come to it......................................................

Nezumi said...

Congratulations on the World Record and for your great fund raising :)