Lessons Learned – Marathon Journey

Chapter 2

Definite need to add Chapter 2 to my Marathon Journey. After the great success of my last blog – culminating in somewhere in the region of 1 comment (thanks Laura T !) I feel it is only fair to update you all . So as ever the whole reason for running the London Marathon is in memory of the amazing person that was Laura Stephenson. No amount of running could ever equal the strength and courage she showed throughout her illness. So every step of the way in races and the solitary running along the country lanes, avoiding dogs that snap at your heels, moving from one side of the lane when blind bends are encountered and waving politely at cars that zoom past within a few inches of me as I dive into the hedge, I know she is there saying – “Go on Dad, you can do this !” And for some reason every time I write that I have difficulty seeing – no idea why !!!

So running along the lanes listening to Frank Turner tunes, (that was the last gig we went to together), I decided really I should get another half marathon (for previous Half Marathon see Chapter 1) run to experience running with others as oppose to crawling along on my own etc. Enter The Big Half Marathon in London!

After carefully checking the temperature isn’t going to exceed 40 degrees and the percentages are there will be more of a certain age category running I decide to enter. Begin to slightly worry when I get an email from ‘The Big Half’ saying – “Great News; Mo Farah and Eilish McColgan are running with you in The Big Half ! Mmmmmmm don’t think they will be running “with” me but I get the gist !!

After my experience in the Richmond Park Half Marathon, I begin to think maybe I should change my diet of a coffee for breakfast and sometimes an evening meal when I feel hungry ! So a big change in diet with ‘Power Muesli’ for breakfast, ‘Can’t Beet Me Smoothie’, Warrior Drink and ‘Pesto Pasta with Sardines” I’m ready for the challenge.

Staying overnight in Stevenage, with Emily and Ben it’s an easy journey into London and Tower Bridge. Give myself plenty of time as occasionally, only very occasionally I’m a bit rushed – Not this time !!! A lift to the Station and I’m there standing on the platform at 7:50 waiting for the 08:05 direct train into London. Takes 20 minutes into London so plenty of time to hand my bag in and be at the there for a 10:10 start from just past Tower Bridge. At 08:05 an announcement over the tannoy, “The 08:05 train has been cancelled and due to delayed works on the line there will be no trains running until at least 09:00.

In the meantime, my family who are coming to support me and watch the event have travelled much later, gone a different route and at 09:20 are standing by Tower Bridge waiting to see me. At 09:25 Im still stood at Stevenage on Platform 3, dressed in my running kit, number on my vest, discussing the merits of British Rail with anyone who cares to listen ! Some 25 mins later, at 9:50 a train decides to pick up the prospective passengers off Platform 3. At Kings Cross I hop on the tube, totally relaxed ! I remove my tracksuit bottoms whilst travelling on the tube to Tower Bridge, totally oblivious to the looks I was getting from fellow passengers. Well to be honest not totally oblivious but by this time, I just didnt care ! Thankfully my ‘entourage’ met me at the exit of the tube station. Some 25 minutes after ‘all’, and I mean ‘ALL’ of the runners had started I discuss with the guy collecting the bags of the runners which way to go to the start. “Just go up round that bend, straight over Tower Bridge and the start is just down there !”

As I jog relatively quickly round the bend, I realise that his “just” and my “just” may not quite have the same meaning. I weave in and out of the crowds on Tower Bridge as they watch the whole posse of runners running across the Bridge. When I say the whole posse what I really mean is all but one ! I’m busy running in the opposite direction to try to find the start. The runners that I am now running past waving really politely at me as if to say – “Errrrr you’re running in the wrong direction !”

The runners after 6 miles ( I thought they’d just started !

This is what Tower Bridge looked like to me as I ran in the opposite direction ! I’m somewhere near the 3rd lampost on the left !!

A new definition of “just round the bend” is clearly now about a “mile down the road” ! So by the time I reach the Start arch, there are no competitors in sight just some pretty bored marshalls. At this point I just presumed i should keep running under the Start Arch and just keep running. I passed a marshall who was clearly important as he held a walkie talkie in his hand, I heard him say ” The last runner is just coming through, Number 10885 ! For some very strange reason I looked down at my chest and realised that the number was in fact mine !

I now know what Forrest Gump felt like. I just ran. No other runners in sight, just marshalls looking slightly bemused and smiling. Running along what is normally a very busy road in London totally on your own is quite an unnerving experience. I kept looking over my shoulder to see if they had opened the road! The slogan for the London Marathons, both the Big Half and The Full London Marathon is “We run as One” How did they know that I was !!! Just one runner !

A very busy underpass

Running along a road on your own is strange – running through a long underpass is just weird!!! I did resist the temptation to just shout “ECHO” at the top of my voice. Eventually I did actually catch up 2 other runners after about 2 or 3 miles. They too had been held up and together we ran the whole Half Marathon

For those teachers amongst you the two photo photos are great examples of compare and contrast experiences – On the left is mine and on the right is 14,000 other runners !

Eventually I managed to catch up on a few other runners and actually enjoyed the company of my two fellow runners.

After a somewhat strange start, the end was brilliant and overall it was a great experience. The encouragement from those who stayed was great. It did seem a long way and I did think to myself – “Can I really now run it all again – ie A Big Half x 2 !!!!! Scary – Time will tell very shortly !

Thank you of course to all of you who have donated to such an amazing charity Your generosity is absolutely brilliant – Thank you so much

BowelcancerUk are the UK’s leading bowel cancer charity. They fund targeted research, provide expert information and support to patients and their families, educate the public and professionals about the disease and campaign for early diagnosis and access to best treatment and care.   Above all they are here to stop people dying of bowel cancer.

17 thoughts on “Lessons Learned – Marathon Journey

  1. Brilliant Mike! Many runners say they’re carried a long way by the camaraderie that comes with running in a large group … and yet, there you were – SMASHING IT purely as a result of your own determination, grit and motivation.
    Bloody brilliant!
    Roll on Sunday! However the day unfolds, we are so SO proud of you (and totally in awe).

  2. Oh my goodness Mike! I know that you had arrived late because of problems with the train, but hadn’t realized that you ended up as the lone-distance runner! It’s very funny to read, but imagine you didn’t see the funny side at the time:-)
    Good luck on Sunday. We’ll be rooting for you!

  3. Beautiful photo of you and Laura. Good luck for Sunday, I’ll be running all the way with you (well maybe only in my head!) x

  4. Haha love this story!! What a shame the trains let you down, but your attitude to carry on and get it done regardless is blinking inspiring! Love reading about your journey, you’re doing incredibly! Keep running Mr B! Xx

  5. Well done once again young man!
    Never been one for running myself, never will be.
    I admire your attitude and wish you good luck for all travel arrangements to the race and endurance for the big full one this coming Sunday!
    Laura will cheer you on and give you strength!

  6. Oh my, but this made me smile so much – not so much at your train misfortune 😬, but at your inspiring will to complete the challenge and do so much good for others. You will be amazing on Sunday and I hope you’re able to enjoy it as much as you deserve. 💪

  7. I knew you could do it! So proud of you Mike and know that Laura and the rest of your family will be too! I love reading your blog. You have such a humorous way of writing! Xxx

  8. So proud of you!! Just wow 😳🙌🏼 No doubt in my mind or Lols I’m sure, that you’ll smash this weekend!! However hard and tough it will be 💪🏼❤️ Great writings above, I especially liked the echo bit 😆🤣 love H xxxxx

  9. Mike, I can’t believe this happened to you after such a big effort to get there in plenty of time (do I remember you and Julia missing not one but two flights when you were going on holiday once?!?) but nothing was going to stop you running that half marathon. I’d love to have seen the looks on the faces of the people on the train. A huge well done to you my friend on running it under such difficult circumstances. You’ll smash it on Sunday – I know you will. I’ll be thinking of you and Laura ❤️

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