London Marathon 2023

London Marathon, #2,  100th Marathon!

The best way to describe the London Marathon is it is a forgiving course with rolling hills.  It is a lot like the New York City marathon.  The crowd support is similar, but London doesn’t have the multiple bridges and the horrible final uphill to Central Park.

We had a very pleasant flight.  I had secretly upgraded to Delta One, so I had been looking forward to being able to lay down and sleep on the flight.  After we landed, we took the train to Paddington station to get the tube to the house I found on VRBO.  The subways stairs made it challenging to navigate 2 large suitcases and one carry-on bag.   By the time we arrived at Earls Court station we were tired and sweating from our “luggage” workout.  We dragged our suitcases down a couple blocks to the VRBO.

We were greeted quite briefly by Alex.  He led us downstairs to the apartment. As soon as I walked in, I could smell mold.  I immediately opened the door to let some fresh air in, hoping this would help. After unpacking we both fell asleep on the couch watching TV.  I kept waking up to a noise and the apartment seemed to be shaking.  Later we realized that the noise was from the tube that was located in the back of the building.  I read reviews for this property and the only mention of the tube was it was conveniently located. I didn’t expect it to be in the back yard.  There was also a couple inch drop off into the bathroom and kitchen that I slowly got used to.  On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best, I give this location a 2+.  The plus was for the owner letting us check out an hour later.

The Expo:  We made sure to go to the expo the same day we arrived to avoid long lines.  I was pleased with this expo.  We went to the Hyperice booth and sampled quite a few products.  It was wonderful to lay back and get my legs compressed after the flight.  My quads were still a bit sore from the Boston hills.

Fun things to do in London: 

  • The London Eye has the most spectacular views. You need to book in advance though.  Colleen had booked a private car for all of CT runners.  We boarded together by basically jumping on the slightly moving car. 
  • Peloton Studio: This was such an amazing experience.  If you do want to get into the studio, you’ll need to book in advance.  Their website was a little like signing up for the NYC marathon as you sit in queue waiting to see if you’ll get in.  If Colleen and Richard hadn’t signed us up, we would never have gotten our spot as they fill up.  Richard had gotten in the queue earlier and was able to add us.  
  • Tina Turner Broadway show: The theater we went to was small. I don’t think there was a bad seat.  I highly recommend the show if you ever get an opportunity.   
  • Best Restaurants: Sicily – delicious Italian food, Green King Pug – best post marathon comfort food. 
  • Where to stay: Near Sloan Square tube or Victoria. Earls Court location and anywhere west are too far out of the way. 
  • Favorite places to sightsee: Borough Market, Covent Gardens, Buckingham Palace

The Marathon:

Morning: Getting to the start was stressful. Kim and I had 2 different stations we had to get to. We tried to change our corrals, but they wouldn’t allow it.  We arrived at the tube, and I overheard some runners mapping out their trip to the start.  There was a guy that said he was supposed to go to Greenwich but was going to travel to the Blackheath station with his friends and then walking to the red corral.  I looked at him and said, “I would like to follow you”, this way I would not have to get off the tube and figure out the rails without Kim.  I stuck by Guadalupe like glue. After we arrived, I left Kim at the blue corral and Guadalupe, and I headed to Red.  I told him it was my 100th marathon and his eyes lit up. He asked me a bunch of questions and then asked if I was spiritual.  I said “yes” so he stopped and opened his phone to read me the most beautiful scriptures.  It was inspiration and gave me goosebumps.  We walked to the port-o-lets and since he was doing the pee-pee dance, I let him go first.  That was the last time I saw Guadalupe. I waited for him to come out, but he seemed to have disappeared.   I think he may have been an angel keeping me safe and giving me such a power pre-race message. 

The weather reports had been changing but we were expecting rain.  Unlike Boston, I wore a hat and a rain poncho.  I also purchased plastic foot covers to keep my feet dry.  It had started lightly raining as soon as our corral opened.

I met up with Margo who was also in my corral.  We had a plan to run an 8:45 pace until mile 4 and then meet up with Kim and Jonathan so we could all run together.  We got to mile 4 and they weren’t there.  Margo’s friends were there and said, “they are 5 minutes behind you”.  Margo messaged Jonathan to let him know that we’d slow down to a 9-minute pace and try to meet around the 10K mark.  When we arrived, they were still behind us.  We messaged them and told them we’d still back down to a slower pace.  Finally, at Tower Bridge they found us.  Kim was in “full speed ahead” mode and blew right by us.  I had settled into a comfortable pace and knew that I had to get my legs moving to keep up with Kim.  Finally, we both settled into a nice pace.  I felt fantastic. There is something to be said about not starting out too fast. 

The crowd support was incredible.  There were a lot of distractions that included marching bands, choirs, bands, and one section that had drumming so loud that it felt like it was my body was vibrating with each beat.  Instead of the traditional paper cups, they have small water bottles.  This made for a dangerous situation if you accidentally stepped on one.  Also, some of the runners would just stop and walk and I had to maneuver around them.  It was tough with tired legs.

We finally got to the final stretch of the marathon.  The crowds were going crazy screaming.  I saw the 800 meters to go, then 400 meters to go and finally I turned the corner, and I could see the finish!  As soon as we turned it started to pour!  I started running faster and Kim grabbed my hand as we crossed the finish line together.

It was a great experience.  Kim’s time was 3:49 (BQ) and I had 3:55 (BQ).  Marathon #100 done!  It was an epic race to get my 100th completed.  I was able to get my medal engraved with my name, time and 100th written on it.  Now, onto the next 100…..