It's been one week since the London marathon! Where does the time go?! We thought it was the perfect time to catch up with Annie, who ran the marathon last weekend and has an incredible story to share!
Want to know what it’s like being one of the top fundraisers for your charity? Balancing training with a very young child and a full time job? Read on…
How did you balance your training with other aspects of your life, like work and family?
It was haaaaaaard. I'm not even sure if you could call it balancing tbh! But I tried my best and I tried not to be too hard on myself. My little girl always took priority so it wasn't uncommon for me to miss a run or a gym class each week. However, I made a pact with my Husband that I would never miss a long run. And I didn't!
Sometimes those long runs started at 6am so I could get out before Violet was properly up and about, sometimes they started at 7pm once Violet was tucked in bed. Almost always, they were hard to start due to the tiredness of mum and work life but usually after about 5k I would find my rhythm. Plus it was lovely to have some 'me time' to get my mind back in the game.
Did you work with a coach or follow a specific training plan?
This training block I didn't work with a coach - mainly due to my schedule being so unpredictable so I didn't want the added pressure of letting someone down or always having to cancel or reschedule. I downloaded a plan off the internet and tweaked it as needed to suit my life each week. Flexibility was so key for me this time round!
What was the most challenging part of your training?
Finding the time and the energy to fit it all in. After a day of nursery trips, full time work, nursery pick ups, tea time, bath time, bed time and general house work there were times when i was like 'I literally cannot do this!' Not to forget the added stress of my Colitis flaring up as well as alllllll the nursery bugs Violet kindly brought home with her from nursery. There were a few times where I simply thought this was not going to be possible. But I had 3 key reasons to keep going:
- I was doing this for charity (Crohn's & Colitis UK) so I couldn't let them down
- I wanted to prove to myself and my daughter that you shouldn't let anything hold you back from achieving your goals
- I needed closure. I was due to run London in 2020 but due to Covid I deferred to 2023 and even though I had done the Virtual in 2020 I needed to do the real thing and officially tick it off my bucket list.
What was going through your mind when you crossed the starting line?
The start line was the most surreal experience ever. As I was one of Crohn's & Colitis UK's top fundraisers, I was given a VIP pass to the start line hospitality. Oh my goodness, it was insane! So much food! I'm talking salmon, croissants, cereal, fruit, meats, cheeses, tea, coffee - you name it they had it! It was also completely sheltered, with a bag drop and toilets with NO QUEUE! It also had a balcony right on the start line so you could watch the Elite athletes kick off the race. Oh and of course it was full of celebs - Mark Wright, Adele Roberts, Jake Quickenden, Louise Minchen, Marcus Mumford, Eastenders Stars, Bake Off stars, newsreaders - it was pretty overwhelming TBH. And then to top it all off Kipchoge himself walked into the room. I honestly didn't know what to do with myself.
As my official start line was in the Red Pen, it was a bit of a walk from the hospitality tent, so when myself and another top fundraiser (Em) were away to leave one of the organisers said 'Oh just come this way and we can just filter you onto the start line'.
So, an hour early than planned, Em and I crossed the start line, with no other runners and a crowd of cheering supporters - it was unreal! I cannot explain the sheer excitement pumping through my body during those first 2km until the next wave caught up with us. Something I will never forget.
How did you feel during the race? Were there any particular moments that stood out to you?
As I got carried away with the excitement of the start line, any race plan I may have had went out the window. I went out too fast, and I know I did. These things happen. So my strategy changed and my plan was to run to tower bridge and then do a walk/jog for the next half.
I felt incredible during the first half. So happy, so excited. But as my energy started to fade around 24km that soon turned into anxiety and panic. It's quite hard to calm yourself down with a crowd quite like the London one. Everyone wants you to do well and the noise is electric, but when you hit a wall, feel pretty nauseous and can feel your anxiety kicking in it can be extremely overwhelming. Luckily, I had experienced a similar feeling during one of my training races and worked out that listening to a podcast helped me calm down so for the next 5miles, I tried to zone out a little bit and focus on my breathing and refuelling. As well as that, a perfectly timed call from my Sister who lives in Seoul and a surprise hug from my best friend Hannah helped me get back on track.
The last 2 miles were all smiles especially when my daughter was there cheering on me at 800m to go. The emotions were all over the place and then to see 2 of my best friends (Lauren & Shiva) in the stalls at the finish line was just the cherry on top!
I went through every emotion possible that day. The marathon broke me and then rebuilt me so I came out stronger. I'm forever thankful that I got to experience it!
How did you feel when you crossed the finish line?
I couldn't believe it! I was in shock and then I cried and then I laughed. And then I desperately wanted to find my family and get my trainers off! Boy it's a long walk from the finish line to the meeting area! Also, a can of Coke has never tasted so good! I recommend packing one in your kit bag.
It definitely took me a little while to feel stable enough to get the tube back to the hotel. I was very lightheaded but i had just ran 26.2 miles so I guess that's to be expected!
What did you do to celebrate after the race?
My friends, family and I headed to a pub near my hotel for lots of food and a few drinks. It was the perfect end to a perfect day!
Would you run another marathon?
Hmmmm. I'm undecided. I think if I did, it would need to be when Violet was old enough to feed and entertain herself. and I don't mean during the actual event, I mean mainly to allow me to train to my fullest.
I think it's safe to say, I'm a long distance runner. I love a long run. Possibly because I'm a slower runner so i feel the pressure to do short distances fast where as I don't feel that pressure with longer distances like half's or marathons - most people are just impressed you ran that far! So saying that, yeah maybe I do have another marathon in me further down the line!
What advice would you give to someone who is considering running a marathon?
If you have the thought in your head...you're already committed. Once you even think it's a possibility that's a sign you're ready to take it on.
Training is the hardest part, so stick to it, trust your plan and on the day just go with the flow.
Thank you SO much Annie for sharing!
You can learn more about Annie on https://www.instagram.com/the_running_girls/