Phil Shanahan describes the incredible experience of the Virgin Money London Marathon
Running the Virgin London Marathon (VMLM) is not a chore, it’s not a contest and it’s not easy. It is literally walking in the footsteps of giants! For 40 years, men and women have done what you are going to do next October. Over 1 million people in total have completed the distance and have asked the same questions that you will ask yourself before the day. “Can I do it?” and “have I trained enough?” are among some of the questions that you will ask. The answer to the first is Yes!! The answer to the second is “Probably not!”.
Leading up to the big day, you will be very excited and will add “After the London Marathon, I will…” to every sentence. It becomes everything in your world for a few days. You will feel so special when you go to the Expo and get a VMLM running number and goody bag. You will meet the fantastic team from MS-UK there and feel part of the team.
The big day
On marathon day, you will arrive at the start – expect to feel nervous. It’s a mixture of excitement, fear, pride, adrenaline and a desire to get going. The sounds, the smells, the sights, the colour and the music will stay with you for life. You will meet with all the other MS-UK runners. The Anthem plays, the jets scream past and the tension rises. You will be focused, you will think of the hard training runs, the cold, the wet, and you will think about family and the reasons that have brought you to the start line of the greatest event in the world.
Once you start running, your body will take a little longer to adjust than usual but this is normal. Go with the pace of the people around you and enjoy the first six miles. At six miles you are passing the Cutty Sark. The crowds are massive and the TV cameras are panning out over your head. Smile and show your colours. Tower Bridge is next – it will never look better and it will never be a normal bridge again.
Canary Wharf is visible from a long way away but you are heading there. Again, the crowds are massive, the food smell is coming from every pub and restaurant and you are building in confidence. There is no stopping now. Twenty miles done, and it’s time to dig deep.
Heading back towards Tower Bridge again and you will see the people across the road still heading out east. Life is good and you are singing along with the numerous bands that play along the route. You pass underneath Waterloo Bridge and the road opens up. You have space for the first time so enjoy it and lift the crowd, it’s a long day waiting to see a hero, so make it worth their while.
The last mile. This is what it’s all about. You are going to make it. All doubts are gone, you will finish. Stay compact, run strong and keep smiling. Think of your fellow runners, help them with little words of encouragement. Just a simple “you’ve got this” can do so much for a struggling comrade.
Cross the finish line proud, get your medal and be ready to never be ordinary again. You are now a marathon runner and you will feel different, feel stronger, privileged and feel extremely proud.
“Pain is food” is my motto. You will not remember the pain a week later but the fantastic memories will live forever. Have fun, stay safe and listen to your body. You are running for yourself, for your family, for all those less fortunate and for MS-UK. You have come so far. You have created a moment in time that will outlive you. Life is short, smile and enjoy every minute of your marathon.
You’ve got this!!!
If you want to experience the Virgin Money London Marathon then apply to run for MS-UK here.