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Virgin Money London Marathon 2018

When I started running, it was an idle hobby. I had been working from home as an independent contractor and wanted a way to get outside in the middle of the work day to get a break from spending all my time in the same four walls. It was at a fateful brunch where my friends challenged each other to run a 5k at the Bronx Zoo, and little did I know where it would lead.

I went from starting Couch to 5k in February of 2010 to running my first half marathon at Walt Disney World in January of 2011. The longer I ran, the more the miles escalated and the more I wanted a greater challenge. I planned to run my first marathon at Disney the following January, until I received a fateful call from my friend Carolann informing me that American Cancer Society’s Team Determination had extra bibs for the New York City Marathon that November, and would I be interested in running with them. I ramped up my training and toured the 5 boroughs in a 26.2 mile foot tour of NYC, and starting my road down the marathon majors.

As a runner, I toured around the world. New York, Chicago, Berlin, Tokyo, and Boston (in addition to a couple Disney World trips) to run the World Marathon Majors, the largest and most prestigious marathons in the world. That left only one to complete – London – but there were complications.

It was during my training for London that it felt like I pulled a muscle in my back 5-6 weeks before the race and decided it was in my best interest to see a doctor to make sure I was ok before heading to Europe, since it was painful to do simple things like stand up. After MRIs and cat scans, my doctor thought I had a compression stress fracture on my T6 vertebrae, so instead of training, I was taking it easy and going through a myriad of doctors and tests. It wasn’t until I was sent to a specialist, who I saw jut as I needed to make my final decision about running, confirmed that yes, I had fractured the vertebrae, but it hadn’t been recent and was fully healed. And with that, I was cleared to run.

I headed out with Andrea for our two week adventure in Europe to land in the middle of the biggest heatwave London had seen in decades. As a city not prepared for that kind of heat, it was uncomfortable at the least as we were traveling around as tourists, but would be much worse when it was time to run.

On the morning of April 22, 2018, we lined up 40,255 strong at the start line in anticipation of the roads ahead. Queen Elizabeth started us off with the press of a button and our journeys began. For the first three miles we headed east and toured Greenwich before turning back west and running alongside the River Thames. The next six miles was a bit of a curve but otherwise fairly straight run where the Thames appeared and disappeared to our right. It was as we started to curve around mile 9 where I started to feel the heat and knew it was going to affect my run.

I started at a decent pace, but as it started to heat up, I ran more and more conservatively, but I couldn’t anticipate how hot it was going to be and my pace slipped little by little. Over the course the race, the heat rose to a record breaking 24.1°C (or 75.4°F). While some people may look at those temperatures and think it’s not as hot as other places (like the 80°F race I ran in Walt Disney World), the geography and architecture amplify the heat, only making it worse as one runs.

I knew that no matter what, I was going to finish this race and I pushed on. We curved around the bank of the Thames until we got to an amazing sight – Tower Bridge. Decked out to look like something out of a fairy tale, the bridge was a sight to behold and a mental reprieve from the 26.2 mile trek.

After that, it was a couple miles back east to follow the Thames onto Canary Wharf, leading us along the water until we had a curvy route back north through the Isle of Dogs. We turned onto the A13 and it was a 10k run straight back through London proper  Passing through Covenant Gardens, towards Big Ben, which was unfortunately under construction and could not be easily seen beneath all of the scaffolding. From there it was a right turn and a curve around St. James Park in the shadow of Buckingham Palace to complete the Marathon Major.

I was able to finish it in 5:54:18, a time I’m not especially proud of, considering it is almost an hour beyond my previous worst marathon time, but I was able to finish the Virgin Money London Marathon and complete all six of the Abbott Marathon Majors. An accomplishment that only a few thousand people have completed.

And with the Marathon Majors completed, I am ready to wind down my marathon running. I plan to run one last one on my home turf and complete it where it started at the NYC Marathon in November and end it triumphantly with 12 marathons under my belt.

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