I’m one of those people that plans an Instagram caption long before the photo arrives – and I have no shame in that. The same goes for these blog posts, I usually have a rough idea of I’m going to say before I start typing.
However, this time around I wanted to write about the London Marathon without planning in advance. I wanted the raw emotions to flow out as I press down on every key.
Naturally, and somewhat predictably, this is the one time i’m speechless. 26.2 miles. The frigging London Marathon. And the first mass event London Marathon in over 800 days for obvious reasons. Being honest it will take a very long time for the magnitude of it to sink it.
The time was now. Eleven months after Mind offered me a place on their team, 823 miles worth of training miles banked and about a million attempts at ironing the letters onto my running vest later. The 2021 London Marathon was here. All that was left was the small task of running 26.2 miles around the streets of London. Ah.
The pre event nerves were real. I’m never someone to get overly nervous about this kind of thing, but as anyone who has taken part in the London Marathon before will tell you – it really is in a league of its own. The week before consisted of a lot of sleepless nights spent wondering if I had done enough. Shovelling what felt like an endless amount of carbs into my mouth and avoiding any form of mass gathering. Being double jabbed was irrelevant to me – I was taking zero risks.
However, come Sunday morning things got better once I was out the flat and en route to London. I travelled up with four Mind runners and the train was filled with heaps of marathon participants. Once we arrived at Greenwich we met some other Mind runners and had group photos taken atop Greenwich Park before it was time to head to the start waves. Those nerves were creeping in again.
There were three different starting waves – red, blue and green. Out of the red zone I was in wave five which was perfect. If I had to wait around ages before getting going the nerves would have become horrendous – I didn’t want to be waiting ages to get started.
Once it was time to move from the starting pen to the start line I was feeling okay actually. All the nerves seemed to disappear and I was reminded that I’d done all the work. It was time for the lap of honour. I plugged my music in, the first song to appear on my ‘Now! That’s what I call the London Marathon’ playlist was Mariah Carey’s Fantasy. I loaded up my Garmin, pressed start and started running.
It took 4 hours, 19 minutes and 41 seconds for me to complete my first ever marathon. It still hasn’t quite sunk in that I’m a marathon runner.
I’m not going to go into masses of detail about the run itself. However, I can give you an overview of how it went. The first half went really well. My pacing was nice and consistent. Nutrition, energy drink and water were going down a treat and the sub four hours seemed achievable.
Shortly after the half-way point things began to change. My legs began to feel the pain so I immediately dismissed the sub-four hour dream. It wasn’t happening this time. Instead I took the pace off, focused more on my breathing and took the whole thing one mile at a time.
I wasn’t prepared for a lot of things on marathon day. Not because I hadn’t put the work in. Everything I could prepare for I had the best I could. It was the things I wasn’t in control of which surprised me. With the big one being the impact of the crowd. In particular my friends, family and the Mind charity cheer points.
I saw my mum on Tower Bridge (just shy of 13 miles) and again at mile 25, an old work friend I wasn’t expecting to see at mile 14, one group of friends at 18.5 miles by Canary Wharf tube station before hearing two friends whom I didn’t think were coming to watch scream my name at mile 22. With there being three Mind cheer points across the course and not to mention the communication with other Mind runners taking part. The difference they made was simply incredible. I certainly wouldn’t have run a 4:19:41 marathon without them.
The final mile is special. You can’t quite see Buckingham Palace yet but St James’ Park is on your right. The noise is something else. I had lined up Taylor Swift’s Shake it off (my mental health track) as the song I’d finish the marathon on but I couldn’t hear a thing – even with the volume turned right up.
I’ve walked along that part of London hundreds of times either for work or when I lived in the city and I’ve never felt like that. I found it very hard to keep my emotions in check. There’s something so special about it and I already know that moment is seared in my memory for the rest of my life.
Running for Mind
Those who know me personally will know I’ve tried to get into the London Marathon via the ballot for years. I think I have five or six rejection hoodies in my wardrobe.
This years event was the one time I applied through a charity and it just had to be Mind. It couldn’t be anyone else. They’re so representative of my entire ethos and everything this blog stands for.
I’m so glad I ran my first London Marathon raising money for them. Although it’s only been a few days since the event I already know I wouldn’t be as buzzing as I am if I had just turned up, run it by myself, picked up my medal and gone home.
I know a lot gets said about the fact I live alone, travel solo and whatever but the marathon is a prime example of how although you do the bulk of the work alone (training etc) you’re never really by yourself. Running the London Marathon for Mind really made it feel like you were part of something bigger than a 26.2 mile run around the city.
The Mind group have been there from the word go, which, during a pandemic year, isn’t easy. We’ve had a Facebook group full of useful messages and good vibes, Zoom sessions talking us through the pre race events and day itself which made the whole thing easier. Even now the event is behind us there’s WhatsApp groups that are still popping off. There’s even talk of a potential Karaoke night reunion in the works!!
I couldn’t hand pick a better group of people to share the marathon experience with. I really couldn’t. My only regret is that I didn’t meet more of them before the big day.
When it comes to the London Marathon everyone has a reason why they take part. All those years applying through the ballot it was very self-centred. Ie I want a marathon medal to add to my collection. That wasn’t the case as soon as Mind offered me a place on their team. The time and finishers medal is very much second fiddle to the bigger picture.
I ran that marathon for the one in four people with a mental health problem.
Although the marathon is now behind us and I’m currently sat here with a serious case of post event blues. The work doesn’t stop. The work never stops. Any fundraising event I do in the future will be in aid of Mind and I’m hoping this blog will go from strength to strength. The impact of the pandemic on the worlds mental health has made it clear that the work of charities such as Mind is needed now more than ever.
That is why my 2021 London Marathon experience was about so much more than the 26.2 miles.
2021 London Marathon
I RAN THE 2021 LONDON MARATHON FOR MIND!
You can still donate until November 8th 2021. If you wish to do so you can by clicking the links below.
Fundraising Page: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JordanCamp
My blog post about the event
Mind Website: https://www.mind.org.uk