Reflections on the evolution in rants...

It's been two days since I finished the marathon.

Two whole days since I suffered the unimaginable pain and emotional torment of the 26.2 mile run across London.

It seems a good time to update you a bit on the day itself, now that I'm remembering it not through the pain, but from the experience.

And what an experience.

First off, and I mean this with all due respect to them, but it's not Flora's Marathon.

It's not the charities' and it's not even the runners.

It's London's.

I'm sure everyone who's hear of the London Marathon knows the cliche about the crowd getting you round.

As the cynic I am, I put this down to not wanting to embarass yourself in front of so many people. Yes, this was a factor, but I was constantly amazed by the genuine encouragement of the thousands of people who lined the streets in rain and hail to cheer and enthuse the thousands of runners.

It wasn't like they came out for a bit then pop off again. They'd be out there for hours, cheering strangers running along the streets that for the other 364 days of the year are like the ones outside your house.

There were three different phases of spectators.

First off were those south of the river. Blackheath, Charlton, Woolwich, Deptford, Greenwich, Rotherhithe, Bermondsey (and apologies to any I've missed). None of them are places I'd been, or associated with the kind of enthusiasm and warmth I felt running through the streets.

Bands, church choirs, PA systems set up outside people's houses, kids lining the street with their hands out wanting the runners to give them 5 as they ran past.

I never realised, watching previous ones on TV, that when people had made an effort, the runners applauded them. But it felt like the least I could do for these people who had given up their time to help see us off.

It hadn't quite hit home that I was actually doing it until about mile three, but when it did, I looked around at the beaming faces and realised it was ok. My pace was good (despite the loo stop!) and I felt fresh and ready for anything.

Repeated "oggy oggy oggying" kept the mood up, and I was genuinely enjoying it.

When the red starters (the masses I was in) joined with the blue starters (elite men and more masses) there was some good banter and well meaning booing of the other starters, which was another surprise that put a smile on my face.

By the time I got to Tower Bridge (about 12.5 miles) and the first sighting of my family, I was still feeling good, despite the first heavy shower.

At this point I should make a special mention of "Yasmine" who was running for Children with Leukaemia (a brillaint charity). She was one of a handful who thought they were the only people on the road. Cutting across people, barging through people who were waiting for a gap themselves, causing people behind to trip and fall. I dont' know what happend to you, but I hope you were in a lot of pain you selfish cow.


Crossing the bridge was strange as the road narrows and the crowds are thicker, but coming out onto the north of the river saw a change to the second phase.

Now, I will be honest and admit that I did not like the Canary Wharf/Isle of Dogs section. It was too windy and impossible to work out where you were and how far you had to go.

But here, when people were starting to feel how tough it was the crowds were out armed with oranges, jelly babies, drinks, bananas, anything they could do to help the strugglers.

I had my own stash of jelly babies, but needn't have bothered.

I was doing fine up until mile 17. Two loo stops had affected my pace but I was still hoping for some negative splits to reel it back in as the runners were thinning out and you could start to move up.

The drummers (you probably saw them on TV) were amazing - you came round a corner and there was a wall of sound and tempo that pushed you on.

When my knees went, I could quite easily have given up. The pain was phenomenal. My right knee had been sore for a couple of weeks and was strapped up, and I think I was over compensating onto the left and my calf tightened. I pulled over to a railing and started trying to stretch it out like I'd done on training runs, and it seemed to loosen so I set off again.

The pains that shot from both my knees was unlike anything I'd ever felt. I managed about four steps and nearly collapsed. I took a few breaths and gingerly started walking until it eased a bit, but I knew this wasn't something I could run off. Not 10 yards down the road a bloke in his 20's at the side watching just said - "come on Phil," (I had my name on my vest - he wasn't psychic or anything.) "you've come this far" and I just gritted my teeth and jog-hobbled on.

A short while later, and with many more "come on Phil"'s and "you're doing great"'s the second major shower hit.

Christ it was cold.

I flimsy lime green vest is not the best protection against heavy rain with some hail thrown in. Believe me.

I even screamed "for f**ks sake, give me a break!".

I slowed right down again with pain and then felt a friendly tap on my shoulder and saw another lime green vest with "kevin" written on it, and a friendly face telling me "keep going, you'll get there".

I wanted to scream at him how much I was hurting, but he set off again almost straight away. I calmed down and got going again so when he glanced back he could see I was still moving. I felt like I didn't want to let him down.

Ridiculous I know. I'd never seen him before, and will probably never see him again, but the fact someone just gave me the right encouragement at the right time made me want to keep going.

By the time I'd left this phase, my times had plummeted to about 13/14 minute miles - ie marginally faster than walking. But I didn't care then, I just wanted it all to be over.

I'd arranged to see the family again around mile 22 but they weren't where I expected them, but I saw a former workmate who gave my some jelly beans which were greatly apprecaited. I also made a rude gesture to another friend who wanted a picture.

Now I hate pics at the best of times, but when I was in a world of pain and torment, I felt justified in my actions. I love her to pieces, but don't point a camera at me when I want to die!

A bit further up I saw the family and could have cried. I told Laura how horrible it was, but I'm not sure she understood. Probably becase I was a gibbering wreck. It gave me a great feelingto see them though and i set off again, almost running.

That didn't last long.

I had to stop to stretch again a bit firther on, and the same happened as before. Now I don't know much about these things, but I'm damned sure your knees aint meant to do that!

By now I was cursing everything - myself for doing this, my right trainer for the sole going, my vest for making me so conspicuous and the crowds for their "you're nearly there"ing.

When you hit the last phase along Embankment, the crowds are different again. They're not locals. They're tourists and visitors. Families and friends. They're people who have made the effort to travel in to watch you run the last leg.

Another thing about this phase is the fact it was the only bit I know. This meant I knew exactly how far it was to the end and It wasn't a happy thought.

I was wet, cold, in pain, looking like a knob. I was not in a happy place. I'd been relying mainly on self hatred ("it's your own stupid fault you tit") and determination ("tha's from Yorkshire, lad").

Eventually it dawned on me though. I was nearly there. And I was from Yorkshire. Had i been lancastrian, I'd have been crying at the side of the road in the foetal position miles ago.

In my head I was working out the distance to the end as the short runs from training. The little one's that I eventually managed to see as nice and easy.

From then on I jog-hobbled along, trying to get some kind of speed going. Along Embankment was mad with cheering. Parliament square was rammed too. Heading along Bridcage Walk there's a hoarding with "800 metres to go" on it, and I've never been so happy to see a sign
in metric.

Then it's an age until you see the next one and you think "how the hell was that only a few hundren metres!?"

The big one is the 385 to go. You've done 26 miles and it's literally the last stretch, with crowds cheering and tannoys blaring. Crossing the line was both a blesed relief and pretty underwhelming.

You know it's over and you've done it, but then you have to queue tog et your chip taken off, get your medal and get a bag with snacks and space blanket (which took two squaddies way too long to find for me - though they were much quicker than I'd have been!) before trekking up The Mall to find the truck with you clothes etc in you dumped at the start. Mine was miles down and I thought I wasn't gonna make it.

I couldn't be bothered to keep going down to the changing area so slipped between two trucks and got changed there. There was a nice gentleman who was chuffed he'd made it, and a woman in her 40's who confessed to having only run up to 12 miles in her training.

I could have lamped her.

The rest is a bit of a blur as I found family and made my way home. I was aching, and miffed i'd taken about 5 hours.

That was my mood for a while until I started to think about it more rationally:
  • I'd run a marathon despite only a few months before having done no running since school;
  • I got round on a knee that the week before had given up after a mile and a half;
  • I'd raised more than £1,500 for Asthma UK (and still rising);
  • I'd proved to myself that if I put my mind to it, I can do much more than I realise.
That might sound a bit limp wristed, but that's where my head is at the moment.

Despite the pain, the mentally draining process of running, the doubt, the self-loathing and the thoughts of giving it all up, I'm glad I've done it.

People have said they're so proud of me, but immediately afterwards I couldn't see how. Now I think I can. Sort of.

Laura's already entered the ballot for next year, and I've said I'll help her train.

Will I do it again? Two days ago, I would have laughed in your face and said no chance.


Well, I've entered the ballot, but, it's not likely I'll get a place is it...?

I'm not dead...

...just resting!

I made it! I'm alive (sort of!)

I wasn't beaten by a rhino!

Was probably the most stupid thing I've ever done in my life.

The first 16/17 miles or so were fine, then I felt my knees going a bit wonky so tried to stretch out my calves so there was less tension and then could hardly walk on them. It was like the joint was made of broken glass.

Unsurprisingly, my pace fell off a bit after that!

I started off at a very comfortable 9.45 minute miles at the start, which was when I was stuck in crowds conserving my energy, then a toilet stop slowed me right down (as did another around 10 miles), but by the end I was averageing just under 15 minute miles, which is abysmal!

So finished in just over 5 hours. Someone said I was actually under 5, which I was chuffed to bits with bearing in mind my knee hadn't let me run more than a mile and a hlaf in last couple of weeks. Then got it confirmed at over 5 and I've got a bit down.

No idea why, I made it round, whcich was all I ever wanted to do!

And given how cold and wet it was, and painful in the hail, I guess I should be feeling proud. Just odn't think I'm genetically programmed for that!

On the plus side, there's been a good flurry of sponsors over the last few days so I've easily hit the target of £1,500 Asthma UK wanted. I was just hoping for nearer £2,000 which could still be doable once I've got all the different forms from all over the country in.

Need to go sit down somewhere comfortable for a bit now, but will update more later.

Oh bugger

So, we're about to enter the start zone. Here's ben and i before getting into position


Now dumped all my gear on the truck. Won't see it til the start


So found the urinals and had the interesting experience of weeing outside with m people playing over the tannoy. 3 guesses which song

Greenwich park

Wonder if this is the right way

So this is greenwich

Got off train earlier than i expected. Loads of people already

On train

So we made the 6.46 to waterloo, which given thursdays effort, is pretty surprising! There are a suspicious number of people wearing running clothes. Almost as if there's some kind of long distance run going on...


So, i guess you're all wondering what an elite athlete eats on the morning of the big race. The honest answer is i don't know, but i've had porridge and sports drink. Got loads of jelly babies and 3 mars bars in case i get peckish. Just like the pros...

Only, 24 hours from suffering

In less than 24 hours I'll be running the Flora London Marathon.

Kick off is 9:45, so it'll be somewhere around 10:00 by the time i cross the line, and probably another half an hour or so 'til I actually get running.

I'm on the red start (ie the massed runners) and won't join up with the other two starts until about mile 3. Since the other 2 starts are the elites, I don't imagine I'll be seeing much of them until I've crossed Tower Bridge around mile 13, and they're heading back from Canary Wharf on the other side of the road at mile 22.

That won't be depressing at all!

So It's around about half one at the mo. Theoretically I'll be somewhere around Docklands in 24 hours (if it were a straight run with no crowds from 9.45 and no dodgy knee, I'd hope to be well ahead of that!). That's the quiet bit they don't show much of on the telly as there's nothing there.
That's probably where I'll try to eat/drink as I'm still not able to do that whilst running and don't want to be seen choking to death on jelly babies by too large a crowd!

The fam are down and shall be along the route at some point, as will friends from work, and elsewhere. I wish they weren't as I have a strong feeling that I look ridiculous whilst running (it's no accident that there are no pics of me running on this blog!)

If you do see me at some point, be nice. I won't be enjoying myself.

In fact, pretend you don't know me! That'll be best for everyone involved I think.

right, got my playlist to sort out now. I'm tihnking Queen, Muse, Jimmy eat World and some early Rage Against the Machine to keep things moving along...

Essex blonde shouts out my name

Apparently I've just been "shouted out" to on the Capital Breakfast Show by the ever-Essex Denise van Outen.

Now, I'm normally at work from about 7.30 am and can't get the radio to work on this computer, and I'm also quite English, so I didn't really know what that meant when I was told.

Apparently, Essex's finest regularly "shouts out" (definition: greeting or acknowledgment of a person, group, or organisation of significance. It is often done as a sign of respect, synonymous with "giving props.") to people on the her show, and this morning wanted some marathoneers to "shout out" to.

My lovely other half took it upon herself to text in and I have subsequently been "shouted out" to/about/for (I have no idea how that works gramatically).

I'm strongly trying to resist the urge to make any jokes about the last time an Essex blonde shouted out my name.

As you can probably appreciate, that's quite difficult.

1000's of people + London transport = absolutely nothing to worry about...

I'm back from my trip to the Excel Centre to register and get my running chip thingy. Sadly, not of the potato variety - though I was hankering for some chips and mayo when I was there (very continental of me!).

We had to take a mainline train that was thankfully delayed so we got an earlier one at off peak prices (God bless South West Trains) . This was followed by another lovely experience on the tube, followed by two DLR trains.

Obviously, as this is London, there were delays. We got registered pretty quick, had a mooch around the exhibitors (nothing thrilling there), picked up a free goody bag (more later) and set off back.

The first DLR went the wrong way for one stop befiore returning to where we got on, before continuting the right way. Then changed for another, which was possibly the most wobbly journey of my life.

Then tube to Waterloo (where I realised I'd lost £15!!) and a half hour wait for a train at which point I temporarily mislaid Ben in M&S, as the after queuing to pay for ages I realised my salad had sweetcorn in it and had to start again. When will people realise sweetcorn has no place in a salad?!


The train to Chertsey takes a billion years so we thought we'd be clever and get a fast one to Virginia Water to overtake the one we'd missed.

Unsurprisingly, this didn't work, so and we had a half hour wait for the Chertsey one, so we went for a brew.

Again, unsurprisingly, we messed this up and missed the next train so opted for a taxi.

Now, as you're not my travel agent, you're probably not hugely interested in this, but there are two important lessons here:
  1. The journey on Sunday morning to the start (using public transport) will be hellish. There's no way trains won't break down. Not a chance in hell. Also, with only small crowds going to Excel today, the stations were pretty rammed. Knowing my luck, I'll break my leg as I'm leaving the station to get to the start when someone falls down some stairs onto me.
  2. If it weren't for the blue line painted on the road to mark the route, it's highly likely that two well-educated (I've got a 1st for god's sake) 20-somethings would still be trying to find the finish line in August, having run thousands of miles and being particularly British and refusing to ask for directions or give up.
Both important lessons, I'm sure you'll agree.

The upshot to all this is I'm not actually thinking about the actual run much at the moment, more about getting to the start line on time and in one piece.

I suspect it's my subconsciousness' way of protecting me from actually realisin that I've got to run 26.2 miles in a couple of days.

How very kind of it!


Ok, so we eventually got here. Got registered, got my chip thing.
Here's Ben looking camp!


A friend kindly sent me this article from The Guardian. I don't know the writer, but I feel a deep sense of connection with his outlook.

His motivational technique for example:
surrounded by very short young women, whose legs must have been half the length of mine, I told myself I was pathetic if I couldn't keep up with them
sounds very much my kind of thing.

He's also touched on something thats been niggling me for a while too - what next?

He had a curry and went on holiday. I will just stop running. I can't imagine wanting to do it again, unless I have some kind of mystical epiphany on the way round and God/Allah/Vishnu/the Flying Spaghetti Monster tells me the purpose of my life is to carry on and bring us Olympic glory in long distance running.

Not likely, me thinks.

So, I'll probably be left with a sense of unease and disappointment - an effect I normally work my ass off to achieve on others.

Something to look forward to I guess!

Anyway, off to register and collect my number now. I'll keep my eyes open for a sense of purpose while I'm out

Squeaky bum time

Getting down to it now.

Only four days to go until my public humiliation and suffering.

On the plus side, it'll all soon be over.
  • no more aching;
  • no more having to get motivated to go for a run after a crappy day at work; and
  • no more wearing shorts in public.
On the down side
  • my knee is still being weird so there's the very real risk of doing myself some lasting damage;
  • there is the possibility I may be seen in shorts by millions of people watching television; and
  • potentially dying.
So swings and roundabouts really.

I'm not nervous yet. I expected to be, but it just isn't happening. The fact is, I've known I'll be doing this for a few months.

I've done the time on the road. After my long runs, I'm pretty sure I can make it around one way or another. I've also eaten more pasta in the last week than Pavarotti could do in a year.

I'm sure I should be freaking out more, but I'm not. And even that isn't freaking me out.

The best way I can describe it is like the condemned man, heading to the firing squad.

I've accepted my fate since the judgement was passed all those months ago, now I'm just waiting for the blindfold and the bang.

Just wish my last meal wasn't sodding pasta...

Phil goes mobile...

Alright, i think i've got this blog thing synched to my phone. The thinking is i should be able to send entries on the big day for those whe aren't coming to watch my public humiliation. Will see how it goes!

Like cake?

So I had a cake sale here at work t'other day, safe in the knowledge that colleagues love nothing more than a good muffin.

After a night spent furiously baking (that's frantically, not in an angry manner) I was incredibly chuffed with my wares. Also the generosity of friends and strangers alike in the building was pretty awesome, with many people donating their own creations for me to sell.

I'd teamed up with Debbie B who is running the marathon for Diabetes UK, though technically she's cheating as she's run 12 marathons before, as well as two as part of triathlons (nutter!).

The plan was to sell in my running kit to get a bit more mockery and sympathy to get donations.Sadly, late arriving tables, and a gannet-like rush at the start meant that didn't happen.

I did do about £150 in sales, and another £50 ish in sponsors though, so was well worth it.

Also, people in my team appreciated the few bits left over, though by late afternoon there was a collective groan when I offered people yet another piece of cake.