London Marathon

Got up at 5:15 AM to run the London Marathon course. I figure since I am here in London, I might as well experience the London Marathon course. It was below freezing as I ambled toward the Golders Green Tube station in North London. I forgot to bring any long tights or anything like that so I borrowed my father in laws chinese style knee warmers. They were long and brown and I had a nice gap between the top and my brooks running shorts making them look like some weird 1980's leg warmers. I was waiting with for the 5:35 AM subway to Bank station with a lot of other people but I looked out of place with my Chinese leg warmers in the below freezing morning. I managed to pick the wrong train that was heading to Charing Crossing instead of Bank station. Damn. So I had to get out at Camden Town and wait 15 minutes for the train to the DLR at Bank. Finally got there and missed the DLR by 15 seconds. So I had to sit there in my leg warmers waiting for the Docklands Light Rail. I boarded and 13 stops later and 90 minutes since I started I got to my destination, Greenwich, the start of the London Marathon. During the official marathon, thousands of people are swarming the tube, but I got it to myself. I had to ask a lot of people how to get to Grenwich park and I balked at the longish walk I had to the start. Nothing like a long walk to the beginning of a marathon. It got really cold as I walked through Greenwich park to the official start. I started solo a little after 7:00 AM at the corner of Greenwich Park and Charlton Road and took off at a pretty slow clip. I forgot how much harder it is to run with poor street signs and no idea where you are. I was constantly looking at my lousy directions and then finally pulled out the iPhone for support. The first few miles were pretty dull as I headed towards Woolwich. The route heads back to Greenwich and passes the Cutty Sark which I did not even see as I was focusing on the course. I passed a University and along along the Thames heading towards Tower Bridge. Greenwich of course is famous for giving its name to the Greenwich Meridian (0° longitude) and Greenwich Mean Time. I was wondering if my garmin would show 0 longitude and it acually hit 0.00007 as I passed through town.

I crossed this monument taking a few photos and headed towards the Docklands and Canary Wharf. I was at mile 14 or so when I realized running mainly on concrete was taking a lot out of me. I was in a decent amount of pain, but wanted to keep going. I hit what they call the Highway and ran through Whitechapel towards the Docklands and Canary Wharf. I got incredibly lost in the Docklands and ran a much longer route than I should have asking various people which way the London Marathon went and getting contradictory answers. Oh well. I did not pay for this and this was my sick idea to do this in these damn Chinese old man knee warmers. For once I did not mind being lost and just kept going. I finally escaped Canary Wharf and the dreaded docklands and got back to the East End near Whitechapel. I missed my turn but kept heading towards town. I was at mile 23 or so when I asked how to get the Mall, the end of the race. Little did I know that its pronunced Maaal here, not Mall, and nobody had a clue what I was asking for. I kept running down the Thames and past the Millenium Dome and finally hit Big Ben. I knew the end of this marathon was somewhere. I asked more people and was pointed in the proper direction. I had no spring left in my legs as I hobbled towards the Mall and Buckingham palace. Finally, I saw the end and ran under 8 minutes per mile for the last 500 feet or so. Sweet victory was mine. My time was 5:10, but I am pretty sure I ran a good ways longer than a normal marathon as I got pretty lost several times. I also added a few miles in at the beginning and end to make sure I was good and wrecked for a day or two afterwards.

While not an official finish, I think I will remember this more than if I had signed up and paid and did it straight. The next time I am in Paris, Tokyo, or New York and have a few hours, I might try this again. Its pretty fun, alot cheaper, and the memories are a slightly different than those that come from a traditional marathon. I have run enough of them to know what they feel like.


jmilliron said…
nrmrvrk said…
Great write-up Chris. I wish I could have done it with you. That's a great idea for hitting marathons when you're traveling though.
mthead said…
New York course goes through some interesting neighborhoods, places people just don't go unless the marathon is open (sad but true). Any such issues in London?