I did it! Virgin London Marathon 2013

Apr 23, 13 I did it! Virgin London Marathon 2013

It’s still all rather surreal to be honest. I’ve got the aches and stiffness, I’ve got the blisters and I’ve got the shiny medal and finishers T-shirt but part of me still thinks it was all a dream.

Getting to the start felt like it required military precision planning, but in reality was much easier than expected. I even bumped into a fellow Martin House Children’s Hospice runner at Earls Court tube.


The start at Blackheath was an amazing experience, the sheer volume of runners piling up the high street each time a new train arrived, and meeting up with my running club buddy Cathy.

I’m in awe of the whole organisation behind the marathon, everything just seemed to flow.

It took around 20 minutes from the start of the race to me actually getting in sight of the start line, and after a couple of minutes Cathy proved too fast for me to keep up with my fast walk and I told her to go ahead and have a great race.

26.2 miles to go, I’m on my own and the only thing to do is go for it.

The sky was so blue and it was already starting to get warm, quite a shock for someone who’s only trained in ice, snow, blizzards, rain and cold grey days, but what a beautiful day for a long walk!

The crowds were unbelievable, and despite Alexandra Hemingway’s warning about falling over when high fiving the children on route I couldn’t resist! The only downside to the high fiving was that by mile ten I’d covered an extra mile by taking the wider route. It was so worth it. Huge thanks to everyone who came out to support us on Sunday, be it with shouted encouragement, jelly babies, drinks or high fives, and especially those who stayed out for those runners like me at the back of the pack. I know many runners simply couldn’t have held out without that support and encouragement.

Up to mile ten everything was going great, I was well ahead of the sensible target pace I’d set myself and the miles were dropping off nicely, by mile ten my feet were sore and feeling a touch raw. In hindsight this was the start of the blisters.

Mile six and Cutty Sark was the Martin House cheering point and a real lift. Just before thirteen you get to see Tower Bridge, what an amazing site. There were so many things on route that lifted my spirits, from drummers under an overpass playing the most amazing beats, to people sat on their sofa at the side of the road, others holding a barbecue, people hanging out of their balconies dressed in dinner suits shouting support, to the thrilled faces of little children high fiving you and telling you go for it!

The battery on the Garmin died at mile 20 (the replacement battery I’d ordered arrived while we were in London) and I felt lost without it, but my running app told me I was still doing okay. I’d been keeping an eye on my pace to make sure I didn’t overdo it, but also to keep me going when I started to slow down without realising it.

I thought I started to struggle at mile 22, but the stats show I was doing better than I thought. The phone went dead at mile 24 and huge apologies to the friends and family I scared with that, they’d been following the run live all day. The embankment felt like it would never end and Westminster was more of the same, thank god for the crowds and their amazing support.

Birdcage Walk and I can see the finish, I’d have bawled my eyes out if I had the energy left, and I somehow managed to run the last 100 yards or so to cross that finish line.

What an amazing experience!

The official photos are interesting, when I saw a photographer I tried my best to look upbeat, but there’s a couple of candid ones where I didn’t see them and you can see the pain and tiredness.

The leg and knees were well taped up and held up amazingly well. The feet didn’t fare so well, and for someone who never gets blisters running, I had eight blisters on my left foot (a couple of telly deep ones), and several on my right foot, and have discovered an extra one on my back this morning!

Aside from feeling sick as a dog I’m doing good today, I’m stiff in places I didn’t expect, but have two sessions of sports massage booked in this week so I’ll be fine.

And I have a shiny medal that shows me that this as real. I did it. Four times round the village, I told you I would!

And the best part is I raised over £1,100 for Martin House!







  1. Well done Helen. Magnificent achievement.

  2. Angelika Davey
    Twitter: german_tutor

    Absolutely well done! I was extremely proud when I walked a marathon, but running it is something else. I couldn’t do it.
    Question is, will you do it again?

    • Helen /

      I couldn’t run it because of the injury I picked up in training although did manage to overtake a lot of runners by being consistent and focussed on the fast walk and sticking to the pace.

      As I crossed the finish I swore never again, but I will be entering on Monday when the ballot opens for next year.

      I’m not sure if I could do a marathon outside of London, it was definitely the support along the whole route that kept me focussed. We’ll see if once I get back out running I’m tempted by another one.

  3. Loving the pink tape, looks very professional! Well done Helen, great effort. Hope your feet feel better soon!

    • Helen /

      I found some really cool Zebra print tape at the Expo on Saturday but have several rolls of the pink tape already.

      It makes a huge difference I have to say!

  4. Anne Fieldhouse /

    Well done!! See – I said you would do it! Look forward to seeing you out training for next years Marathon!

  5. Well done Helen! A fantastic achievement. I know I couldn’t do it so I’m full of admiration for you.

  6. Andrew (@ataccounting) /

    Well done Helen. Followed your training and stressed with you over injuries etc.

    So glad you made it… even if I was one of those following you who had a heart attack when Runkeeper suddenly showed you in Thailand. Slightly worried that someone was kidnapping runners and transporting them overseas to generate electricity by making you run in a hamster ball. In retrospect I probably shouldn’t eat cheese just before bed time.

    Now I look forward to following you for the next one. You know you will!

    • Helen /

      Sorry for the Runkeeper scare! Looking forward to the next one 🙂

  7. Hazel /

    Well done Helen, amazing achievement, very proud to say I know you.

  8. Congratulations on doing something I have always wanted to do but may never get round to doing. What does the pink tape actually do by the way?

    • Helen /

      Thanks John, never thought I’d get to do it to be honest, but it’s something I would definitely say go for if you can.

      The pink tape is Kinesiology tape and supports injuries, I don’t claim to understand how it works, but it just does. I had both knees taped up, rather than knee supports, the tape is more flexible and seems to offer a more comfortable support than the traditional neoprene ones I used to use. The tape on my right leg starts on my ankle, goes under my foot, over the side of the other ankle and then up the peroneal, there’s also a piece that goes horizontally around my heel from one side of the ankle to almost my toes on the other side. Despite the fairly consistent pace of the fast walk the worst I felt from the injury was an achy ankle at around 23 miles and no pain at all from my knees.

      I’m also told that if you can you should keep the tape on after the exercise as it helps in recovery, although I have a nasty habit of peeling mine off in the shower!

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