Well…..I did it.
I accomplished what I set out to do.
I did not have a time goal. I did not look at my watch. I did not worry about “making up time”, but what I did do, was exactly what I intended to do; Enjoy it.
Running the London Marathon was the most incredible running experience of my life.
I absolutely loved it.
In fact, it is hard to believe just how much I enjoyed running a marathon. Honestly, I am not sure if I will ever enjoy a marathon that much again. Marathons HURT, but even at mile 24, at the point when my last 2 marathons flickered through my mind (what a contrast!), I was still loving it. I literally enjoyed the entire thing, and finished in 2:41:10 (official time).
Okay, so lets go back to the start………
I will do a second post when I am back in the US next week on the days leading up to it; the experience in the host hotel, surrounded by running legends and world record holders, but to prevent this post from being a book, I will just cover the race itself today starting with my warm up.
The warm up
After deciding we would eat the $1 a minute, I called Steve (at 3am!) for my final pre race pep talk, and headed out to get my 2 mile warmup in. Within a few minutes, Paula Radcliffe appeared behind me, when we turned a corner, she came level with me, and then was running alongside me. I kept waiting for her to pull ahead, but she didnt…..almost awkwardly as we were literally running together…..but not. Eventually, after about a minute, I bit the bullet and asked her about Alex (both of us were formally coached by him). We then talked for the rest of our warm-ups before splitting off to go in different directions. I could not believe the amount of people that would come up and run alongside her for a few seconds to take photos, honestly, I don’t know how she does it! She asked me about what I was hoping for, and wished me luck when we parted. What a way to start the day!
I dropped off my bag, deciding to keep a long-sleeve on that my friend Tom had graciously given me (clothes thrown off on the course are donated to charity) and we crammed towards the start line..
This was a little more congested than I am used to. There were men pushing me, and we were packed in very tight. Standing just behind the start line, the announcers did a final shoutout to Paula; listing all her accomplishments, and everyone cheered so loud. It was so special, especially knowing that I had just warmed up with my idol!
Before I knew it, we were off, and I was terrified I was going to trip as people pushed and zipped around one another. I reminded myself to stay comfortable. This is critical to the rest of the race.
Steve and I had agreed that I would look at my watch 3 times during the race; miles 1, 3, and 10k. Confession. Steve does not even know this….sorry sweetie ;)…..I did look at my pace per mile at some point….I think around 16 miles, I just couldn’t help myself.
I went through the mile at 6:04 on my garmin (6:09 on the clock, which displayed the elite men start). I vowed that I would settle into my pace from now. At mile 2, the course started to make a significant descent. If you were not aware of this, it would be SO easy to get carried away here, and easily take off 20 seconds….but pay for it later. Thankfully I had been warned about this, so kept my foot on the brake the entire time. I went through the 3 mile in 18:0?, another warning to be very careful, and I slowed down. People were flying past me in every direction, but I knew my plan, and I was determined to stick to it.
The first 6 miles absolutely flew by. I felt amazing; so relaxed, barely breathing, and just so comfortable. It was a great feeling, especially as in Chicago Marathon, I remember going past the 6 mile thinking “oh my god I still have 20 miles to go….I can’t do this”.
I went through the 10k in 38:3?, which was on the border of the time Steve and I discussed that I needed to back way off. I tried to settle into a rhythm, and actually did perfectly.
This was amazing. There were so many people out on the streets, it was deafening at times, and I was smiling the whole way. Taking in the sights, thinking about how I was doing what I had watched on the TV so many times, and listening out for people cheering my name so I could do what I said I would. I actually didn’t hear as many people as I thought I would, but overall, I probably had 30+ people who told me they yelled for me, and I only heard about 8. Thats how loud it was!!
Going past some of my best friends was definitely one of my favorite parts. They were in two groups just before halfway, and just LOVED it, it really brought it to reality that I was running the London Marathon. I could see the pride on their faces, and it was just so special. Anna and Helen confessed that they burst into tears when they saw me, which is pretty adorable 🙂
How do I describe running across Tower Bridge in the London Marathon? I dont think I can. I will never forget those few minutes. It was the best running experience I have ever had. Deafeningly loud, running across one of the most iconic scenes in the world, feeling amazing. It was indescribable.
As I passed the halfway mark, I felt great. I forced myself not to look at the clock; not wanting to be lulled into the “making up time” mindset. We began to wind through the streets of London, and there were so many people around every corner. This was the toughest part for my ego, I wanted to start kicking it down, but I kept thinking back to my conversation with Tom the day before; I just wanted to get to the 20 mile mark feeling GOOD. I wanted to roll those last 6 miles, and honestly, I wanted to play it safe. I needed a good marathon experience, and I did not want to take the risk.
I held back, and I am very glad I did. Around 15 miles I went through my first major bad patch. It did not last long, maybe 1-2 minutes, but I suddenly felt the sensation of those final few miles, like you have sandbags strapped to your legs as they start to go numb. I backed off the pace, and reminded myself it was a patch. I started to feel good again, and enjoyed seeing my family.
At mile 19, I smiled at my final spectator…..I can’t remember who it was (Mum and Jenny, or Dad and Jess maybe?), but I remember thinking that I did it; I smiled my way through the first 19 miles, and accomplished that goal. Now it was almost time to make that final 10k count, and I was ready.
Well here we were. I made it to the part I wanted feeling good. Finally feeling as though I could run hard, and I could not have felt more different to the last two marathons. In both Philly and Chicago, it was more a question of was I even going to finish? This was “alright, lets go”. I kept Steve’s voice in my head, reminding me to not make any sudden movements, but started to crank down the pace, but by feel, not by pace.
This, is my wheelhouse.
Even while I pushed forward, and kept chasing people down, I made sure I took in the sights; running down Embankment (the exact location I had watched Paula run by me, all those years ago), the London Eye, Big Ben, and of course, Buckingham Palace.
I was on a roll.
I honestly dont think anyone passed me from 21 miles on, and I think I probably passed 50 people in those last 6 miles, not one person passed me (other than the final straightaway- more proof I need to “get my speed back!”). My final 7 miles were: 5:55, 5:49, 5:58 (took my final gel), 5:56, 5:51, 5:47, 5:59, 6:08. I am not going to lie, that last 6:08 does bother me a little bit, but had a little warning sign of pushing too far (in both my previous marathons, my last .2 were around 9 minute pace) and I was scared.
I have talked about this with Steve and my parents, and they are working on convincing me that I made the right choice here. Yes, I could have pushed harder. Yes, I could have run faster, but was it worth the risk? Now I know I have more left, and will go into the next race with that confidence that I do not always blow up. Like Steve said, if I had gone, and I had blown up…..would I have ever wanted to do a marathon again? Probably not.
I accomplished my biggest goal. I turned that corner with a smile on my face, as I ran down the mall, I tried my hardest to take it in, and I even raised my arms up as I crossed the line, even though initially I was a little bit disappointed with the time. However, I finished in a completely different state to previous ones. This was what the marathon was meant to feel like; incredibly tired, but not to the point of risking serious damage to my health.
As I hobbled down the finishing area was very impressed with how quickly I was given my bag. Within 3 minutes of finishing, I had my finishers bag, and my belongings were brought over to me by one of the volunteers. This meant I could call Steve and talk to him for a few minutes. He was happy, and I did what he wanted.
After the race
I walked back towards the meet and greet. My dad stood at the earliest point of contact with spectators, gleaming at me. We hugged, and I soon saw my sister running towards me, such a proud smile on her face. Even though I warned her not to hug me, she came flying at me, and that was one of the highlights of the day (my sister is usual not too happy about how “huggy” I am!).
We started to walk, and I actual felt better as I walked, so I suggested we walked back to the hotel, but after about a mile, my energy began to flag, and I asked Jess how far we had to go…..she responded 1.8 miles, which seemed like forever away. We jumped on the tube, and braced the crowds.
I had time to shower at the hotel quickly before my mum and auntie knocked on my door, which was nice. I gave them both a big hug, and I loved seeing their proud faces.
Some of my best friends also came to the hotel to greet me, and it was amazing to see them down there.
We went for lunch, and I had my burger and “triple fried” chips. If you think elites don’t treat themselves, hopefully this picture of what I ate proves once and for all that we do!! I devoured this, it was delicious, especially as I did not have the stomach rot that had prevented me from enjoying eating anything in the past.
Make sure you read my article about why I believe it is good to indulge and gain weight, and I think this is especially important after a marathon.
We got the train home, and at 5pm I finally was able to receive the overwhelming supportive messages from my friends and family as I had internet for the first time since 7am.
Thank you to each and every one of you who has texted, called, commented, or even liked my result. I am absolutely blown away by the amount of people who were genuinely so happy for me, and I cannot believe you all care about me so much. It truly means the world, and I haven’t even had time to reply to everyone yet!
I will recap next week about what went right and what went wrong, but for now, I want to make the most of my time with my friends and family at home.
So now chip times have been officially released, do you mind if I just brag for a second please? 🙂
I am excited to say I am a 2:41:10 marathoner (would be Olympic Qualifier if I was American), finished in 7th place at the London Marathon (25th woman across the line, 10th British, 120th British Runner of All-Time ).
Most importantly, I can finally say I enjoy the marathon. I always knew I would end up there, but to have done it, it still doesn’t seem real.
All those struggles, all those tears I cried, all those moments I gritted through even when I considered giving it all up, became worth it yesterday. THIS is what running is all about. Not that moment you cross the finish line, not the glory that is follows running fast, but the moment when you truly enjoy running for YOU. Not for anyone else. The motion of it, the joy of it, and the strength you get from it. THAT is why I run, and that is the reminder I needed.
I may not have given my all yesterday, but there is something very rewarding knowing that I have a lot more in there, waiting to be unleashed, and I had a race I truly enjoyed. The race that helped me find my love of running again. I know I will run faster in the future, but I am not sure I will ever enjoy a race as much again, but it will forever be in my mind as the most special day.
Thank you for reading this MARATHON post! Have a wonderful week! I will be back to normal next week 🙂
Oh, and in case you were wondering, I am taking 7-14 days completely off, yes, no exercise at all. Here is why I think that is so important. I am also binging on whatever the heck I want. Even elites have times to splurge, and if that means eating cupcakes, cheesecake, cookies, and endless amounts of chocolate for a week, well, I earned it!
Oh and one more thing….I finally have my finish line photo 🙂
If you want to read about the elite experience at London marathon or the London marathon reflection, I wrote about those too 🙂[Tweet “Tina Muir recaps her 2:41 PR & 7th place in the @LondonMarathon! #fuelyourfuture”]
Have you ever run a marathon where your focus was just to enjoy it? What was your best running experience?
Tina, I literally have no words to describe how inspiring you are. Your smiles speak volumes about the whole experience. You did the work. You dealt with frustration. And you came out on top! Ok. So I guess I do have words 🙂
Way to rock the race friend!
I just love you and this so, so much!!!!! I hope you know how truly amazing you are – as an athlete and as a person. You are such a huge inspiration to me, not just because of your athletic ability (which is beyond!) but because you’re such a genuine, thoughtful and real human being. I couldn’t be happier for you! I can only imagine what you will accomplish in the coming years and I hope you continue to share it with all of us. What a gift!!!! xoxoxo
OH HOW I LOVE THIS POST and living vicariously. Oddly enough my parents were there watching!!
Wow, this is amazing! I am SO proud of you! You worked so hard and definitely earned this PR and overall amazing race! Enjoy your break and time to do whatever you want!!!
Oh my gosh you are such an inspiration. You crushed it! Congratulations!! You really put in the work and reaped the benefits for it! Enjoy your final days at home!
Tina!!! I’m so happy for you! I love that you enjoyed this race so much and had a smile on your face! You killed it too!! I felt like I was watching you race as I read this post:) Enjoy resting, time with family, and eating delicious food! 😀
Congratulations Tina! 7th place at the London Marathon?!@! That is amazing, and for once a runner I have followed met her goal! Hooray! You rock!
So, so many congratulations. We all knew that this was your race, in so many ways. The changes in your form, your attitude, everything are just so telling–relaxed and comfortable and where you need to be. I don’t think you have felt that way in a race in a very long time! And to run with Paula before… well, there just isn’t much better, eh? Enjoy the rest of your time with your family, your cake (I remember that on your schedule!) and then come on back to the US when you are ready!
So awesome Tina!!! Thank you for sharing your inspiring experience!! I did enjoy a marathon thoroughly from start to finish once – Philadelphia in 2010! I’ve been chasing that feeling ever since!
omg Tina, this make me want to cry! I am SO HAPPY FOR YOU!!
I love that you & Steve made a plan ahead of time to check your splits only at certain points, sounds like that may have been one of the smartest decisions leading up to the race.
Those stats are amazing – 120th British woman of all time!?! Wow. I also love love love the picture of you crossing the finish! It’s the definition of joy 🙂
You look so happy!! I loved reading this and I am so so glad that you achieved your goals. I’ve been thinking of you often you are quite the inspiration. You totally rock!
OMG, I was sitting on the edge of my seat reading this and have goosebumps. SO incredibly excited for you! You worked so freaking hard for this and you did it!! You set out what you wanted to accomplish and I bet that is the most amazing feeling ever. You are such an inspiration both as an athlete and a human being. Enjoy your time off!!!
This made me almost cry happy tears. I am SO thrilled for you!!! You have relentlessly worked hard, been through some tough times, toughed those out, stayed patient and DID IT!! So so proud and happy for you!!!!
You are amazing! I am so pleased you had such a good marathon and a fantastic experience. I am beyond jealous of your warm-up with Paula and even running the race with her. I’ve got a place for next year’s London marathon as I deferred this year so I CANNOT wait to do it.
I watched the coverage on the TV and loved it. I even got a bit emotional when Paula crossed the line. What a legend!
Woohoo, Tina!! This is such an awesome race recap- I loved that you enjoyed the entire thing and crushed it!! So awesome. Hope you’re still riding that high!!
OMG how on earth can you run that fast and smile those huge grins!?!?! I love how you barely looked at your watch, and still crossed the line in that time. You. Are. AMAZING, Tina!!! I love love love this. So happy for you! Woohooo!!!
way to go Tina! fantastic result, and great recap!
Congrats, Tina!! So thrilled for you, how well you executed your race plan, and your new PR! So glad you got to enjoy every second of your home marathon, all those smiles, running with Paula (!!), what a special, perfect day! Excited you finally love the marathon (I knew you’d get there!) and excited for the future! Enjoy ALL the cupcakes and cookies you want 🙂
Congrats Tina! You’re such a huge inspiration to us all. You ran an amazing time, enjoyed yourself, and you’re truly a great role model for all runners. I’m so happy you’re proud of yourself, you should be!
Congratulations!!! You are truly an inspiration to me and I love reading your posts and getting advice from you to put towards my training. Great job Tina.
Tina, I am so happy for you and so inspired for you! You worked so hard for this and earned an amazing race – and look that that impressive fast finish you had! Also, it is so exciting that you got to run with Paula Radcliffe for a bit. Enjoy the rest of your time in England and your well-earned rest 🙂
Way to go Tina!! This is absolutely amazing. Your time is so impressive, but what is even more great is you enjoyed every mile. So happy for you to have a great hometown race 🙂
Congratulations! Sending you a virtual hug.So proud of you!
This is all so amazing, Tina! Congratulations! I love your enthusiasm and the smile on your face in your pictures. Enjoy this time, you have so much to be so proud of. You worked hard physically and mentally and it worked.
It’s funny how the marathon you enjoyed the most is one where you also smashed it! 🙂 There’s something in that. So cool that you warmed up with Paula too!
Thank you for letting us in on this, I’ve loved following your journey and couldn’t think of a better person to be rewarded for their hard work. A well executed strategy, I could definitely tell a difference in your running photos too so it’s probably all that form work coming through for sure. There’s so much to take away from all of this.
Oh and that burger…please tell me where to get that because we are in the UK for the next week (although Liverpool, Scotland, Ireland), and I do NOT want to leave without having that burger!
What I love is that your intent of just enjoying equaled a killer PR and placement! So, so happy for you that you had a dream day. You’ve worked SO hard for this and deserve all the great things that came your way. Very proud of you!
Great blog post, really enjoyed reading it. Congratulations on a great race and a superb time. Brilliant that you enjoyed it so much and all the way to the end! Enjoy your 2 weeks off 🙂
You are amazing!!! The best part of this is that you did what you set out to do – smile and enjoy the race!! And, you still ran an incredibly fast time!!! Glad you are taking advantage of your time with friends and family at home – enjoy!!!
I love your recap, Tina. You are so amazing and have overcome a lot with the form and injury issues to get this marathon time. Heck, I wish I could run under 6 min/mile for ONE MILE! That’s so awesome you were passing people at the end in those ugly last 10K miles too. I hope you have a good recovery and break and also enjoy spending time with friends and family!
Yay Tina! You did AMAZING! So happy the stars aligned for us last Sunday and we were both able to run the race we trained so hard for. I knew you could do this. Also, I’ve been following you for a while now, and you can tell that you went into this race with a totally different mind set. Good for you girl!
CONGRATS, Tina!!! This is so amazing, and YOU are so amazing! I’m so happy that you enjoyed the race. I’m going to think about your whole journey when I start marathon training and remind myself to just enjoy it!
I’ve never had a good marathon so reading this gives me so much hope that it’s possible! What you’ve done is mind boggling, you are simply amazing. I can’t get the image of you with the smile on your face out of my mind. I’m so happy for you– I can’t stop smiling. A huge congratulations. xoxoxo
Yay Tina!!!!! I was so so happy to see your awesome time and now reading this, and hearing what an incredible and HAPPY experience you had makes me even happier for you!!!! You did an amazing job. Big congrats and big hugs! 🙂
i’m ecstatic! so happy for you friend. hard work and rest paid off! way to PR!
What an amazing recap and triumphant marathon. It’s so easy to see how happy and thrilled you were with the whole experience. I’m so glad this was the marathon experience for you. Mine was similar. I smiled the whole way and burst into tears as soon as I saw my time. I told Mike as soon as I saw him that I finally understood why people love the marathon distance. Hope you are fully enjoying your recovery week and can’t wait to hear more about it in the coming weeks. So proud of you! xo
So so so HAPPY for you! Go enjoy yourself and EAT everything you body wants…HA! I think all of your pictures sum up this race…I love that you are smiling in ALL of them! XOXO
Congratulations, Tina! So happy for you!
Oh lovely! Congratulations! I’m so, SO happy for you! That’s seriously an amazing time, and what’s even better is that you managed to pull it without stressing and putting a crazy amount of pressure on yourself. I love that you enjoyed the race. And I love that you were able to do it at home 🙂
Tina, this is amazing. A wonderful recap and a fantastic race. You look SO happy in all of your pictures. Congratulations, gal!
Congrats, Tina! You are such an inspiration. I loved every word of this post. 🙂
I have tears in my eyes. So beautiful, so moving… Such an INCREDIBLE RACE!!! Those split times the last 10K – you killed it!!! Oh my gosh – I am so inspired…so happy for you. Hard work, determination, faith… it all pays off!
Enjoy your time off!! Enjoy your family and your beautiful city. I stayed up to watch the marathon and was looking for you!
I love your spirit and your sweet, loving personality.
You are an inspiration to do many. I love the detail of this post. I love that not only did you achieve your set goal but you did it surrounded by do many of your dearest friends and family members. I’d be lying if I said reading about tour incredible achievement didn’t leave me with tears in my eyes. I’m so ridiculously proud of you, Tina. Continue shining because your a superstar!!
Tina I’m so happy for you! I love the smile that is on your face in every photo! It makes my soul happy to see you so happy! You are amazing, I’m so lucky to have gotten to know you through your blog over the past year. I know it hasn’t been the easiest road to get here but you pushed through and I think your determination and grace with even the bad situations makes these moments even more meaningful! Keep up all the hard work lady and enjoy your successes. You’re keeping me inspired over here…keep on smiling, much love my friend! 🙂
What was up with your stomach post race before, tina?
And IM SO FREAKING PROUD OF YOU!!
Congratulations!!! I couldn’t wait to look up your results and when I saw your faster chunks of time in the 2nd half, I knew you must have had a great race. So happy for you!!!
So so so incredibly happy for you, Tina!!! You are an absolute rockstar and such a huge inspiration to me (and many others!). Reading this I just had the biggest smile on my face and it makes me so anxious to run a marathon. Someday!
I can’t even explain how amazing the feeling is to completely enjoy a race like that. I have had a race, but I have had many runs where I feel such a love for running. Hopefully there will be so many more of those 🙂
GREAT JOB! Again, you are amazing!
You are AMAZING! This is one of my favorite race recaps I’ve read – I’m just SO happy for you! And wow, lady, I can’t believe you did it all by feel. You are one of my running heroes!!! xoxox Congratulations!!
Oh Tina. I love this so much. Congrats!! You’ve worked so hard for this and there is so much heart that comes through in this recap. I hope that you are enjoying your downtime and recovering well. Congrats again!!
So happy and proud of you. It did take me a couple days to read this, but you know I’ve been following and waiting anxiously for your recap. You are an inspiration and someday I wouldn’t be surprised to hear another little girl say that her goal is to be like Tina Muir. Congratulations!
What a beautiful recap. Those races where you just feel so good and happy are amazing. You are such an inspiration! Congrats on having an amazing race and getting your goal!
Tina I’m so glad I finally made it over here to read this recap! This was awesome! You are so inspiring – you’ve worked so hard for this. Best of all, I love that you said you’ve found your love of running again. Congrats!!
YOU ARE INCREDIBLE! I loved reading this recap and look forward to reading more about your experience. Congrats on an amazing race!
Tina!!! This is so amazing!! I am so happy for you. You prove that hard work, sticking to a plan and HAVING FUN can pay off. Congratulations!
Oh friend, you are amazing. Just reading this gives me chills. I’m sooooo happy for you!!!!!
Congrats Tina!!! I am so so so happy for you and was thrilled to hear what a great experience this was for you! I hope you are still on cloud 9 and enjoying your incredible accomplishment! xoxo
Wow this is amazing! 7th place?? Congrats!! It feels so good to have a race come together like this where you don’t feel crappy by the end. I had an awful first marathon experience and then in my second one I felt good the whole way and finished with a smile on my face (though obviously much slower lol!). You are so inspiring and motivate me to work hard, especially as I begin to train for the Chicago Marathon (which we need to talk about because I’m nervous!). I’ll have to shoot you an email 🙂 Congrats again and enjoy the recovery period!