Today is the last article in our London Marathon Training series. The run is over, the finish line crossed and almost a year of intensive training that has had both ecstatic highs and real lows for our sponsored runner Jim, was concluded in one momentous day, making it all worthwhile.
So, for one last time, let’s hear from the man himself, the running powerhouse that is Jim Hicks, to see what he has to say about the lead up, the big day, and the aftermath of the biggest race of his life. Thanks Jim for flying the flag for Caloo – we even saw you in your bright pink team outfit with our logo emblazoned across it as you ran over Tower Bridge.
“Well Andrew, it’s all a bit of a blur to tell you the truth, but weirdly, at the same time, I will never forget the experience of being part of such an amazing event as the London Marathon.
We travelled down to pick up my running number at the London Excel Arena on Friday. The place was mobbed, but I still managed to get my official London Marathon hoodie. Then I spent the rest of the day relaxing in the hotel, mentally preparing myself.
On Saturday I tried to take it easy but couldn’t resist a trip to the Olympic Park for a look around. Then it was straight into my pre-run routine – dinner at Wagamama, breakfast of porridge, juice and a banana, then over to Greenwich Park for the start.
The start of the London Marathon is crazy, but incredibly well organised. They corral you into your allotted pen (mine was Pen 9, Red) where you wait for the off. But even when we got underway, there were so many people that it took 20 minutes of shuffling just to cross the starting line.
The first five miles were fine, no problem at all. The support was unbelievable, with spectators three, four and five deep all the way, shouting encouragement, offering drinks and sweets – it was emotional (as Vinny Jones might say).
At mile eight it was lovely to see my superstar supporters – my wife Louise, and from our run club Sue Deaves and Elizabeth van Duyvenbode, the ‘three musketeers’, all wearing their Jim Hicks hoodies for the first time.
At mile 14 we crossed Tower Bridge and could see all the pro runners on mile 21 of their run, which was both inspirational and a reminder of just how far I still had to go. At mile 15 I saw the in-laws and I was still going strongish. But over miles 16 to 19 I well and truly hit a wall. It shocked me, because I’d run further in training, but now my legs felt like lead and I came to a point where I was close to quitting. It took me an hour and a half just to do those three terrible miles, and I can safely say they were the hardest I’ve ever done.
Miles 19 to 20 I had a word with myself, a mental monologue, and something clicked, I started running again, believing I could do it. Then over the last ten miles I powered on through, overtaking around 900 people (there’s an app you can download that tells you where you are in the pack). I wasn’t exactly ‘Road Runner’ but I was going well.
The last three miles were amazing, the views, the atmosphere, the pain in my legs. It was easily the hardest, most memorable, most incredible 26 miles of my life, and I’ve already entered for next year.
I started this marathon journey to prove something to myself and in doing so to hopefully inspire others to challenge their limitations. I started out an average bloke, a little rounder around the middle than I probably should have been, and certainly not fit in any traditional sense of the word. But I was determined, and in the process we raised £2,500 for charity, discovered the energy boost that jelly beans can give, confirmed that cortisone injections are completely useless at stopping foot pain in a marathon, that fights with home appliances can land you in serious pain, and that the support of good friends and running partners can spur you on, but that if you are going to run alone you should spend a significant amount of your preparation time training alone.
Essentially, if I can do it from where I started out, a complete novice at long-distance running, then anyone can.
Thank you to everyone who spurred me on, to those who ran with me in training every week, to those who sponsored me, and most of all to my wife Louise for entering me in the first place. Far from this being the end, I’m determined to keep going. As I said I’ve applied for next year’s London Marathon, and I’ve several charity runs and half-marathons booked in already, including the Rock ’n’ Roll Run in Liverpool in a few weeks’ time. Get up, get out and get started with your running. There’s no time like the present.”