VLM race report

We hear from a very, very tired Paul Snell…for anyone who was using the online tracker to follow our runners and wondered if he was alright – he is, but as you can see, it was quite a day! Man-suit, fully zipped… now read on…

Hi everyone this is my race report for the London marathon, 21st April 2013.
In the week before I was a bit poorly, but I seemed to be fit before the race and I was really keen to go along and do my best. I had been given a place through my running club, Vegan Runners AC, and I wanted to represent the club and do my best. 
I stayed over in Greenwich over night and walked up the hill to the start area – what a lot of people! The weather was also perfect – cold and sunny. I was trying to stay calm and focused, it was all so exciting. 
I like to start slowly, so I ran the first 6 miles at my very easy pace and I could see from my mile splits that I was doing about 9 minute miles, right on target. The crowds of supporters were amazing, so many people, and a lot of the east London areas had made proper street party style events, with barbecues, music blaring out of pubs, live bands and dj’s, clouds of marijuana smoke, lots of people drinking beer in the sunshine. After the first hour of running I tried to stretch out my legs a little bit and pick up a few more seconds, but nothing happened – I was using more energy but not going any faster. So I decided to save my energy and see how I progressed. As the race went on and I got past halfway I started having problems controlling my body temperature. I was drinking but it seemed to be just sitting in my stomach, so I started pouring water over myself to cool down. Some nice firemen were offering a free “shower” so I took that and that seemed to help, I also used the showers on the course. It was getting very warm by now and as we ran through the docklands area I tried to find the shady side of the shady side of the road and just keep it steady. It seemed like we were so far from the finish and whereas before I was passing people, now I seemed to be drifting slowly backwards. When we started heading back west into town I just concentrated on keeping running, no matter how slowly and it was a big relief when I got to 20 miles – only another hour to go! Runners use different techniques to stay positive when it gets hard and I was thinking about all the people who have supported me and sent me messages, my family, how hard I had trained, how I was nearly there. Run for another five minutes, that’s half a mile, nearly there now. But just before mile 24 it was getting harder to stay upright – I was starting to weave across the road and losing co-ordination with my movements. People were starting to walk past me and I couldn’t really balance. I came to a stop and rested with my hands on my knees for a few minutes to stay upright. When I was ready I started running again, but I only got about ten metres before I had to sit down on the kerb at the edge of the course. I really couldn’t run anymore. I was so upset with myself, and I just wanted to run that last bit for my club and my supporters, but I was absolutely toasted! People were telling me “you are nearly there, just a bit further, you can do it”. But sometimes you just can’t run anymore, even if you want to.
The St John’s Ambulance guys came over and carried me off the track, I couldn’t get up on my own or even tell them my name for a few minutes. They gave me water and sat with me for about twenty minutes or half an hour. They said if I wanted to I could try and walk. I felt a little bit better and I walked with them for about a hundred meters before rejoining the course. I walked a little but I really wanted to run, so I started a very slow shuffle, then something a little bit like running. I was so close to the finish – 24 miles, 25, then 800m to go, 26 miles, 200m, 100m, done. I managed to run the whole of the last section after my time out, even if I was a bit unsteady and very slow. From the whole marathon I think I must have walked about 200m – I ran the rest somehow. What a day!
Running the London Marathon was an amazing experience – the crowds of supporters cheering everyone on and handing out food (thanks for that half a banana and the grapes and for a lot of high fives), running over Tower bridge and past parliament. The organisation was brilliant, free travel on the tube for runners. 
The London marathon route starts in Greenwich, then we run to tower bridge, back out to do a big loop around the island (Docklands/ Canary Wharf) then to Parliament and Buckingham palace. It is a very long way!
Paul Snell
Vegan Runners UK